Six things about trust, media and democracy you’ve told us — so far
Since launching this site in mid-November, we’ve been asking you for your ideas on how to improve trust in the media and strengthen our democracy. We’ve summarized and submitted what you’ve told us to the members of the Knight Commission on Trust, Media and Democracy, who are meeting at Stanford University on January 16, 2018. Here’s what we shared with them:
- Regulating social media
Commenters used forceful language to describe the need to regulate social media platforms. “Facebook is a profit and power seeking corporation. They will do only what is good for Facebook. If unregulated and not forced to act in the general good, they can’t be relied on to do anything else,” wrote a Twitter commenter. “If Facebook claims they aren’t a news source and doesn’t want to vet stories the way actual newsrooms typically vet them, then they need to be held responsible for the garbage they let circulate,” opined a Medium commenter.
2. Need for more data from social media platforms
In a #knightcomm Twitter conversation, Andy Guess, one of the authors of “Selective Exposure to Misinformation: Evidence from the consumption of fake news during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign,” wrote that more data is needed from Facebook to study the flow of misinformation: anonymized information on what visitors see in their newsfeed, what they click on, how long they spend on links, as well as “individual covariates (like party ID)! With our tracking data we can back out referrals from social media, but we don’t know what people saw but didn’t click on. Hypothetical data on FB newsfeed contents/engagement would get at that.”
3. Doubt about tech solutions
A few commenters expressed skepticism about whether and how technology can help prevent the spread of disinformation. “There will always be ways to game [corrective bots] and move around them, no doubt,” wrote one Medium commenter.
4. Faith in media literacy
Several commenters expressed the importance in teaching media literacy and faith that it could be effective: “Marketing 101 is critical: “Why would someone pay so much to put up that billboard/advert/commercial? What are their motivations?” Healthy skepticism follows,” wrote a Twitter commenter. “Everything is written with a bias, but if we’re diligent we should be able to find the facts and let go of the biases and opinions. Once we have the facts we can form our own opinions and act accordingly,” wrote a commenter on Medium. “I think there’s a need for new educational tools and methods that help viewers of the news better understand reasoning and judgement in and through the media as it pertains to moral dilemmas in politics,” wrote Dennis Stevens, president of the Conway Cultural Development Corporation, on Medium.
5. Label news and opinion
A few commenters focused on their desire to see news and opinion clearly marked, and for news to be reported fairly and accurately. “Inform, don’t preach,” remarked one commenter on Twitter, adding “opinion-based ‘news’ have to explicitly state that it is merely editorial and not journalism.” One Medium commenter wrote that she wants “More of what happened and let me editorialize for myself. Or let me know that your editorial board is now writing for the news section.”
6. Trust may vary by geography
“One thing that is essential to keep in mind is that there are variations of trust even within markets. There may be some universal themes at play. . . . . [but] the relationship between readers/viewers/listeners will vary by location,” wrote Mark Pitsch, assistant city editor for the Wisconsin State Journal and president of the Madison chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, on Facebook.
Keep the comments coming here and on Twitter at #knightcomm. We’ll make sure the commissioners know about what you are saying as they work to develop their recommendations.