On 25 May, just as consumers of traditional-style media were getting accustomed to big/scary/enthusiastic AI headlines, Roula Khalaf, editor of the Financial Times, wrote her readership a letter setting out robust boundaries in the face of performative tech. “Quality means above all accuracy,” she wrote. “It also means fairness and transparency.”
Humans have been exploiting the worldwide web and its unruly offspring, social media, to pursue power or wealth by “sharing” misinformation, since at least the birth of YouTube and Facebook in 2005/2006.
Amid the online tumult, editorial-style sponsored content has the capacity to elevate brands and win trust because of the checks and balances associated with the integrity of responsible broadsheet journalism. Whatever their status or sector, any content creator can demonstrate legitimacy and authority by sticking to seven golden rules.
Recent research suggests that organisations must exemplify fairness and openness in order to win trust and loyalty. This goes for conduct and values, as well as the truth and decency of the work you are producing. Treat employees well, foster a culture of diversity and open exchange, and communicate your brand values clearly – all of this is foundational to creating authoritative content
Build good relationships with top writers, presenters and consultants who are across the latest developments in their fields. As well as contributing to insightful and original content, subject matter experts can be deployed at ideation stage, and to present workshops and talks for staff.
It may sound obvious but creating credible, engaging content without losing sight of how your client wants to be perceived is the gold standard. If you can agree on or convey the value of truthful, fair content when you initiate the creative process, you will create a space for effective collaboration.
The most interesting film-makers and writers leave cliché behind at an early stage of their careers by reading and rating, discussing and discarding cultural artefacts, greats and also-rans. Attend or read about IRL creative melting pots such as the Manchester International Festival or the FT Weekend Festival to get inspired and stay abreast of fresh ideas.
Data visualisation is a powerful tool for authoritative content-makers, combining substantiable facts and figures with the immediacy and interest of graphics and/or immersive formats. A good chart is the antithesis of waffle.
eg: sub-editing and design details. Perfectionism is never futile, because if your readers can’t trust you to attend to consistent punctuation or a dangling participle, why should they trust you to be accurate when it comes to projections about the economy or the events of a geopolitical conflict?
Finally, it is important to anticipate that high standards of openness and fairness are unlikely, in themselves, to win the hearts and minds of new generations of information seekers. The way we consume news is changing, and younger generations may evolve a careful culture of carrying out their own cross-checking and relying on circles of trust within larger networks in which content is shared, integrating due diligence processes into their everyday reading and watching. That’s what I hope, anyway.
In the mean time, let us continue to meet the high expectations of our audiences and clients by not only telling it like it is, but double checking we’ve told it like it is.
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