Circulation auditing company ABC is certifying a scheme that ensures publications adhere to high journalistic standards.
JTI development manager Chloe Fiodiere said the initiative is in response to “an urgent need to find structural solutions to restore trust [in news media] and create favourable conditions for it to recover”.
She added: “Journalism is undergoing direct competition from all sorts of content that proliferates in the digital space… resulting in declining audiences, mistrust of the media, and falling revenues.” The JTI aims to “provide a transparent mechanism and provide tangible rewards for ethical and professional journalism” by assessing compliance with industry standards.
Fiodiere described how the journalistic standards the JTI monitors were set: “RSF gathered 130 experts and organisations – including journalists, institutions, regulatory bodies, publishers, and new technology players – over the course of a year and a half. This process was carried out under the aegis of the European Committee for Standardisation. The JTI integrates guarantees on the basic rules of journalism: on editorial independence, journalistic ethics and methodology.”
The process has three stages: self-assessment, public disclosure – where transparency reports are published – and certification.
Media outlets can create free accounts to answer the 130 questions that make up the criteria for certification.
Based on international standards, the questions include information on ownership transparency, distribution channels, sources of revenue, data collection, editorial guidelines, accuracy and correction policies, responsibility for content provided by the public, internal and external accountability, and staff training.
Upon completion, an outlet can see how far it conforms to the international standard and opt for an external audit to verify that “good practices not only exist on paper but are also implemented in the newsroom”. Outlets that comply with JTI standards then receive certification.
Certification is valid for two years and ABC will act as an independent auditor for platforms looking to certify.
Simon Redlich, ABC’s CEO, described his company as having “for many years provided auditing data to the standards that we set for circulation data, not just in print, but in any of the ways publishers get their content to their consumers”.
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