It’s no secret the mainstream media, if not all media, is being publicly called into question over the validity of its reporting.
One recent reminder of the disdain held for news and the journalists who help produce questionable stories is President Trump, who told administration officials not to appear on CNN and once said “Russia is fake news.”
But society’s rising distaste for how the news is presented predates the current American president and the public backlash against an ivory tower or an unrepresentative media oligopoly began taking off in the early, uninhibited internet alternatives.
So what can news organizations actually do now that their currency of credibility is rapidly depreciating?
A solution could come in the form of reputation insurance, a warranty on governance providing indemnity for costs related to reputational damage.
However, reputation insurance is only available to publicly traded companies, limiting the possibility of reputational coverage to titles like The New York Times, Washington Post, New York Post and The Wall Street Journal.
The rest of America’s news media has a curious solution suggested to the struggling field by a provider of reputation insurance, Steel City Re’s Nir Kossovsky.
“The news industry needs to create a process validation code - just like manufacturing created the ISO 9000 quality process - standard operating procedure codes that the industry as a whole can say ‘this is how you produce quality news’,” Kossovsky said.
The idea Kossovsky proposes is simple: news should need the same quality control standards as everything people consume.
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Many insurance companies already demand their clients have some sort of certification for acceptable standards, but building codes and a productive national discourse were never considered of equal value for a nation’s safety.
“The journalism industry has to create a code that when a media company conforms to those standards, through appropriate audits and testing, it can put that mark on its product,” Kossovsky said.
“Just like your toothpaste has a good house-keeping seal because it’s met certain standards, or your electronic device has an underwriter laboratory’s mark because it was produced to certain standards, or your company says it has Steel City Re’s reputational assurance because of its governance.”
Journalists are notoriously stubborn, a trait born out of their devotion to skepticism, and are unlikely to adopt policies from outside their own tradition.
However, glancing at the state of media companies around the world, that stubbornness might warrant some reflection.
“In the news industry, you want a warranty on the process in which news is produced. Just like companies - good governance is how you get good rules, procedures and ethics and safety standards, it’s the process of journalism that produces quality news,” Kossovsky said.