Graphic by Lev Krag for Canada's National Observer.

For Trust you need the Truth: National Observer gives you both

Dear reader,

Facts, knowledge and truth can mean the difference between life and death. I learned this first-hand during 9/11. Pregnant with my second child, I lived only 15 blocks from the scene of the disaster. And after that horrific day, I listened with an investigative reporter’s skepticism as authorities assured us that the air was safe to breathe, kids should go back to school and the rest of us back to work.

But the air wasn't safe to breathe. Scientific data eventually proved what many New Yorkers in the zone around Ground Zero were feeling, deep down, at the time.

Sound familiar?

Full disclosure: I’m going to ask you to subscribe three times in this email. But this is the only place I’m going to explain to you that we have to charge for our work, and yet we want to make it available to as many people as possible. And so we are offering it at a dirt cheap price for a limited time.

For the next four weeks, we’re opening the door as wide as it can go. Until June 22 only, you can subscribe and gain access for six months at the price YOU can pay (above $25.) If you’re not sure that paying for CNO’s journalism is worth even that, I’m going to try to change your mind. As CEO and editor-in-chief, it’s my job to keep our journalism funded, and that means convincing you how important you really are to us, and what a big difference you can make. So, if you’re open to that, please read on.

Then as now, the government wanted the economy to get rolling, so it painted rosy colours over a darker truth.Promised things that turned out not to be true.If only those who died later from 9/11-related illnesses such as cancers and respiratory diseases had not been fed a constant stream of disinformation.

And yet...almost twenty years later, here we are again, relying on governments to protect us and turning to them with an almost desperate hope that they will tell us the truth.

We need to know who to trust, especially in this confusing time when waves of disinformation just keep coming –– through our social media feeds and phones and the television networks owned by that ruthless billionaire who shamelessly parades dangerous propaganda as truth. (Rupert Murdoch, I’m talking about you.)

Readers around the world want to know the articles they read and share are accurate. But how?

That is why it matters so much that Canada’s National Observer has qualified to join The Trust Project.

The Trust Project is a consortium of news organizations including Frontline, the BBC, the Washington Post, the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail, CTV, The Economist and the South China Morning Post.

As our colleagues at the South China Morning Post recently wrote, “The Trust Project’s name speaks for itself. As a global network of world-class news outlets, we are all working towards the same goal to affirm and amplify journalism’s commitment to transparency, accuracy and inclusion.”

Led by Peabody Award-winning journalist Sally Lehrman, the Project helps the public distinguish between trustworthy news and false information (read more about this in her essay in The Atlantic).

This is all very difficult when the president of the United States is an active liar. A former reality TV show host who seems to live in a perpetual state of unreality, in a time of a pandemic, when we need facts and truth the very most. I said before that truth can be the difference between life and death. Never has there been a moment in my lifetime where this has been MORE true. That was the case during 9/11. And it is the case again, right now, in the middle of another crisis.

That is why I am asking you today to subscribe and support our work.

Canada’s National Observer’s journalists and staff make it their job every day to find and publish the truth. And when I say truth, I mean facts, data and material that comes from multiple verified sources, as well as corrections and updates where appropriate, all of which The Trust project requires its members to do. That means you can rely on us to bring you the facts, and if you find us falling short, just get in touch. We’ll be listening to our readers even more going forward.

After the information cataclysm of 2016, Google, Facebook and Bing started to reluctantly admit they needed some help. They began turning to the project’s “Trust Indicators” to verify the accuracy of journalism on their platforms. You will see these ‘Trust Indicators’ now in articles on Canada’s National Observer. Here is what a Trust Indicator looks like.

You'll be seeing this 'Trust Mark' around the site. It indicates our reporting is being produced according to Trust Project standards.

Qualifying for The Trust Project puts Canada’s National Observer in the top echelon of news organizations. We are called upon to continue to be transparent about our ethics, our funding and our mission. The process to become part of The Trust Project took us more than a year to complete. It involved many discussions with the Trust Project Staff, our team and other news organizations that were going through the review such as Frontline News and South China Morning Post. It led to website redesigns and to a more rigorous approach to the fact-checking of our articles.

This collaboration with so many of the world’s most reputable media companies means Canada’s National Observer continues to serve readers like you and to lead the digital reinvention of Canadian media. So, please, subscribe today, and rely on us for comprehensive and trustworthy journalism that drives the national conversation on energy and climate change.

Because, you know what?

Disinformation is the tool of choice for authoritarians. Authoritarianism relies on a simple, dramatic story. The truth will always be messier. To prevail, truth needs space and focused attention.

And this work, this war, needs skilled storytellers — thousands and thousands of trained journalists, who are experienced and thorough and compassionate — and it needs people like you, who will subscribe to and pay for real news.

Because knowledge is power and truth lights the way. We can’t do this without you. Thank you ahead of time.

Linda Solomon Wood