Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Trust and newspapers: rule 1 don't put the inconsistency on the front page

The science of selling newspapers is clearly Quantum and Stringy right now, but surely we can do a little better than this?

In the crowded Babel of the “information-rich” society, the key is the building and preservation of trust. That point is hardly original. But I’d like to underline the connection between plurality and trust. It’s good to go back to first principles and one of the best questions being asked and answered here was: what value does journalism add? The common denominator in the answers was that reliable information helps voters.

If a society is open and free, there will be no Great Editor in the Sky to settle the question of what or who does that best. A truly plural society will see a competition to establish trust. Someone spoke of the need for a gold standard. In an open society, the gold may mix with dross and people will argue about which is which. Journalism will be an alloy.

George Brock, Times International Editor, and conference chair of the journalism and democracy closed get together at Ditchley Park this week, in part of his summing up of the proceedings.

As Polis Director, Charlie Beckett, explains on his blog:

The thoughts of the various international editors, journalists, academics, experts and officials from government and other organisations were expressed under Chatham House rules.

Read both Beckett & Brock here.

And then see if you can join the dots between "the building and preservation of trust" and "Chatham House rules."

It can't be that hard. But just one question: what is there to be so secret about?

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