Newsroom Transparency Tracker Empowers the Public in an Age of Distrust

There are over 242 codes of ethics in journalism that vary across various regions of the world. The codes of ethics are created through an interaction of different groups of people such as the public and journalists themselves. Most of the codes of ethics serve as a representation of the economic and political beliefs of the society where the code was written.] Despite the fact that there are a variety of codes of ethics, some of the core elements present in all codes are: remaining objective, providing the truth, and being honest.

This week PEN America and the Trust Project released a first-of-its-kind digital tool that tracks the transparency of over fifty leading national and regional media outlets by surfacing the policies, practices, and people behind the news.

The Newsroom Transparency Tracker encourages media outlets to be accountable to the public and empowers the public to make informed choices about the news they watch, listen to, and read.

The Transparency Tracker will serve as:

  • A media literacy tool that empowers the public to hone in on reliable sources of news and defend themselves from fraudulent news and misinformation
  • An accountability tool that encourages news outlets to be more responsive to the interests of the public
  • An educational and research tool that helps teachers, librarians, media industry professionals, and academics assess, and teach the standards and practices behind, news reporting
Susanne Nossel

“In an age when the spread of fraudulent news threatens the fabric of our democracy, it is vital to equip news consumers with the skills that are needed to vet and value the information they receive,” said Suzanne Nossel, Chief Executive Officer of PEN America. “By pressing newsrooms to share more information about how the news is gathered, reported, and edited, we hope the Tracker will help foster trust where it is warranted in reputable newsrooms and begin to inoculate the public against the threat of misleading and false information.”

The Transparency Tracker uses four of the Trust Project’s “Trust Indicators” to highlight the information that each featured media outlet publicly reveals about its ethics codes and related commitments, how it does its work, and the expertise of its journalists. Developed collaboratively by over 100 senior news executives within the Trust Project network, the Trust Indicators are transparency standards rooted in core journalistic values and based on in-depth research capturing what the public values and trusts in news.

“Journalists have ethical values and principles that, all too often, they forget to share with the public, but bold transparency is key to regaining a trustworthy press,” said Sally Lehrman, award-winning journalist and CEO of the Trust Project. “Our Trust Indicators are designed to pull back the curtain on who and what is behind real journalism, so we all can make more informed choices about the news we consume.”

PEN America’s commitment to newsroom transparency is also rooted in research, which has included reports on the harmful impact of fraudulent news on free expression and civic life in the United States. In October 2017, PEN America published the report Faking News: Fraudulent News and the Fight for Truth, which found that the spread of fraudulent news has been magnified by declining trust in traditional (“mainstream”) news media. One of the report’s key recommendations for news outlets was to be more transparent, particularly regarding the ethics that underpin reporting and editing, fact-checking, corrections, and distinguishing news from commentary and opinion.

The Trust Project is the first organization to address mistrust in the news by developing global transparency standards, giving the public access to tools for combating misinformation. The Tracker expands awareness of and access to the consortium’s Trust Indicators, which an estimated 327 million people see across over 125 news partner websites. Dozens of additional news sites are in the process of adopting and implementing the Trust Indicators.


Who the partners are:

PEN America is a nonprofit organization that stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Its mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. Founded in 1922, PEN America is the largest of the more than 100 centers worldwide that make up the PEN International network and works to ensure that people everywhere have the freedom to create literature, to convey information and ideas, to express their views, and to access the views, ideas, and literatures of others.

The Trust Project is a global, collaborative network of news organizations building Trust Indicators and working with technology platforms to affirm and amplify journalism’s commitment to transparency, accuracy, inclusion, and fairness so that the public can make informed news choices. Led by award-winning journalist Sally Lehrman, the Trust Project is based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Lehrman founded the nonprofit, nonpartisan Trust Project in 2014 as a response to the crisis of trust in news and the increasing confusion over the distinctions between journalism and information that may be advertising, promotion, or actual propaganda.

PEN America and the Trust Project are grateful to Craig Newmark Philanthropies for making the Newsroom Transparency Tracker possible.

This post is courtesy of PEN America, the Trust Project, and Wikipedia.


Recent in digital publications: 
* Four poemsI Am Not a Silent Poet
* Remembering Mom, HerStry
* Three poems, Levure littéraire
Upcoming in digital publications:
“Over His Morning Coffee,” Front Porch Review

A homebound writer, poet, and former columnist and associate editor of a regional employment newspaper, my work has been featured widely in print and digital publications including: Ramingo’s Porch, Vita Brevis Literature, Connotation Press, The Bar None Group, Salamander Cove, I Am Not a Silent Poet, The Compass Rose and California Woman. I run The Poet by Day, an info hub for poets and writers and am the founding/managing editor of The BeZine.

“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton



POETRY ON THE BIG SCREEN: “It is difficult to have the heart to write a poem.”


“The apricot throws itself on the ground. It is crushed and trampled for its next life.”  Yang Mija “sees” while walking through an orchard and takes notes in her poetry notebook

Poetry  (2009), the second movie suggestion for a holiday break movie, is a Korean movie with English subtitles. It speaks quietly about life and art, devastation and redemption. Like the most refined poetry, it is nuanced, honest and dramatic without being melodramatic or manipulative. It is a spare work, whittled down to essentials. It whispers. It never shouts.  Its pacing is leisurely and thoughtful. There is no suggestive music here to help you grasp the story’s progression. There are no stars who’ve been nipped, tucked, brushed, trussed and boosted. These people are real. They could be me or you or a next-door neighbor.  The story could be anyone’s story anywhere in the world. Indeed, Director Lee Chang-dong got the basic idea for the screenplay from news reports..

… this story was finally born from a combination of different elements: the sexual assault case, the suicide of a girl, and the lady in her 60s writing a poem.” Lee Chang-dong

Yoon Jeong-hee stars in the leading role (Yang Mija) and it is the lean script (though the movie is over two hours long) and Jeon-hee’s exquisitely understated acting that transfix us. Watch her face. Watch her body movements.  These also are a kind of poetry.

“I’m quite a poet. I do like flowers and say odd things.” Yang Mija

Yang Mija is a sixty-six year-old grandmother charged with the care of a teenaged grandson, Jongwook – or Wook – whose mother is divorced and living in Busan. Wook is lazy and ungrateful and shows no respect for his grandmother or sensitivity to her age and her loneliness.

“You’re sprouting a mustache but acting like a child.” Yang Mija to Wook

Wook is part of a gang of male friends, fellow students, who over the course of six months repeatedly rape a young woman who subsequently drowns herself. News of this comes coincident with Yang Mija’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and her first poetry class. It is her poetry classes and effort to write a poem that provide the through-line for this story.

“The most important thing is seeing.” the poetry instructor to the class on the first day

img1-lgWe walk alongside Yang Mija as she struggles with these multiple challenges – not without some humor – and sorts through her emotions regarding her grandson’s actions, her sympathy for the drowned girl, and the desire of other parents to hide the boys’ culpability by buying off the drowned girl’s mother. While Yang Mija may be suffering the early stages of memory loss, she hasn’t lost her moral compass.

As she moves from one experience to the next, Yang Mija questions: How do you write a poem? Where does the poetry come from? When she decides her grandson must face the consequences of his actions, she is finally able to write her poem.

Agnes’s Song

How is it over there?
How lonely is it?
Is it still glowing red at sunset?
Are the birds still singing on
the way to the forest?

Can you receive the letter
I dared not send?
Can I convey the confession
I dared not make?
Will time pass and roses fade?

Now it is time to say goodbye,
Like the wind that lingers
And then goes, just like shadows.

To promises that never came,
To the love sealed till the end,
To the grass kissing my weary ankles,
and to the tiny footsteps following me,
It is time to say goodbye.

Now as darkness falls
will a candle be lit again?
Here I pray nobody shall cry
and for you to know
how deeply I loved you.

The long wait in the middle
of a hot summer day.
An old path resembling my father’s face.
Even the lonesome wild flower
shyly turning away.

How deeply I loved.
How my heart fluttered at
hearing your faint song.
I bless you
before crossing the black river
with my soul’s last breath.

I am beginning to dream…
A bright sunny morning again I awake,
blinded by the light and meet you
standing by me.

– Yang Mija

“It is not difficult to write a poem. It is difficult to have the heart to write a poem.” the poetry instructor on the last day of class. Yang Meja is not in attendance but has left a bouquet of flowers and her poem.

You can stream Poetry on Amazon, if you are interested. It’s quite a memorable film.

© 2016, review, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved; Photographs, poem, quotes courtesy of and property of the filmmaker and used here under fair use.

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