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.

RELATED:

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.


ABOUT

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



 

 

HEADS-UP MY FELLOW CALIFORNIANS: PEN America Emerging Voices Fellowships L.A.

 

“Arts and culture are inextricably linked to our humanity,” said Nashormeh Lindo, California Arts Council Chair. “They serve as a universal touchpoint for understanding and addressing our societal issues—dismantling inequity, healing trauma, reframing justice, inspiring truth and shaping futures.”



This week the California Arts Council announced a grant award of $18,000 to PEN America LA to support its Emerging Voices Fellowships offering literary mentorship to new writers isolated from the literary establishment.

“Emerging Voices is grateful to receive support from the California Arts Council, allowing us to continue our decades-long mission to enrich and diversify the literary community in Los Angeles and beyond at a critical time for writers and their stories,” Michelle Franke, Executive Director of PEN America LA.

City of Los Angeles flag

Local Impact supports community-driven arts projects for small and mid-sized arts organizations to foster equity, access, and opportunity in historically marginalized communities. The program centers the arts as a vehicle for building strong, healthy, vibrant, and resilient communities. Historically marginalized communities may include but are not limited to African and African American; Arab; Asian and Asian American; Latinx; Middle Eastern; Native American and Indigenous Californian; Pacific Islander; lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, transgender and gender-variant people; people with disabilities; women; low-income, rural, or immigrant and refugee communities.

PEN America LA is one of 190 grantees chosen for the Local Impact program. The award was featured as part of a larger announcement from the California Arts Council, with grant funds totaling a projected $24,508,541 for 2018-19, the highest investment in statewide arts programming since the 2000-01 fiscal year.

“Arts and culture are inextricably linked to our humanity,” said Nashormeh Lindo, California Arts Council Chair. “They serve as a universal touchpoint for understanding and addressing our societal issues—dismantling inequity, healing trauma, reframing justice, inspiring truth and shaping futures.”

The mission of the California Arts Council, a state agency, is to advance California through the arts and creativity. The Council is committed to building public will and resources for the arts; fostering accessible arts initiatives that reflect contributions from all of California’s diverse populations; serving as a thought leader and champion for the arts; and providing effective and relevant programs and services.

Members of the California Arts Council include: Chair Nashormeh Lindo, Vice Chair Larry Baza, Juan Devis, Jodie Evans, Kathleen Gallegos, Jaime Galli, Donn K. Harris, and Louise McGuinness. Learn more at www.arts.ca.gov.

*****

PEN.org logo

PEN America has joined forces with the former PEN Center USA in California as one nationwide organization united under the PEN America banner. Now with 7,000 members coast-to-coast, PEN is an even stronger force to defend against looming threats to open discourse and a free press, to stand with writers and creators who face persecution, and to celebrate literary excellence both established and emerging. The PEN America Los Angeles office, led by Executive Director Michelle Franke, remains a vital hub for carrying on established programs and expanding advocacy in defense of free expression worldwide and other new initiatives.

This post courtesy of PEN America and the California Arts Council.  Illustrations are in the public domain.



ABOUT

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



 

Honoring Dauntless Truthtellers

Lupita Nyong’o / presented Anita Hill with the 2019 PEN Courage Award at the American Literary Gala on Tuesday at the American Museum of Natural History

2019 PEN America Literary Gala hosted by John Oliver featured speeches from Lupita Nyong’o, Alec Baldwin, Robert Caro, Lina and Walid Al-Hathloul, PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel, and PEN America President Jennifer Egan. Gala Raises Over $2.6 Million for PEN America’s Work to Defend Freedom of Expression



At the American Museum of Natural History in New York on Tuesday, PEN America gathered leaders in literature, journalism, media, activism, and culture at the 2019 PEN America Literary Gala. The role of lone individuals in using written and spoken words to unmask and upend power was on potent display in honorees including professor, lawyer, activist, and Chair of The Hollywood Commission on Eliminating Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality Anita Hill; history-making investigative journalist and author Bob Woodward; writer-activists and women’s rights champions Nouf Abdulaziz, Loujain Al-Hathloul, and Eman Al-Nafjan, imprisoned for opposing the male guardianship system in Saudi Arabia and punished for their role in overturning the country’s ban on women driving; and Scholastic Chairman and CEO Richard Robinson, recognized for leading the company’s charge to inform the next generation and inspire them to be empathetic, engaged citizens. The night was emceed by comedian John Oliver.

Seated among guests in the Museum’s Millstein Hall of Ocean Life were this year’s literary hosts, luminaries of the writing community who attended to support and help advance PEN America’s mission: Uwem Akpan, Rumaan Alam, Casey Barrett, Preet Bharara, Jennifer Finney Boylan, Carolyn Burke, Robert A. Caro, Roz Chast, Ron Chernow, Susan Choi, Erica Dawson, Masha Gessen, Peter Godwin, Robie H. Harris, James Hannaham, David Henry Hwang, Min Jin Lee, Hari Kondabolu, Hari Kunzru, Kevin Kwan, Jay McInerney, Dinaw Mengestu, Paul Muldoon, Lynn Nottage, Gregory Pardlo, Jodi Picoult, Phoebe Robinson, Aidan Donnelley Rowley, Salman Rushdie, Mona Simpson, Zadie Smith, Gay Talese, Vicky Ward, and Tara Westover. Other notable guests included Carl Bernstein, Candace Bushnell, Tonya Lewis Lee, Cynthia McFadden, Nicolle Wallace, and Robert Costa.

Time’s Up is a movement against sexual harassment and was founded on January 1, 2018, by Hollywood celebrities[2] in response to the Weinstein effect and #MeToo. As of December 2018, it has raised more than $22 million for its legal defense fund, and gathered nearly 800 volunteer lawyers

Anita Hill

Academy Award-winning actress and Sulwe author Lupita Nyong’o presented Anita Hill with the 2019 PEN Courage Award, conferred each year for dauntless exercises of free expression, in recognition of Hill’s singular role in challenging sexual harassment in the workplace and the attendant abuse of power. “As an organization that protects and amplifies the voices that those in power seek to silence, it is fitting that PEN America honors Anita Hill tonight,” said Nyong’o. “She had no safety in numbers. She was one woman calling Time’s Up decades before the wider society was ready to blow the whistle. She made her accusations against a man who would sit on the nation’s highest court and wield power for decades to come. Twenty-eight years later, amid an unstoppable wave of personal revelation and truth-telling that emulates Hill’s initial heroic act, a paradigm shift is occurring. With the #MeToo and Time’s Up movement, we can speak together.”

Following an extended standing ovation, Anita Hill gave a speech tracing the significance of using her voice as a force for change: “As a descendant of a people who just a few generations before me were by law prohibited from learning to read and write, tonight’s honor is particularly meaningful. By virtue of her race, my maternal grandmother, born in 1870, was never offered a public education, and therefore never learned to read or write. But she saw to it that my mother, born in 1911, went to school, read throughout her life, and wrote. She wrote letters to me regularly during my college years. And her letters typically chronicled farm life, church life, and family life. Though she passed away years ago, when I read her letters, I hear her voice. Yet I also wonder what she might have written if she had felt truly free to express all aspects of her life…I am here today to say that I have my voice. And my ancestors’ story reminds me that I must never take having my voice for granted, and I must never abuse it. It’s taken generations to gain this privilege, the privilege I have to write and to speak out with the truth, and to speak truth to power. It’s taken that long, and I will never, ever give it up.”

Carl Bernstein

Two-time Pulitzer Prize and two-time National Book Award winning journalist and author Robert Caro (The Power Broker, The Years of Lyndon B. Johnson) introduced peerless investigative journalist and author Bob Woodward, winner of the 2019 PEN America Literary Service Award for his 47 years of work at the Washington Post and 19 bestselling nonfiction books. His writings have held the White House accountable for decades—and moved citizens across the political spectrum to do the same. Presenting the award, Caro spoke of the journalistic triumph of breaking the Watergate Scandal, which he and his partner Carl Bernstein achieved by knocking on the doors of 100 potential sources at their homes in the evening.

Bob Woodward

Caro said of Woodward, “What is a great reporter? Someone who never stops trying to get as close to the truth as possible. Sometimes it means taking a list of 100 names, going through that list name by name, and crossing out those names one by one until you have found and done your best to talk to everyone. That’s reporting; that’s the search for the truth. Novelists, poets, nonfiction writers—we are all trying to search for, illuminate, and provide insight into whatever truth there is. In his entire career, Bob Woodward has never stopped trying to seek out facts, as many facts as he could get.”

Bob Woodward reflected on Richard Nixon’s resignation: “Why? Why all the criminality? Why all the abuse of power? It was hate, the poison of hate, that awful, destructive force of utter contempt for other people. It was the engine of his presidency in so many ways and it, in the end, destroyed him. Now, 45 years later, President Donald Trump publicly exploits the divisions in this country without restraint. The Trump rallies are primal amphitheaters. He has turned hate, in his own way, into ammunition for personal and political warfare.” Woodward, whose most recent book, Fear: Trump in the White House, addressed the current administration’s untruths in perpetuating this hate, and their parallel to 1974, continuing, “Ben Bradlee, the editor at the [Washington] Post, used to tell us how you deal with the stress of reporting a story when it’s hard: Nose down, ass up, moving slowly forward to the truth.” Following his speech, Carl Bernstein joined Woodward onstage to share in the celebration of his former colleague and longtime friend.

The PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award annually recognizes journalists imprisoned for their work and, with the public profile of the award, globally amplifies the urgency of their cases. Of the 44 jailed writers who have received the award since 1987, 39 have been released due in part to the global attention and pressure the award generates. This year, PEN America honored journalist, blogger, and activist, activist and social media commentator Loujain Al-Hathloul, and blogger, columnist, and activist Eman Al-Nafjan, who have spoken out about women’s rights and the now-lifted ban on women driving, part of Saudi Arabia’s restrictive guardianship system. They are currently detained incommunicado, with Saudi authorities refusing to disclose information about their health conditions.

copyright: PEN American, Eman Al-Nafjan and Loujain Al-Hathloul, Nouf Abdulaziz’s photograph is not publicly available, for privacy and safety reasons.

Al-Hathloul’s sister and brother Lina and Walid Al-Hathloul traveled to New York to accept the Award on the writer-activists’ behalf. Lina imagined Loujain feeling daily what Rosa Parks described when she said, “I would like to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free, so other people would be also free.” Lina told the crowd of PEN America supporters that by awarding Loujain, along with Abdulaziz and Al-Nafjan, the PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award, they were becoming “the voice of the voiceless…who was once the voice of the voiceless but has been sent behind bars to be silenced as well.” Walid added, “The idea of knowing she is not forgotten, and that people still stand with her, is the strongest breath of freedom she can inhale when everything else has been made to break her.”

John Oliver

John Oliver remarked, “That’s as visceral a reminder as any of what this evening is all about…PEN America’s advocacy on behalf of these courageous women and so many others around the world who are under threat, imprisoned, or even worse for exercising their expression rights is so necessary right now. Together we can make sure that they know they are not forgotten. If we stand with them against forces of authoritarianism, censorship, and silencing, together we can make a difference—as happened with the journalists just released from prison in Myanmar—which is remarkable, and it doesn’t happen without pressure.” Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo—who reported on mass atrocities by the Myanmar army against the Rohingya people in Rakhine State, and were last year’s PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award honorees—were granted amnesty on May 6, 2019, and freed from Insein prison.

This year’s Publishing Honoree, Richard Robinson, has been at the helm of Scholastic for over 40 years, overseeing the company as it has informed and inspired young readers. Alec Baldwin, a neighbor and friend of Robinson, introduced him, saying, “Dick is someone who exemplifies PEN America’s mission—a mission that resonates deeply with me personally, as we continue to fight for a free press and to acknowledge the importance of freedom of thought and creative expression. Dick understands the importance of language—how much depends on our ability to express our ideas, to access books that can change us and challenge us. Under his leadership, Scholastic has become not just the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books, but also an organization that helps schools, teachers, and parents work together to make great stories accessible and relevant to millions of young people.”

Baldwin quoted a letter to Robinson, penned for the occasion by Scholastic author J.K. Rowling: “You’ve centered your life and your business around the fundamental belief that every individual child should be enabled to develop their potential to the fullest possible extent, and that a key part of that is the ability to read, and to discover other worlds through stories. I’m just one of the people who is incredibly grateful to you for having made this your mission.”

Robinson remarked that PEN America “knows that the basis of our democracy is being challenged, and that the ability of young people to develop a fact-and-reason-based approach to the world is critical to our future.” He continued, “The history of Scholastic in this area has often been controversial. We have been banned in schools in the ‘30s and ‘50s for being too soft on communism; in the ‘40s and the ‘60s for promoting liberal views on race, civil rights, and the Vietnam War; in the ‘70s for articles on student rights—not a popular subject in schools; in the 80s and 90s for climate change; and in the 2000s for the Iraq war. Despite these controversies and temporary bans, schools have relied on our balanced approach to help young gain basic knowledge about their world, with the larger goal of helping kids know how to build and maintain a fragile democracy.”

Susanne Nossel

PEN America Chief Executive Officer Suzanne Nossel said, “Tonight’s honorees span generations, geographies, and cultures but are united by their fearless fealty to truth. Whether by buckling up to document a law-defying drive across the Saudi border, publishing an expose of the rot in the White House, or taking the witness stand against a man about to be anointed for life to the highest court in the land, their willingness to imperil their lives, sully their reputations, and sacrifice their freedoms to write and speak truth are the embodiment of what PEN America exists to safeguard.”

PEN America President Jennifer Egan said, “Thank you all for joining us tonight to champion literary expression and insist upon its cultural and civic value, both around the world and here at home.”

This feature is courtesy of PEN America and Wikipedia; photo credits: Lupita Nyong’o courtesy of Daniel Benavides under CC BY 2.0; the Times-Up logo is in the public domain; Anita Hill courtesy of Gage Skidmore under CC BY-SA 3.0Carl Bernstein courtesy of Larry D. Moore under CC BY-SA 3.0; Bob Woodward courtesy of Jay Godwin and generously released into the public domain; Eman Al-Nafjan and Loujain Al-Hathloul courtesy of and copyright of PEN America; John Oliver courtesy of Steve Jennings under CC BY 2.0; and Susan Nossel courtesy of PEN America under CC BY-SA 4.0.

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. It champion’s 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.


WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY

 

The universal declaration of human rights 10 December 1948 / public domain photograph

“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Paris, December 10, 1948



Last week PEN America applauded the introduction of two tandem bipartisan Congressional resolutions marking World Press Freedom Day, recognizing “widening threats to freedoms of the press and expression around the world, reaffirming the centrality of a free and independent press to the health of democracy, and reaffirming freedom of the press as a priority of the United States in promoting democracy, human rights and good governance.”

In the United States Senate, the resolution was proposed by Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bill Casey (D-PA), along with 10 others. In the House of Representatives, the resolution has been introduced by the two co-chairs of the Press Freedom Caucus, Representatives Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Steve Chabot (R-OH).

PEN America’s Washington Director, Thomas O. Melia, commended these initiatives:

“It is more important than ever before that public officials in America speak up for the press, as the threats against journalists on every continent are mounting day by day. That these initiatives command bipartisan support in Congress is heartening, given the fractious nature of politics these days.”

Eleanor Roosevelt and United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Spanish text. / Public domain photograph

Since 1993, the United Nations has recognized World Press Freedom Day annually around the globe on May 3. It has been a day dedicated to affirming the fundamental principles of press freedom, celebrating the positive impact journalism has on communities, honoring journalists for the work they do to hold the powerful accountable, and standing up on behalf of those who have been silenced, imprisoned, or killed for their work as journalists.

In addition to citing the authoritative research and advocacy for press freedom by Freedom House*, the Committee to Protect Journalists**, and Reporters Without Borders, both resolutions specifically refer to the recipients of the PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award in 2018—the Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, sentenced in September 2018 to seven years in prison for their reporting on atrocities committed by the Burmese military against the Rohingya minority in Myanmar.  The 2019 recipients referenced in the two Congressional resolutions are writer-activists Nouf Abdulaziz, Loujain Al-Hathloul, and Eman Al-Nafjan who have been subjected to imprisonment, solitary confinement, and torture by the Saudi Arabian government as part of its brutal crackdown on individuals who raise their voices in defense of women’s rights in the Kingdom.

The full text of the U.S. Senate resolution can be found HERE.

Brad Hoylman courtesy of Mchida under

Also, according to PEN America, on May 3, The New York State Senate introduced and passed a resolution to mark World Press Freedom Day, affirming the centrality of the free press to our democracy. The resolution, sponsored by Senator Brad Holyman, is intended galvanize New York support and protection for press freedom at a time when attacks on journalists are on the rise in this country and amid declines in local news that would otherwise inform civic participation. Senator Holyman stated:

“Free expression is more important than ever as we witness journalists threatened, jailed and killed across the world, including in the United States,” said New York Senator Brad Holyman, sponsor of the resolution. “I’m proud to stand up for the integrity of a free and open press by passing this resolution, and grateful to PEN America for their essential work to safeguard free expression in New York and across the country.”

* Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

** Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is an American independent non-profit, non-governmental organization, based in New York City, New York with correspondents around the world. CPJ promotes press freedom and defends the rights of journalists. The American Journalism Review has called the organization “Journalism’s Red Cross”

*** Reporters Without Borders also known under its original name Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF), is an international non-profit, non-governmental organization based in Paris that conducts political advocacy on issues relating to freedom of information and freedom of the press. According to RSF only 9% of people live in a country where press freedom is good. 

*****

This post courtesy of PEN America, the United Nations, Freedom House, Reporters Without Borders, and Wikipedia

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. It champions 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.