This evokes the initiative being led in Europe by the non-profit Media and Society Foundation, a body that is working to provide ISO certification to media organizations. One difference between that effort and Hamer’s is that the latter uses an ISO standard to certify participants. It also includes an element of auditing and oversight. Hamer’s plan is to enable the public to help provide oversight and confirm whether a seal member is living up to the TAO pledge or not.

“We want to have something on our site [inviting people to] report violations,” he said. “We want to crowdsource ethics well … my thought was, ‘Let’s invite the public—it’s a conversation today, after all.’”

Reports of violations could then lead to a review/hearing by a peer review group that would look at the reports of violations and determine whether the seal needs to be revoked. The reality is that many details have yet to be worked out—the idea took off faster than Hamer anticipated. Journalism.co.uk recently wrote about the initiative, and so did Martin Moore of the Media Standards Trust. The idea was also praised at a recent discussion, “Journalism Values and Vision: Leading in the Age of Digital Disruption,” at the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication. Tom Stites, founder and head of the award-winning Banyan Project, has already said he wants to be the first to sign up. (Hamer recently sent out a message on a journalism discussion group and offered that the first ten organizations to sign up can join for free.)

Support is one thing, but a workable seal program is another. Hamer is doing his best to push it forward and come up with a model that will be both effective and useful for organizations and the public, while also meeting the need to be financially self-supporting. Which is to say that for all of the thought, time, and effort that he’s invested in TAO, he’s trying to remain transparent, accountable, and open to the ideas and needs of others.

“I’m open to suggestions,” he said.

Correction of the Week

We incorrectly used the word “homocentric” when what we meant was “male-centred” (27 February, p 36). – New Scientist

Craig Silverman is the editor of RegretTheError.com and the author of Regret The Error: How Media Mistakes Pollute the Press and Imperil Free Speech. He is also the editorial director of OpenFile.ca and a columnist for the Toronto Star.