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Our tasks for the future:
Building a Tool Kit of Trust, integrity

Posted by on Jan 18, 2017 in Blog, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments



Trust in sources, information, journalists. Trust in audiences. Trust in education.

Ways to help student journalists and their audience fight fake news and bad journalism begin in middle and high school, and especially in journalism programs.

Helping journalism students and their audiences fight fake news and sloppy reporting should include understanding what type of journalism is involved. Bill Kovach and Tom Riosenstiel identified the four types in the book Blur.

Each type provides its own journalistic function and each can play roles in fake news:
• Journalism of Verification: “a traditional model that puts the highest value on accuracy and context.”
• Journalism of Assertion: “a newer model that puts the highest value on immediacy and volume and in so doing tends to become a passive conduit of information.”
• Journalism of Affirmation: “a new political media that builds loyalty less on accuracy, completeness, or verification than on affirming the beliefs of its audiences, and so tends to cherry-pick information that serves that purpose.”
• Interest-Group Journalism: “targeted Web sites or pieces of work, often investigative, that are usually funded by special interests rather than media institutions and designed to look like news.”

In the third deditiion of their book Elements of Journalism, Kovach and Rosestiel changed the last category to Journalism of Aggregation.

Studying the four types can help scholastic journalism prepare for a Tool Kit of Trust, preferably without censorship and prior review.

Our Toolkit of Trust would provide materials and journalism resources in at least these six areas:
• Fighting bad journalism
• Uncovering and educating about, then limiting the spread of fake news
• Preventing charges of fake journalism aimed at our student media
• Limiting impact of censored student media
• Uncovering sponsored news
• Building trust in journalistic values through gatekeeping that stresses journalistic responsibility

We feel these areas can be the focus for the war agains fake news and bad journalism.

Because of new-found attention directed toward critical news thinking and news literacy, including proposed California legislation, we hope to, by next fall, share educational materials that:
• Focus on answering the “why” news question to make the “what” meaningful.
• Help your communities understand the need for communications/sense making responsibilities as they question authorities.
• Once journalists have questioned authorities, question them about the quality, motive and detail of their information. Remain skeptical until all questions are answered.
• Double down and stress what speech is protected and why and its importance to the well-being of a democracy.
• Show diversity in all its meaning as a guiding light for scholastic journalism. Let all people and ideas be represented.
• Remember objectivity as a process remains the core of scholastic journalism. It’s a process rooted in truth, credibility and coherence as essential, even as reporters are skeptical and challenging of sources.
• Strive to focus on solutions (journalism) to the issues and problems coverage raises.
• Protect and empower the whole process of fighting fake and misleading news by supporting and becoming involved in states’ New Voices legislation.
• Stress journalists’ social responsibility in a factionalized media/political environment.
• Fight the spread and use of fake news in all its forms and assist student journalists and their communities understand, respond to and counter it.

If you or your students have other areas you feel would help your program and/or scholastic journalism, please use the comment form and let us know.

In a recent Student Press Law Center Ball of Rights promotion, the words “censorship is deplorable” appear. We would add to that “prior review is insidiously deplorable.” Both lead to misinformation and distortion. Both limit journalistic integrity.

Both are at the core of fake news we need to change.

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