The Guardian tries to boost transparency and keep control of manufactured outrage

Charlie Spargo's picture
by Charlie Spargo

The Guardian has explained its efforts in "contextualising" journalism, adding date markers within articles and on social images to keep a lid on outrage from readers.

From yesterday (April 2nd), older articles on the Guardian website will have a clear mark as to how many years old they are - a feature that already exists but is being made more obvious still. And upon sharing, a clear marker as to the year of publication will appear over each accompanying photo that social platforms scrape from websites.

The decision was revealed in an article titled 'Why we're making the age of our journalism clearer at the Guardian', by Chris Moran, on their dedicated blog. He says, "Shorn of context like the date, accurate and responsible reporting can mislead."

The Guardian has been consistently aware of spikes in traffic to old articles, either through good faith sharing of sensational stories on anniversaries of their release, or used in more malicious ways by online users or groups trying to get a reaction.

The sharing of negative headlines or shocking stories long after they have actually occurred seems to have become common online, luring people into believing, say, that a General Election has been announced. An example cited by The Guardian in their article is about food standards in a supermarket. It's a simple way for less scrupulous online accounts to get engagement and responses.

"Trust is integral in responsible journalism and we take our responsibilities incredibly seriously," Moran writes in the article. "It’s not possible to control every action on every platform in the digital world but we believe these steps will make it increasingly difficult for bad actors to use our journalism to the wrong ends and will help everyday readers get clear context".