Why do 43% of Americans have a negative view of the news media? Why do two-thirds believe media outlets fail to separate fact from opinion? (Knight Foundation)
In large part, because — unlike travel, real estate and entertainment — the news media doesn’t offer any underlying protocols in which the public can place their faith. There is no shared layer of reliable, standardized data. In fact, apart from RSS and Atom, media production has no universal standards to call its own.
The news industry's lack of data protocols is a fundamental flaw that contributes to the erosion of public trust.
News consumers must have faith in more than just one outlet, network, anchor or reporter. They must have faith in their ability to discern all products of the media — no matter where it's read, watched or shared. Even when they disagree with the reporting, they have the right to know whether it was produced transparently, with accountability and with integrity.
Just as we trust Expedia, Zillow and Fandango because we have faith in the underlying protocols, the same can indeed be true for journalism. This is Pressland's mission.
Pressland isn't the only project working to reverse the media-trust crisis. Several nonprofits are creating certification programs to verify reputable publications based on ownership reports, hiring practices, editorial standards and other "trust markers."
We admire, applaud and actively support these efforts, and we look forward to providing our data to them as a public service. We're also integrating their certifications into the Universal News Protocol, our new open standard for media production.
We do, however, worry that top-down publisher appraisals run the risk of disenfranchising the enormous community of local and independent journalists who, by chance or choice, lack the resources of name-brand media outlets.
At Pressland, we don't believe an institution’s stamp of approval should be required before a news outlet can access distribution channels — no matter how admirable the intentions of that institution.
That's why Pressland takes a bottom-up approach. We don’t require outlets to request certification; they aren’t obliged to rework their CMS. We collect publicly available data from dozens of sources, starting with the article and outlet, and extending outward to social networks, trade organizations, media lists and other sources of professionally relevant information.
Whether they’re international brands or local muckrakers, all media outlets are given equal weight in terms of having their news output indexed. Ours is a quantitative data layer that facilitates better qualitative decisions by our partners and clients.
Pressland is not a nonprofit. We see commercial opportunities in rebuilding the public's trust in media. But we believe that repairing trust-in-news will ultimately benefit everyone who produces, distributes and consumes journalism.
To that end, Pressland serves the entire news ecosystem, from small and independent publishers to global media outlets; from nonprofits and academics to social networks. AND, of course, the general public.