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Aug. 23, 2017, 11:48 a.m.
Audience & Social

Five months in, the News Integrity Initiative is refining its focus on diversity, transparency, and trust

“Fundamentally, we have always seen NII as a public service project. We want people to feel powerful — visible, valued, and engaged in their communities because they are armed with relevant and reliable news and information.”

The News Integrity Initiative — the $14 million news literacy project based at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, backed by funders including Facebook, Craig Newmark, and the Ford Foundation — is getting a clearer path forward.

This morning, NII published a new roadmap for the project, which is designed to better lay out the initiative’s plans and priorities for the future. Beyond building trust between newsrooms and communities via listening and transparency, NII says it plans to direct its efforts primarily at projects that increase empathy among people with opposing viewpoints, amplify marginalized voices, cultivate diversity within news organizations (not just newsrooms), and mitigate the effect of news misinformation. It plans to tackle those problems via a strategy that includes grants, events, research, and a network of people across sectors — including advertising, technology, and academia — to share ideas and collaborative on solutions.

“NII is, broadly speaking, organized around the concepts of ‘trust’ and ‘manipulation’ toward a new kind of news literacy — that is, building trust in journalism while also acknowledging the influence and impact of media manipulation on trust,” managing director Molly de Aguiar said in an email. “But those are big, complex categories, and we can’t tackle it all, so the guidelines we just published are the ways in which we’ve chosen to narrow our focus.” (De Aguiar laid out further thoughts in a post on Medium.)

De Aguiar pointed out two “essential paths forward” for the initiative. One is racial and ethnic diversity in newsrooms, which she said leads to reporting that’s more representative and accountable to communities. Likewise, the program is putting a heavy emphasis on improving the quality and quantity of reporting that that listens to and responds to communities’ actual goals and needs. These ideas are core to the program’s grantmaking initiative, which will focus on funding solutions to the diversity and empathy challenges facing journalism.

Partnerships are a key component of the project. NII plans to work with organizations both outside of journalism and outside of the U.S. to address the core challenges that it will focus on. Collaboration is particularly important here, as it will help organizations both share information and resources, as well as avoid duplicating each other’s efforts.Its newly-formed advisory council, which includes people from Google, Mozilla, and Twitter, as well as various academic institutions, illustrates that part of its mission.

“Fundamentally, we have always seen NII as a public service project,” said De Aguiar. “We want people to feel powerful — visible, valued, and engaged in their communities because they are armed with relevant and reliable news and information.”

Photo of CUNY Graduate School of Journalism by CC0 used under a Creative Commons license.

POSTED     Aug. 23, 2017, 11:48 a.m.
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