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The Alliance for Journalist Freedom (AJF) believes one of the key questions currently facing the media is how to rebuild trust in journalism.

Speaking on a panel discussing How to Build Trust in Contemporary Journalism at the University of Tasmania, AFJ director Peter Greste said there are several fundamental questions that need public discussion.

“We need to rethink the news ecosystem. Digital disruption has weakened traditional journalism, and created an environment where the things that make news profitable can run counter to the traditional values of quality news. The two don’t necessarily fit together,” said Greste.

“The AJF believes that improved trust in journalism is essential if it is to fulfill its role in a democracy. The news exists so the public can be informed, and investigative journalism is essential to keep government and business in check. Journalists have an intrinsic role in society yet traditional outlets are now fighting tooth and nail for every dollar, degrading their ability to do their jobs.

“Journalists need all our support during this very difficult transition,” said Greste. “It’s not just in their interests – it’s in the interests of all Australians to have a strong, effective media.”

These questions have been examined in a Knight Foundation research paper, which found that one in four people in the US do not trust news organisations, and that is intrinsically linked to accuracy.

Fact verification and a willingness to correct mistakes were identifying displays of accuracy.

The Knight Foundation research is based on respondents selecting from over 30 factors for determining trust in organisations.