Did anyone pay me to write this?* What’s my relationship with sources mentioned below? Is this post a presentation of opinion? Is it backed by reporting? Some combination of both?
Do you care?
I don’t have any data to suggest you do or don’t, let alone anyone else. But I care, for your sake, my own sake and the sake of democracy.
To make informed judgments about the world, I think readers need access to as much context surrounding a piece of content as possible — including disclosures from the writer (whether it’s a simple blog post or an award-winning feature).
As a critically thinking reader, imagine me as a TSA worker who likes his job way too much. I want to screen your baggage, wave electrified wands in uncomfortable places and possibly direct you into a compromising body scanner. I do this so I can trust that you won’t sneak a figurative bomb into through my brain and into my social networks.
The reality of disclosure is kind of a bummer. Only two out of five science news stories, for example, say anything about the funding of reported research. Science writers disclose researchers’ financial ties to the work even less frequently, about 11 percent of the time. These are often the easiest facts of a story to write, yet omitting them may be erroding public trust in science and journalism**. And we haven’t even touched the writer’s baggage yet.