Poynter.org has a good writeup of an idea that NYU journalism prof Jay Rosen has been batting around for a while, “Explain this.” The basic idea is that news consumers would pose a question to a twitter-like interface and journalists would provide a credibly researched answer. (A typical question would be “why do we subsidize corn production?” ) It’s an interesting idea that could boost interest in explanatory journalism.
It could, that is, if journalists are regarded as reliable truthbearers. There’s ample evidence that news consumers in the US and elsewhere don’t trust journalists. A March, 2009 survey found that only 3% of British respondents found journalists trustworthy. A September, 2009 survey by the Pew Research Center for People and the Press Found that Americans’ trust in the accuracy and fairness of the news media is at a 20-year low.