We are living in a time where trust in the news is at an all-time low.

only
42%*

of respondents said they trust the news in a global survey from the 2019 Reuters Institute’s Digital News Report.

only
33%*

said they trust news they find through search engines.

just
23%*

less than a quarter, say they feel they can trust news that is served up to them through social media.

There is more than one reason for this decline in trust.

A decline in freedom of the press

Historical Trends in Press Freedom

Percent of countries where the press is considered free, by year

Chart of percent of countries where the press is considered free, by year

Source: Freedom House

Freedom House reports that the number of nations with a free press has contracted significantly in the past decade. In fact, the report finds that only 13% of the global population enjoys a free and unfettered media: an eco-system where journalists are able to operate safely, government intrusion on the press is minimal and political news coverage is robust.

Less revenue means fewer reporters on the ground

Steady decline in U.S Employment

Reporter and correspondent jobs by year

Chart of reporter and correspondent jobs by year

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

There has been a 12% drop in employment of reporters and correspondents in the US since 2014 according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Legacy revenue models that have supported news organizations for generations have collapsed, leaving marginal budgets for original and investigative reporting for independent publishers.

The spread of misinformation

“Thinking about online news, I am concerned about what is real and what is fake on the internet.”

Chart of distrust in online news

Source: Reuters

More than half of internet users remain concerned about their ability to separate what is real and fake on the internet, according to the Reuters Institute Digital News Report. Technology platforms have proved unable to adequately prevent the dissemination of misinformation, or “fake news,” leading to widespread distrust.

So how can we trust what we read? The Civil Registry represents trust.

Community

The Civil community participates in the governance of the Civil Registry. Newsrooms apply to join the Civil Registry, and it is the community that vets newsroom applicants to ensure that they meet the standards laid out in the Civil Constitution.

Members of the community determine whether or not newsrooms are eligible to participate in the Civil Registry given their editorial policy, initiate challenges to any newsroom that does not uphold the Civil Constitution, and vote on issues using their Civil tokens.

In the first three months after Registry launch, our 422 members have staked 6 challenges to newsroom applications, as well as two separate appeals, and cast more than 4 million tokens worth of votes. We see community governance thriving.

Image of an iphone displaying civil constitution
Image of an iphone displaying civil constitution

Constitution

The Civil Constitution endeavors to document and prescribe the foundational standards and ethical guidelines for independent journalism across the globe. Ratified by the Civil community in March of 2019, this text was created in collaboration with hundreds of editors, reporters, academics and the public and is a living document that will continue to evolve over time.

Newsrooms

More than 50 independent newsrooms across five continents have successfully applied to participate in the Civil Registry. For as long as they are on the Civil Registry, they continue to be held accountable for the quality of their journalism by the Civil community. These newsrooms have publicly committed to adhering to the principles laid out in the Civil Constitution. If at any time they fail to meet these standards, it is at the discretion of the community to initiate a challenge.

Every newsroom that is approved on the Civil Registry also has the option to embed the Civil emblem in the top right corner of their publication. This signifies a layer of trust between newsroom and audience.

To support their efforts, newsrooms rely on a variety of responsible financial models – models that ensure editorial independence and the ability to produce well-reported, independent and honest journalistic content.

Who benefits?

This means any news consumer, whether or not they choose to participate in the governance of the Civil Registry, can safely rely on Civil newsrooms with the assurance that this content is rooted in original and fair reporting. As the community and number of trusted newsrooms continue to grow, as more local and investigative independent newsrooms are given room and support to thrive, we believe the impact of Civil’s mission will be felt across the globe – particularly in areas where freedom of the press is under challenge.

In other words - you’ll have access to the news you need, and can trust what you read.

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