Belmont Club

All the news that's fit to print

Rupert Murdoch thinks the key to newspaper survival in the 21st century is the provision of “news you can trust”.

He said people now were “hungrier for information that ever before” and that papers have an edge over bloggers and other newcomers because they are more trusted by readers.

“Readers want what they’ve always wanted: a source they can trust,” Murdoch said. “That has always been the role of great newspapers in the past. And that role will make newspapers great in the future.” …

if papers provide readers with news they can trust, we’ ll see gains in circulation — on our Web pages, through our RSS feeds, in e-mails delivering customized news and advertising, to mobile phones,” Murdoch said. … Murdoch cited two of his most prestigious newspapers, The Times of London and The Wall Street Journal, as examples of how newspaper brands can win large online readerships.

Murdoch’s article raises the question of what exactly the phrase “news you can trust” means. There are several possibilities. One definition is news you can (to some extent) collaterally verify. The other definition is a news product which retrospectively holds up as being gathered in good faith. In other words, quality news will have many of the attributes of quality intelligence. But if so why do so many current newspapers — which are declining — fail the test?