That kind of overlay could add interesting context to the reporting we encounter online. But, at the risk of sounding like I’m trying to move people away from Still’s Stoll’s site, there is an opportunity for news organizations to build internal databases of this information and take a role in offering a new, meaningful level of disclosure and information about their journalists and the topics and people they cover.

If we could create standards for the structure of journalist attributes then the databases at different organizations could talk to each other and suddenly we have a very interesting and valuable database of journalists and their work. Of course, news organizations will differ in how much information they ask for and are willing to disclose.

Some outlets may feel comfortable listing phone numbers and e-mail addresses and the employment and education history of their journalists. Others may feel that’s too intrusive. Should they ask their journalists to disclose voting history if they cover politics? What about disclosures regarding any family relations that could crate conflicts of interest?

The possibilities for what could be built are intriguing, though not without challenges and questions. Stoll’s idea is a good one, as is Journalisted in the U.K. What I wonder is if we can move towards some generally agreed upon elements of disclosure that would see more consistency in terms of what news organizations share about their journalists? Can we create a structure for these attributes that enables them to be liberated from traditional bios and internal documents to live and useful and contextual?

The biggest question right now is: will news organizations that have made use of open data and voiced their support for the movement be willing to put their attributes where their mouths, and bylines, are?

Correction of the Week

CORRECTION - An earlier version of this story referred to Cain having a ‘cedar-quality’ mustache. The proper term is ‘theater-quality.’ — Politico

 

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.