Following Exit.al becoming the first media in the Western Balkans to complete a transparency and independence audit under the guidance of the Journalism Trust Initiative, it has also become the first to have the audit certified by Deloitte.
The Journalism Trust Initiative (JTI) is a standard for the trustworthiness of news and information. The JTI standard was designed and drafted by industry professionals representing major media outlets, professional organisations, and non-government organisations to promote journalism by adherence to an agreed set of transparency standards.
Deloitte has undertaken an objective assessment of Exit Media’s conformity with the JTI standard. The purpose of the services was to assist Exit Media in understanding the extent to which the media outlet aligns with the expected standards outlined in the European Committee for Standardization, JTI, CWA 17493, CEN Workshop Agreement 2019.
Deloitte was engaged in identifying any gaps that may require remediation by the media outlet to conform with the JTI standard.
“As a result of the assessment, we found that Exit Media conforms with the JTI standard, which is evidence of good practice concerning ensuring transparency through their controls and processes. The self-assessment was completed to a high standard and the direct involvement of the co-editor, Alice Taylor, ensured the efficient process of the services delivered” (Dale Sheppard, Director, Deloitte Media Assurance).
JTI “aims at a healthier information space” by developing indicators for the trustworthiness of journalism. It promotes and rewards compliance with professional norms, standards, and ethics. The initiative was launched with Reporters Without Borders but also had the support of the Ethical Journalism Network, UNESCO, and the European Commission. The project has also received support from Agence France Presse, European Broadcasting Union, and the Global Forum for Media Development.
Exit was handpicked to pilot the audit, answering questions on structure, ownership, finances, and professional standards. It also required a number of standards to be in places such as editorial guidelines, the publication of contact details and addresses, and policies to address independence, equality, and countering disinformation.
The process follows five fundamental principles:
- Accuracy and fact-based communication;
- Independence from political, corporate or other centres of power;
- Due impartiality in a systematic approach to reporting and editing;
- Fairness, respect and consideration of the impact of journalism on the lives of others;
- Transparency to facilitate accountability and responsibility to the public.
Exit will implement these principles through a code of conduct, internal and external policies, editorial guidelines, the guidance of an independent ombudsman, and ongoing training and reviews.
As a part of the process, Exit had to provide information, including funding sources, revenue, owners and employees, structure, compliance, and internal processes to the EJN. In addition to this, Exit published on its site details of journalists, owners, editorial guidelines, contact information, and policies relating to complaints and accuracy.
Furthermore, Exit has appointed an independent external ombudsperson to manage any complaints or issues. The Albanian Media Council (AMC) will deal with any matters escalated to them, and Exit has pledged to be bound by their decisions.
You can see the results of Exit’s audit here.
Adrian White, the former General Secretary of the International Federation of Journalists, a former journalist with The Guardian, and a long-time campaigner for journalist rights commented on the outcome of Exit’s participation.
“The Exit News commitment to ethics is a guarantee to the public about the quality of its journalism. In these difficult days, people are bombarded with information- much of it false, distorted, and even abusive. To combat these threats, news media must renew their commitment to truth-telling, transparency, and ethical reporting.
Exit News has done just that by setting a standard that all newspeople should follow, not just in Albania, but across the Western Balkans and the European Union.”
“Exit News has taken up the challenge, declaring “we have nothing to hide and are ready to speak the truth in the public interest. I congratulate them for their pioneering action to build public trust in media.”