PERUGIA–A panel of seasoned journalists and media critics discussed the elusive concept of the trust relationship between the public and the news media at the International Journalism Festival on Thursday. The wide-ranging discussion included consideration of whether “filter bubbles” truly exist (and if so, whether they are new), how to make journalism moving yet objective, and why waiting for the public to develop better media literacy on its own is a fool’s hope.
“What does ‘transparency’ mean? It’s one of those words that’s gotten so overused. It’s lost all meaning whatsoever,” said Richard Sambrook, director of the Centre for Journalism at Cardiff University and a former British Broadcasting Corporation journalist. He said news organizations would do well to seek impartiality by recognizing that no source can truly be impartial.
“It’s almost the opposite. It’s recognizing that everyone has a view. But it’s submitting to a series of editorial disciplines to overcome that and raise the standard for what you do,” Mr. Sambrook said. “Coming from a British background, where broadcast news is regulated to be impartial–I think that’s part of the reason much of it is still high-quality.”
“Trust isn’t always a good thing. If trust is deference, or if it’s simply a confirmation bias, then I would argue that that’s a negative,” said Charlie Beckett, director of the journalism think tank Polis at the London School of Economics and a former journalist for the British Broadcasting Corporation. “People are trying to come up with better ways of signalling that a particular piece of content is trustworthy.”
One of those people is Shane Greenup, founder of rbutr, a Chrome extension that aims to lead readers from an article directly to articles that rebut or critique the article they just read. “We thought our access to information would make us all enlightened and informed. But instead it’s just given us better access to rubbish,” said Mr. Greenup. “We need this presence of self-correction.”
Vivian Schiller, a board member at Guardian Media Group owner The Scott Trust, moderated the panel.