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Can Publishers Use Metadata to Regain the Public’s Trust in Visual Journalism?

NYT Open – The News Provenance Project has been exploring how news organizations might contribute to the fight against misinformation by adding context…”We launched The News Provenance Project in mid-2019 to address the misinformation crisis through a product and reporting lens. Our goal was to contribute to the work of a growing number of organizations and projects addressing this issue. The initial idea was that publishers could contribute to creating a healthier information ecosystem by surfacing information they already have about the work that they publish. Our main hypothesis was that adding context to news photos — in the form of metadata, with information that is often contained in a caption, but gets stripped out as a photo travels beyond a news outlet’s own sites and apps — might help people make better decisions about the credibility of the images they see on social platforms and elsewhere around the internet.

Today we are publishing the results of the research we conducted, and a few examples of best practices for designs that help people better understand what they see. A key component in that research is a proof of concept, which we’re also making available today. The News Provenance Project team, working out of the New York Times R&D Lab, built it as an example of how our hypothesis might be realized, and we developed it in response to several rounds of user testing. We also explored the feasibility of publishing the data associated with each photo, from which that context is derived, on a blockchain (more on that below). As we develop plans to expand our work in 2020, we hope that sharing this research might also inspire others to build upon it…”

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