Trust, Truth and Transparency

“It was during a discussion about fake news that was also attended by two journalists of pretentious news bureaus. I was annoyed by their attitudes of inviolability, like they never made mistakes.” – Anne ter Braak, Samsung the Netherlands.

This is the explanation of Anne Ter Braak when she was asked ‘why in godsname she decided that her PR-bureau would start factchecking journalists?’. Ter Braak, Head of Communications of electro-giant Samsung, claims that the Dutch press constantly makes mistakes when it comes to representing Samsung in media. And she got tired of it. Fair?

In their article ‘The structural history and theory of innovation and entrepreneurialism in Journalism’, Prenger and Deuze describe how journalism has a surprisingly strong occupational value system, based on the cornerstones of truth, objectivity, ethics, public service, and autonomy (Deuze, Prenger 2016). Even though it has often been criticized for not being a true profession.

The trend of PR-bureaus now wanting to factcheck journalists, is a bold one. It’s not a coincidence that this statement was made by Ter Braak during a meeting about ‘fake news’. Her actions point to the development of fake news and the cry for transparency that comes out of it. This cry reveals an ideological shift within audience, to a state in which even traditional media isn’t automatically trusted.

Traditional newspapers are thinking of ways to be more innovative with their transparency.  But they don’t want to loose their their ‘occupational self-image’; a proper journalist answers to the values of ‘truth, objectivity, and so on’. But, as Deuze and Prenger state: “the interpretation of the occupational values changes over time, and is influenced by specific national (as well as organization-specific or even individual) journalistic culture”.  Fake news, PR-bureaus that want to factcheck journalists… will transparency become a new occupational value?

Liese Molenaar


Deuze, M. & Prenger, M. (2016): “The structural history and theory of innovation and entrepreneurialism in journalism”, forthcoming in Boczkowski, Pablo & Anderson, Chris, Remaking the News, Cambridge: MIT Press.

Krul, Raymond 6-05-2017:

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