/ Organization & Culture

How can we "trust" News again?

Recenlty, The Knight Foundation has jumped on board the "fake news" bandwagon to assemble a commission [1] to look at the challenges faced with the News today [2]. They are putting up a whopping $2.5 million. Combine that with other initiatives and you're looking at roughly $4.5 million [3].

How 'bout - if I come up with a solution, I get the money?

Here's my 4 part plan ( 3, with part 2 as an I & II ):

Protect the word "News"

There's loads of words and symbols in organizations and companies that have meaning.

  • Corporation, Inc., LLC.
  • Trademarks ™, Registered Trademarks ®, Copyright ©, Prescriptions ℞

You can't willy-nilly throw them around. If you do, there could be consequences.

"News" should be recognized as one of them.

Legislate protections of the word. Create symbology.

I am not a news organization. I am a blogger and pretty much anything I write about here is personal and editorial[4]. I don't pretend to be News

Calling yourself "news" should have meaning.

Stop the Greed Part I: No public trading

I believe that publicly traded companies kill specific industries. The striving for a +% at any costs kills long term vision and makes companies do pretty dumb things.

i.e. Last year company A did $2 Billion, but because of trading, it's only if they make $2.1 Billion that they are a success. if they make $1.9 Billion, then they fail, and people start selling and loosing fail. When really, they made $1.9 Billion!!!

Media Companies, and more specifically News organizations can't be subject to any of that.

Stop the Greed Part II: No buy or sell

This blog uses Ghost, and over and above the platform and software they've built - the organization is non-profit, open and transparent. Additionally one of the interesting legalese they've embedded is that it cannot be bought or sold.

That doesn't mean people don't get paid well. That doesn't mean it can't grow to be a massive organization.

It just means Ghost will remain Ghost. If it fails, and I'm hopeful it won't, if a new organization takes the mantel, it still won't be Ghost.

Perhaps clauses like these, similar to various corporate clauses, is what would define these new News organizations.

A Journalistic Bar

Lawyers have a very interesting structure, I think could be looked at.

The first hurtle is to be called to the bar. Here in Canada you get called up once you pass law school. In the States, there's more nuance, but ultimately pass the Bar exam, and join the bar association, your in. You could skip to the end without school, but good luck.

After that there are several incentives to keep you going. Money through ownership and billable hours. Status through high profile cases. Satisfaction saving people ( on either side ). Career growth by becoming a judge and moving up the circuits. There are several more, but the diversity of motivation is my point.

  • Post graduate education
  • Certified Peer Group
  • Diverse Motivation

Combine 'em all

If you were to combine all of these you would have a structure to nurture, grow, educate and incentivise journalists to stay true to their ethics and convictions. And sure, just like lawyers there are some who may stray a tad from the ethical line - there is still a watchdog "bar" making sure they don't step out too far.

Then after indoctrinated into the Journalistic scribe, you end up in a system that helps you nurture the future without the compromise or desire to sway the ethics or push/tow the line you other media properties are, so that hopefully you could sell and make the big bucks.

Dear Knight Foundation:
Please make the cheque out to Nicholas Kempinski


  1. Knight Foundation Announces Major Trust, Media and Democracy Initiative to Build a Stronger Future for Jounalism ↩︎

  2. Pew Research: 2. Trust and accuracy ↩︎

  3. With $4.5 million, Knight is launching a new commission — and funding more new projects — to address declining public trust in media ↩︎

  4. In public, and still subject to laws, at least in Canada ↩︎

Nick Kempinski

Nick Kempinski

Armchair communications thinker refusing to say "full stack developer". I'm on the web; I do things.

Read More