I may just have become the first UK-based journalist registered with a website called News Transparency. It's not as exciting as Max Hastings leading the troops into Port Stanley, I know. But, in our business, it may turn out to be as historic.
Me, I don’t amount to a hill of beans. What matters is I have now submitted some rather more important names and profiles (in alphabetical order):
Chris Blackhurst, editor, The Independent
Paul Dacre, editor, Daily Mail
Loyd Embley, editor, The People
Tony Gallagher, editor, Daily Telegraph
James Harding, editor, The Times
Ian MacGregor, editor, The Sunday Telegraph
Kelvin MacKenzie, former editor, The Sun
Dominic Mohan, editor, The Sun
Gareth Morgan, editor, Daily Star Sunday
Dawn Neesom, editor, Daily Star
Alan Rusbridger, editor, The Guardian
Martin Townsend, editor, Sunday Express
Richard Wallace, editor, Daily Mirror
Tina Weaver, editor, Sunday Mirror
Hugh Whittow, editor, Daily Express
John Witherow, editor, Sunday Times
Peter Wright, editor, Mail on Sunday
What surprised me as I did my research was how some of them, especially those editing tabloids, reveal so little about themselves. Public disclosure seems in inverse ratio to market positioning. Rusbridger, Harding - they are very open. But others remain fairly obscure. Well, I don't mind giving a helping hand to these busy people. Whether they like it or not, individual journalists need to be dragged kicking and screaming out of the shadows where they have been allowed to nurture their anonymity for far too long. We have the internet now. Blinking like dazzled pit ponies in Wakes Week, they will be brought up from their dark labyrinths and paraded in daylight, to be bathed in the rays of public accountability. It may be ashock to begin with. But they'll soon be galloping around in the sunshine and they'll love it, they really will. There is absolutely no reason why journalists should hide away as so many do now.
News Transparency was brought to my attention by Roy Greenslade, in his mediaguardian blog, under the heading ‘Holding US journalists to account...’
Roy explained: ‘A new US-based website aims to provide information about American journalists and thereby hold them accountable for their output.
‘News Transparency enables users to "find out more about the people who produce the news" and "hold them accountable, the same way that journalists hold other powerful institutions accountable, by posting reviews and sharing information.’
I thought: what a cracking idea - and what a pity it's only American! It would have been so timely, coming during this period of painful self-examination by the press. So I emailed its creator, saying it was just what we needed over this side of the Atlantic. I received a prompt reply.
Dear Mr. Dale.
Thanks for your note. My site is not US only, I'd be eager and happy to have UK journalists in the database. So if you are a UK-based journalist, please set up a profile for yourself. And if you are a UK-based journalism watchdog, please feel free to use the NewsTransparency site as a platform for your information. I welcome any other feedback you have or suggestions for improving the site.
So I have just registered some of my details - http://www.newstransparency.com/
The important point is you don’t have to do it yourself - that would make it just another facebook or Linkedin. With News Transparency, others can do it on your behalf. This is what matters. Journalists should be more open and here, their articles and history can be posted up so others can see them. I think that this could be a big behaviour modifier. We've all made serious mistakes - certainly I have in my 47 years in the business. I might have thought much harder if I'd known my errors would have gone up next to my photo for all the world to see, for posterity and eternity.
You can do the same. Every submission is moderated before being published and you will see the site seeks solid evidence - articles - rather than insults, although there is space for fair and reasonable comment.
Many journalists demand transparency from others while denying it when it comes themselves. It’s at the root of our problems.
News Transparency could not have come along at a better moment.
The following is from their website:
About News Transparency
How do I use it? News Transparency works similarly to other popular sites on the Web that you're probably already familiar with:
Why does it exist? The founders of America, recognizing that a free press was necessary to a free society, wrote the protections of the First Amendment into the Constitution. Today, polls show public distrust of the media at a record level, and academic research shows that roughly half of newspaper stories contain errors. This site aims to improve the accuracy, quality, and transparency of journalism by making it easier to find out about the individual human beings who produce the news — human beings with opinions, relationships, history, and agendas. That information should help readers, viewers, and listeners put what they are reading in better context, and it may even prompt some improvements by the journalists.
While there may be lots of journalism criticism on the site, we hope there's also lots of praise of excellent journalism. The editor of the site has had a long and happy career as a journalist. Some of his favorite people are journalists. He likes journalists and journalism so much, in fact, that he believes the journalistic techniques that journalists apply to other institutions — criticism, accumulating and transmitting information — should also be applied to the press, which is a powerful institution in its own right.
Who owns it? The site is owned by FutureOfCapitalism, LLC. The manager and majority owner of FutureOfCapitalism, LLC is Ira Stoll. For more information on Mr. Stoll, please see his News Transparency profile.
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