(Dan Schultz will be speaking at the Mobile First: Navigating multi-screen migration symposium at 1 p.m. on Mar. 31. Although registration is full, you can still sign up to watch the live stream.)  

I'm entering the third trimester of my fellowship at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute and for the past two months I have been trying my hardest to think like a journalist. BREAKING NEWS: I do not have what it takes to work behind a reporter's desk.  I would much rather just write about things that sound right than go "do research" and "back it up." 

I’m working on Truth Goggles because of people like me. 

So why pretend, you ask?  I'm playing make-believe because of two very specific goals for this semester.  The first was planned all along: to design an interface that allows journalists to contribute new information to the Truth Goggles database.

The second is more of an opportunistic surprise: I'm working with Esther Thorson, director of research at RJI, to find out if Truth Goggles can help readers better appreciate balanced journalism by curbing the infamous "Hostile Media Effect," (as explained here by 2011-2012 Reynolds Fellow Paul Bolls.) 

Designing the Truth Goggles interface

If there's one thing that almost every journalist wants, it's more busywork.  I know this because whenever I talk to a keeper-of-the-ink the story is the same:  "I have nothing to do!""This job is boring and easy.""Most days I just sleep in and watch Netflix." This is why a tool that requires a journalist to manually enter a bunch of content and data to power some random other thing will be such an easy sell!

Of course, I'm kidding. Journalists are people under tight deadlines who aren't going to just donate their time and attention to work with a clunky interface that provides them no obvious value.

I need to be very careful about how I design the Truth Goggles submission interface.  This is why as I build this I'm going out and getting feedback from journalists and editors in the real world. Right now my approach is to focus on making sure the interface isn't seen as a piece of charity, but is something that provides direct value to content creators.  I'm working on two distinct modes:

  • “Citation” allows you to submit the best parts of your work so that others will reference it across the Web.
  • “Augmentation” allows you to add a custom credibility layer on top of your article.

Both will, in theory, provide some direct value to the author, but I can't know for sure if that value is great enough.  This is why I'll be taking several trips to the Boston Globe to get direct feedback. If you're a reporter and interested in donating a few minutes to talk with me about the direction I'm taking here and what I need to change to make it a viable step in your own reporting process, please contact me!

Daniel Schultz  
Nonresidential fellow


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