What is the Media Standards Trust?
We’ve been called a ‘think-and-do-tank’, which isn’t a bad description (though it’s not a particularly elegant one either). We do some research, such as on press self-regulation and local news, but we also do web development work (Journalisted, the Transparency Initiative), run the Orwell Prize for political writing, and organise events and debates.
So you’re a think-tank?
Sort of – we do conduct research, but that’s only part of what we do. I suppose we’re a non-profit research and development organisation. We’re pretty pragmatic – we identify issues in news that are a threat to the public and then take a pragmatic approach to addressing them.
What are your aims?
In short, to foster high standards in news media, promoting quality, accountability and transparency. We reward quality through the Orwell Prize, hope to make journalism more accountable via Journalisted and our work on self-regulation, and encourage transparency through the Transparency Initiative. We also try to stimulate debate on media issues.
When, and why, were you set up?
In 2003, a discussion led by Sir David Bell (then chair of the Financial Times) led to a heated debate between those present – those from within the media thought those outside it didn’t understand the revolution they were going through and the struggle to survive, while those outside thought the media was opaque and unaccountable. The MST was founded in 2006 to try to bridge the gap and solve both problems, helping news to survive but working towards greater accountability and transparency.
Are you a campaigning organisation?
We campaign for higher standards in journalism and for the reform of press self-regulation.
Are you a lobbying organisation?
No, but we do seek to influence policy through our research and will try to talk to senior figures in politics, the media and civil society about our work.
What political party are you affiliated with?
We’re not affiliated with any political party – the Media Standards Trust is non-partisan. We want to encourage debate across and engage with all parts of the political spectrum.
What media organisations are you affiliated with?
None. We do work with a variety of media organisations on some of our initiatives, but we are completely independent.
Are you just UK or international?
We’re based in the UK and most of our projects are UK-centric, but some of our projects have taken off internationally (the hNews microformat which is a key part of the transparency initiative has been adopted by news outlets across the US) and some our funding comes from the US. Many of the problems faced by the UK media are the same problems experienced elsewhere.
How can the MST help me?
We can help you find out more about the journalists working in the UK press and the articles they write through Journalisted and help you search more intelligently for news through the transparency initiative (so we provide tools to help you). We can also help you find high quality political writing (books, journalism and blogs) through the Orwell Prize. Hopefully our research and campaigning will make the media more transparent and accountable, which will also benefit you.
What can I do for the MST?
I’m glad you asked. We welcome donations, but you can also support us by visiting our website, following us on Twitter, joining our Facebook group, coming to our events, commenting on our blogposts and otherwise helping to inspire debate on news matters.
How are you funded?
We’re funded by grants from charitable foundations and individuals – you can find a full list on our funding page.
How do I get in touch?
Visit our contact page for detailed information. 020 7848 7950 is our main office number.
How do I find out more about individual projects?
Visit our projects page, which has more information and links to the different parts of each individual project.