The Media Standards Trust is an independent registered charity which aims to foster high standards in news media on behalf of the public. We’re a ‘think-and-do-tank’, conducting research on important media issues but also running projects (such as building websites, running prizes and organising events) to promote quality, transparency and accountability in news. We are committed to the freedom of the press, and are not aligned with any political party or particular media company (though we work with a variety of news organisations and individual journalists and developers).
We believe high standards of news and information are critical to the health of our democratic society. These standards are being challenged by the enormous, revolutionary changes in the production, funding, packaging, delivery and consumption of news and information. Although the radical transformation of the news ecosystem threatens standards as never before, there is also a real opportunity for innovation in journalism.
The Trust was founded in 2006. The idea first came about in 2003, when Sir David Bell (then chairman of the Financial Times) led a discussion about the state of the news media at a conference with senior figures from the police, medicine, business, law, and the media. The discussion became heated: many of those outside the media felt it had become enormously powerful but remained predominantly opaque and unaccountable; those within the media felt those outside did not understand that news was going through a revolution, and that at the end of it all news organisations would have to be more transparent and accountable if they were to survive.
Since 2006, the MST has published two influential reports about the system of press self-regulation in the UK; developed www.journalisted.com to help the public navigate the news and journalists to manage an online CV; launched the Transparency Initiative, in conjunction with Sir Tim Berners Lee and the Web Science Trust, to make searching and assessing online news easier and more intelligent; partnered with Political Quarterly and the Orwell Trust in running the Orwell Prize, Britain’s most prestigious prize for political writing; and organised a series of events on why journalism matters, the future of news and other topics.