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Quantifying sources and statements with statistical analyses of media reports, distilling data into useful infographics, The 4th Estate Project aims to show the value of professional journalism.

The 4th Estate Project

We deconstruct journalists’ use of sources and statements, and make visible the patterns that exist within their stories. In other words, we are laying bare the ingredients of journalists’ stories. As we do so, we are performing a service that has the potential to highlight how professional journalism is necessarily different from social media, and to reinvigorate the societal appreciation for an independent and professional 4th Estate.

By making the ingredients of news available to the public in real time, we introduce a level of transparency into the journalist-reader exchange that will be required in establishing trust for the readers of tomorrow — readers for whom social media has transformed how they engage and interact with the world. “Authenticity” is now revered by the proponents of new media, but it is not the same thing nor does it carry the same weight as authority. Authority requires context as well as multiple and repeatable access. Privileged access combined with getting out of the chair and getting onto an actual “beat,” creates an information product that is usually unattainable by social media practitioners. That is not to say that traditional journalists do not make mistakes and betray their authority, but it happens rarely as compared to in the social media realm…

We are deep in the planning stages of designing what we will be… after the election. We will, of course, at some point expand our coverage into other vertical high-impact domains such as Energy Policy, Healthcare, and the Financial Markets in some form. But what we are truly excited about is expanding in highly specific ways into these other domains. For example, rather than analyzing Energy in an overly general fashion, we will analyze Energy as a domain that includes multiple interconnected domains such as “Energy Sources,” “Climate Change” and “Extraction.” Eventually, we envision the 4th Estate Project as a repository that spans all of the important issues and stories of the day, and allows a trusted journalist-reader relationship to flourish in the brave new transparent world of today.” Source: 4th Estate co-founder Michael Howe on PBS MediaShift

That journalism struggles with racial diversity is old news, but a study…by The 4th Estate tried to quantify the magnitude of the problem. The organization released an infographic showing that, among the 38 most influential newspapers in the country, 93 percent of front-page articles about the 2012 election were written by white reporters. The infographic received a host of coverage.

All that coverage had to be updated. The 4th Estate, a nonpartisan project that gathers data on media election coverage, didn’t get it all quite right the first time…

[The 4th Estate co-founder Michael] Howe says the graphic released on Thursday contained data that hadn’t been thoroughly checked. He adds: “In the social media world there’s always the pressure between getting something out and factchecking.” With the debates over and the election nearing, the organization felt it necessary to release its study quickly.

“If we knew we were stepping into this explosive zone, maybe we’d have done something different,” says Howe. Source: Columbia Journalism Review

The Journalism Accelerator is not responsible for the content we post here, as excerpts from the source, or links on those sites. The JA does not endorse these sites or their products outright but we sure are intrigued with what they’re up to.