Knight Blog

The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Let’s get it right with real names in 2012

Oct. 28, 2011, 11:18 a.m., Posted by Eric Newton

Today, Knight Foundation is gathering a group of media thought leaders for a discussion about new ways for people to participate in elections through digital tools and content. Follow the conversation via #knightelect.

Traditional news media have made a destructive mistake by encouraging anonymous commenting on their web sites. But it’s not too late to simply do away with this bad idea. The upcoming 2012 election – likely to be the greatest digital political event in American history – offers the perfect opportunity to get journalism’s house in order.

This morning at a Knight Foundation brainstorming session, I was talking about this with Steven Clift, founder of E-Democracy.org. His long experience with political debate has led him to two simple rules: real names, no name calling.

Do media leaders really want the 2012 election to go down in history as the nastiest, most negative and least factual ever? Anonymous commenting in civic forums encourages our worst instincts. It weakens all fact-based brands. And allowing it is just unethical. Professional journalists only allow sources to be anonymous when there is no other way to get important information. That same ethic should apply to web comments. Only leakers should be anonymous. Let’s update the Society of Professional Journalists code of ethics to deal with digital engagement. (It hasn’t been updated since 1996).

Jamieson: Biggest threat to elections is the microtargeting of deceptive ads

Oct. 28, 2011, 10:54 a.m., Posted by Elise Hu

Today, Knight Foundation is gathering a group of media thought leaders for a discussion about new ways for people to participate in elections through digital tools and content. Follow the conversation via #knightelect.

To kick off Knight’s summit on rethinking election coverage, the head of factcheck.org, Annenberg Public Policy Center’s Kathleen Hall Jamieson, sounded a warning: “We are Tom Cruise,” she said. Let me explain.

In a memorable scene from the Tom Cruise film, Minority Report, everywhere Cruise’s character walks, personalized ads move with him, call out his name, and sell products to him as he makes his way down a mall walkway.

 

How journalists, technologists and thinkers are rethinking campaign coverage

Oct. 28, 2011, 8:58 a.m., Posted by Elise Hu

Today, Knight Foundation is gathering a group of media thought leaders for a discussion about new ways for people to participate in elections through digital tools and content. Follow the conversation via #knightelect.

Just as technology and social media are getting credit for aiding democratic movements across the Mideast, millions of Americans remain disengaged in the civic issues that touch their lives. For the voters who are paying attention, the polarization that dominates American politics has eroded trust in media organizations, leading to questions about how truly informed the public is in today’s stratified media landscape. So this week, Knight Foundation has called together technologists, academics and journalists to briefly stop, collaborate and listen (as Vanilla Ice would say).