A Matter of Trust
A TAUT NEW BROADWAY PLAY, The Lifespan of a Fact, pits a writer, a magazine editor and a fact-checker (Harry Potter’s Daniel Radcliffe) in a three-way grapple over the nature of truth. Having played all three roles in real life, I found it exceptionally perceptive, and never more so than when the editor declared to her restive charges: “The entire enterprise comes down to trust.”
Indeed it does, especially given the current national climate. Americans have increasingly lost faith in their institutions, whether political or governmental, business or media, as those institutions have increasingly felt farther removed from them—a dynamic too many demagogues happily accelerate for their own ends.
That’s what made a study measuring trust in the media released in October very timely. In compiling its first ever News Media Trust Index, Simmons Research surveyed more than 2,000 American adults—a huge sampling for something like this. I was enormously proud to see Forbes land in the top five of all news sources—and first of any magazine or news operation focused primarily on free online journalism.
As the Broadway editor said, that’s the entire enterprise. Yes, we produce journalism. But without trust, all those words, photos, videos and live events are worthless.
We score well despite the fact that— or, I would argue, because—our journalism has a point of view. We encourage and even demand that our storytellers form an opinion, usually stemming from our belief in the power of entrepreneurs. But that opinion needs to be rooted in fairness, transparency—and facts. Every word and number in this magazine was fact-checked (after running voter registration and birth records, we even found two people who attempted to fudge their way onto the 30 Under 30 list).
One of my predecessors, Jim Michaels, used to call Forbes the “drama critics of business.” Great critics, whether Pauline Kael in movies or Jonathan Gold in food or Herbert Muschamp in architecture, prove neither crowd-pleasing nor impartial. But in valuing their audience—and their credibility—over their subjects, they are, above all, trusted.
We appreciate that faith. On behalf of our newsroom of 150 full-time journalists, 2,500 paid contributors and 43 editions around the globe, we pledge to do everything in our power to honor it.