“Show your work!” – Trust must be earned through Transparency


On the 21st of September, the Knight Foundation published an analysis of Gallup/Knight Foundation survey data claiming that audiences, particularly those in younger demographics are far more concerned with transparency – when it comes to establishing trust – than the reputation of a specific news outlet or journalist.

This analysis was shared by other institutions such as the Nieman Lab at Harvard, who tweeted the graphic shown above.

The original published analysis can be found here.

For us at “Write In Stone”, it was a signal that we’re on the right track. For the last couple of years we have been building a transparency platform for journalists (and other researchers) to capture, share, and embed their research as “video bibliographies”. The idea was that doing so would provide journalists with a means to surface their original research, grow trust with their audience, and generate additional revenue, while providing audiences with a window into the work and a reason to trust.

Here was the data supporting what we had believed all along. However, in the spirit of practicing what we preach, I thought, why not test the tool out on the research itself?

So, starting with my first encounter – a tweet from Nieman Lab – I did a little “fact check” and followed the link to read more and see whether the data and the analysis really suggested what it claimed. You can see that work embedded as a “research portal” below.

What I found was that the data was far more insistent on transparency as they key to establishing trust than initially advertised. It’s not just young people who want to see how the proverbial sausage is made – it’s everyone.

As individuals, societies, and the world at large struggle to grapple with numerous overlapping crises, our ability to form consensus around key issues becomes ever more important. That makes our ability to elevate quality information and authentic reporting above the chaos critically important as well.

But too often, individuals and institutions expect that increased authority or appeals to legacy will solve the problem. They believe that they deserve the trust of audiences because of who or what they already are. Here’s the thing though – church and state tried that with the printing press half a millennia ago and it was a disaster.

Now as then, the solution to an explosion of information (and disinformation) is not a brand, a place, or a person. It’s a practice.

Trust must be earned. Here is the data to prove it.

And here is the platform to do it.





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