When the coronavirus pandemic first started to ramp up in Colorado, I remember reading this “Trust Tips” newsletter about COVID-19.

“Does your audience know about your goals for coverage of this huge, global story? … We want to help our audience make decisions. We want to inform people, not scare them. But have you said it outside the newsroom, to the people who matter most?”

It stopped me in my tracks. …

Most of us have heard the chorus. You know the one I’m talking about.

“How could this article be so biased?”

“How could they get x, y, and z so wrong?”

“Why are these reporters insisting on dividing us instead of bringing us together?”

“Clearly, these journalists are out to get (him, her, me).”

And while most journalists know and understand the ethics and process that go into reporting (and editing) a story, most outside the news industry do not.

If we don’t explain these processes, checks and balances, and ethical principles, why should we expect anyone to blindly trust…

Why do we do it?

Why do we work in a highly unstable career with no job security? Why do we cover stories so unimaginably terrible that sometimes all that’s left for us to do at the end of the day is cry? Why do we endure a high-pressure, fast-paced environment with little pay while at the same time dealing with a constant barrage of criticism from those we are trying to serve? (You’ve unfortunately probably heard some of this before: you’re a liberal rag; you’re in Politician X’s pocket; have you EVER even HEARD of a copy editor?)


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Most of the Coloradoan staff

At the Fort Collins Coloradoan, we’ve been a Trusting News partner for three years. Over the course of the project, we’ve focused on several strategies —from labeling our stories, to showing our personality, to explaining how we are different from “the media” as an overall entity.

The most rewarding aspect for me always is when we can put several of those strategies in action to combat a problem — and really make a difference.

In early July, we made a change with our paywall that many of us inside the newsroom felt was long overdue. Prior to the change, we…

Jennifer Hefty

Content strategist at the Fort Collins Coloradoan with the USA TODAY NETWORK.

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