The importance of trust and relationships in news
ONA conference assignment: local news panel
When reporting news about the community, the stories are ultimately about the people. Therefore, it is important to build trust and lasting relationships, especially for local news.
There are many ways to form relationships with the community. Being curious is one way. Another way is to show up at community events to meet and build personal relationships with the people in the community.
In the ONA conference, the speakers talked about understanding the difference between community and audience. According to Manager for Public Engagement Ashley Alvarado, you have to cater to the community in order to grow the audience.
While talking about having relationships with the community, Poynter Institute reporter Kristen Hare talked about how we are not the gatekeepers anymore. People turn to the Internet instead of news in today’s age. This is key because keeping and showing one’s credibility to the community is very important.
The Internet allows readers to share stories of higher importance than ever before. In today’s society, we cannot dictate the news and have that control because the audience dictates what they are interested in. Engaging in relationships is important because it allows local organizations and media news to be on the same side.
Having a relationship with the community face-to-face is also crucial. The community is filled with curious people and stopping to listen to people can lead you to new story ideas. This is what the News and Advance reporter Emily Brown did when she reported for Nelson County.
According to Brown, Nelson County is a small town with one stoplight and squeezed between two other towns. However, Brown found that no matter how small a place is, stories are given to you all of the time.
In the ONA conference, they also discussed collaborative reporting and being in the community. Working in partnership with the people helps to learn more things about a topic that you did not already know. Putting the community at the heart of reporting builds trust and relationships.
“One thing that I’ve seen is incredible power in appetite that communities have to hear about stories in their community,” Google Product Manager James Morehead said. “I have seen that first hand by putting a small light on some stories.”
The reality is that many people want a voice in the community.
Building relationships with people who are higher up in the county is also important. According to Brown, attending meetings and proving yourself can help build those relationships.
One way that I have found that connects the community better with the newsroom is using Facebook live. This allows the reporter to personally share a live feed of either an important meeting or community event that is going on. It connects people in the community who cannot otherwise attend while also keeping them informed, which also builds credibility for the news organization.