News literacy campaign to promote sharing trustworthy news

Sep 1, 2020

Microsoft, the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA), The Trust Project, the Center for an Informed Public (CIP) at the University of Washington (UW) and UW’s Accelerating Social Transformation Program (AST) announced today the formation of the nonpartisan Trusted Journalism Partnership.

The collaboration will produce a public service announcement (PSA) campaign encouraging people to take a “reflective pause” and check to make sure information comes from a reputable news organization before they share or promote it on social media ahead of the November 2020 elections.

The Trusted Journalism Campaign, made possible through funding from Microsoft, will encourage people to better understand the harm misinformation has on our democracy and how they can counteract that harm by sharing reliable information instead. The campaign’s call to action will urge members of the public to apply the Trust Project Indicators to check for transparency and accuracy, and sign a pledge to join a community of individuals who thoughtfully evaluate information sources before they share.

Microsoft’s Defending Democracy Program works with governments, non-government organizations, academics and industry in democratic countries globally to protect campaigns from hacking, increase political advertising transparency online, explore technological solutions to preserve and protect electoral processes, and defend against disinformation campaigns.

“Combating the spread of disinformation is a key goal of Microsoft’s Defending Democracy Program, and we hope this PSA will encourage people to critically consider the information they consume, and recognize false narratives before sharing on their platforms with friends and family,” said Jan Neutze, Senior Director, Digital Diplomacy, at Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft.

“A significant part of our mission is to promote and protect journalism by demonstrating its role and importance to the public, including how fact-based journalism is different than other types of media, like social media,” according to Dan Shelley, Executive Director and COO at the Washington, D.C.-based RTDNA.

“Our Trust Indicators provide an easy checklist for making decisions about what news comes from reputable news organizations and what might be intentionally misleading or just plain wrong,” said Sally Lehrman, founder and CEO of the global Trust Project, based near San Francisco. “Developed by listening to the public, they guide people to the core ways that journalism stands apart through a commitment to accuracy and public service.”

“In this tumultuous time when it is hard to differentiate news for its authenticity this PSA campaign will raise everyone’s awareness to stop and check before sharing any information and curtail the spread of fake news.  Our democracy depends on it,” says Akhtar Badshah, Distinguished Practitioner, UW Evans School and founder of Accelerating Social Transformation.

The Seattle-based Center for an Informed Public, a multidisciplinary research center at the University of Washington whose mission is to resist strategic misinformation, promote an informed society and strengthen democratic discourse, will help develop, study and optimize the PSA messaging deployed in the media literacy campaign.

“One of the central goals of this PSA campaign is to remind us all to think more, share less. There will be a substantial amount of misinformation before the election on both sides of the aisle. It is our job to slow its spread,” according to CIP director Jevin West, an associate professor at the UW Information School.

The initial campaign will be deployed in the coming weeks through the Trusted Journalism Partnership’s respective social media channels, and by similar organizations aimed at protecting against the spread of disinformation, with a follow-up campaign, utilizing insights gained from the performance of the initial PSAs, ahead of the 2020 elections.

To become a distribution partner and help spread the word about misinformation and the critical need for sharing trusted journalism, visit trustedjournalism.org.

This project was incubated within Cascade Public Media‘s Hive Media Lab, in collaboration with current campaign director Pamela Kilborn-Miller, Akhtar Badshah of UW Accelerating Social Transformation program, Jevin West of the CIP and the UW DataLab, and the Global Leadership Forum in Seattle. The Peg and Rick Young Foundation provided startup funding, with additional funding by The Trust Project and support from Facebook. 4Site Interactive Studios in Washington, D.C. is providing creative services for the campaign.

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About the Radio Television Digital News Association:
The Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) is the world’s largest professional organization devoted exclusively to broadcast and digital journalism. Founded as a grassroots organization in 1946, RTDNA’s mission is to promote and protect responsible journalism. RTDNA defends the First Amendment rights of electronic journalists throughout the country, honors outstanding work in the profession through the Edward R. Murrow Awards and provides members with training to encourage ethical standards, newsroom leadership and industry innovation.

About The Trust Project: The Trust Project is an international consortium of news organizations promoting the Trust Indicator standards of transparency and working with technology platforms to affirm and amplify journalism’s commitment to accuracy, inclusion and fairness so that the public can make informed news choices. It was founded and is led by award-winning journalist Sally Lehrman and more than 200 news sites now show the Trust Indicators on their pages.

About the UW Center for an Informed Public: The Center for an Informed Public (CIP) is a multidisciplinary research center at the University of Washington in Seattle with a mission to resist strategic misinformation, promote an informed society and strengthen democratic discourse. Established in 2019 in part through funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the CIP has brought together world-class researchers, labs, thought leaders and practitioners to translate research about misinformation and disinformation into policy, technology design, curriculum development and public engagement.

About the Accelerating Social Transformation Program: The UW Accelerating Social Transformation Program (AST) provides unique, immersive experiences that drive social impact and spur innovation across sectors in support of the most vulnerable people in our society. Akhtar Badshah, the former head of Microsoft Philanthropies, helps students think broadly and deeply about major challenges facing social entrepreneurs. Students learn from industry influencers and leading-edge organizations about how to adapt to and embrace transformational change, as well as improve effectiveness across complex operating environments.

Photo by Tom Raferty via Flickr used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license (CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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