Harnessing the Global Brains Trust
It increasingly feels like we’re living in a lawless "Wild West" of information.
The traditional purveyors of trusted information, primarily legacy print and broadcast media, have been severely disrupted by the rise of digital and social media players. Newsrooms have shrunk, and journalists are working harder than ever to produce vast volumes of 24/7 news content with diminishing resources.
Many high-quality outlets are resorting to paywalls to sustain their operations, restricting widespread public access to their meticulously researched, fact-based information.
In this disrupted landscape, fake news stories spread like wildfire, often proving difficult to extinguish.
The result? More and more, citizens and societies no longer know who, or what to trust. Or, as we’ve seen in America in recent years, they increasingly place their trust in leaders who are all too willing to play fast and loose with the truth.
Without effective, robust and timely measures to counter the rising threat that polluted information poses to our democratic institutions, we face chaos and societal breakdown - if not collapse.
The stakes are high, but these challenges are not insurmountable.
360info: A global resource of evidence-driven voices
We started with the idea that universities have a unique opportunity in the 21st century to reposition themselves at the heart of the rapidly evolving information ecosystem, by becoming a trusted supplier of high-quality, reliable and evidence-driven information to the public sphere.
That’s why I initially founded The Conversation, and why I launched the new public interest journalism initiative - 360info - in partnership with Monash University.
What’s the goal of 360info? To facilitate and amplify the reach and impact of research-led voices around the world, and in doing so displace the floods of mis-and-disinformation polluting our societies.
To do so, we operate as an open access wire service, what we like to call a "Research Reuters".
We leave breaking news and commentary/opinion to others, and instead focus on the massive global challenges that will make or break humanity’s future: climate, health, gender equality, food security, geopolitics etc. Our content is what might be called slow or deliberative news. We try to better understand problems by publishing Explainers and backgrounders (Context), and through our Solutions focus we try to see what’s going on “in the lab” at universities worldwide that seeks to address, mitigate, fix or solve our trickiest problems.
Then our team of professional editors across the Indo-Pacific region who work as one team commission those university researchers to write about their research and subject matter expertise.
Our approach sets aside the ‘national interest test’ that dominates traditional newsrooms. Instead we leverage a growing body of research from universities in 190 countries to provide diverse global perspectives. That way we hope to bring to the fore those voices outside the dominant narratives and worldviews of the ”rich media” headquartered in New York, London, and Paris. And bring in the thinking and research from Delhi, KL and Jakarta and Suva. And so on.
A resource for all
360info adopts an open-source approach to content distribution to help bolster the output of newsrooms everywhere, especially those that are under-resourced.
All our content is available without cost under Creative Commons License 4.0, allowing for remixing and adaptation by publishers and broadcasters. It’s all free of charge because we think it's important that all newsrooms have access to 360info’s content - not just those who can afford it.
In that way we hope to extend access to high-quality content to media outlets around the world, allowing them to expand their content offering and provide their audiences with trustworthy, verifiable content on issues they care about. And bridge the gap between the world’s well-informed and the under-informed.
In summary, 360info is our contribution towards helping displace those providers of poor and polluted information through the provision of high-quality, factually accurate content. And in that way we hope to improve the world’s information ecosystem.
A collaborative initiative
This type of public interest endeavour is only made possible through generous partnerships with like minded organisations around the world.
We’re deeply grateful that one such organisation, Medianet, has recognised the value in what we do, and is providing invaluable support.
About Andrew Jaspan:
Founder of global newswire 360info tells us what is driving misinformation and challenging the work of journalists, and why he founded 360info.