New trust seeks to help 'bewildered' public and 'overworked' journalists

A new independent body has been set up that aims to promote better news media standards in a bid to assist both “a bewildered” public and “overworked” journalists.

The Media Standards Trust has launched with the aim of stimulating debate, conducting research and kickstarting new initiatives to better help news journalists in their jobs and to restore public confidence in quality news gathering.

Dr Martin Moore, director of the Trust, said there was a desire to create a frontline organisation, less academically driven than the Reuters Institute in Oxford, which could engage with current media issues as they happened – to the benefit of journalists and the general public.

Moore said the Trust would assist both parties: “On the one hand you have the public which is feeling quite confused and bewildered particularly as information accumulates. It becomes more and more difficult to distinguish between what’s accurate, what the source of information are, if they have conflicts of interest and if they even have registered those.

“And on the other side, the overworked, overburdened journalists who are desperately trying to keep up when being asked to write articles, do videos, podcasts and everything else. It’s asking how can we continue to sustain high quality journalism and how can we help the public find it and distinguish it from the rest of the stuff accumulating out there?”

The trust will launch later this year in collaboration with Reuters and the BBC. Its pilot project will look at the problems raised by new media.

Proposals include a how-to guide to citizen journalism, creating a forum and resources hub for the citizen journalist. A Wikipedia style directory of journalists and their career history, is also being proposed under the name Journa-list.

Sir David Bell, the chairman of the FT, will chair the Media Standards Trust. Start-up funding has been provided by Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, Esmee Fairbairn Trust, Scott Foundation, and individual trustees.

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