By Nelson Graves

Here’s a video produced by students at Columbia Journalism School that focuses on News-Decoder’s mission and unusual strategy — to build trust without going viral.

Sonah Lee and Arijeta Lajka are master’s degree candidates who wanted to learn more about the News-Decoder project. I spoke to them during a recent visit to New York.

So what’s unusual about our mission? We’re trying to create a global community of young people who can exchange views in a forum characterized by trust and respect.

You don’t get much trust or respect nowadays on the Internet or by trying at all costs to maximize clicks. At News-Decoder, we value quality over quantity, insight over pretense.

Oh, it would be great to go viral. But I’m not pinning News-Decoder’s hopes on that quite yet. In the meantime, we are engaging with a growing number of young people who understand that our future depends on cooperation, understanding and dialog.

Challenging assumptions

In the video, I’m asked what young writers, who produce half of our articles, are learning through News-Decoder. They are learning to get out, to listen and to observe. I also hope they are pushing themselves to challenge their pre-conceived notions about the world.


No, News-Decoder is not having twins. (EPA/Justin Lane)

We all have pre-conceived notions, and now is a good time to set them gently aside. That holds true at the international level and, as we learned from the U.S. presidential election, within the United States as well.

Around the world, trust is in crisis. Take a look at the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer, an annual measure of citizens’ attitudes towards government, the media, non-governmental organizations and business. In its latest survey, trust in all four institutions declined last year.

“The majority of respondents now lack full belief that the overall system is working for them,” Edelman said.

To help build trust, News-Decoder has taken its first steps with this website and by working with our pilot academic institutions in nine countries to bring young people together around the world’s biggest challenges: human rights, democracy, the environment, economic equality.

We’re working to build our community, and I hope soon to announce a major step towards extending our international footprint. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, thank you for reading this and for your support.

Oh, and our funding campaign is still underway. No donation is too small! Your support will help News-Decoder succeed.

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