Here are some principles that form the foundation of our work at Trusting News — some basics we return to routinely, to ground ourselves in what we’re trying to accomplish.
As you look them over, we invite you to reflect on the relationship you hope to have with the people you aim to serve and think about what you could do to strengthen it.
If we have one piece of advice for every newsroom, it’s this: Spend time really exploring perceptions of your work.
We know there’s a partisan divide related to trust in news: people who lean right are much less likely to trust what journalists produce. You probably don’t need polling data to tell you that. A spin through comment sections and reporter inboxes can provide plenty of evidence.
Yet in service of democracy, a shared set of facts and healthy conversations (plus our financial sustainability), isn’t it vital that journalists be seen as credible storytellers, documenters and truth tellers across our polarized communities?
As we first told you a couple of months ago, the Trusting News team is committed to learning…
Only four in 10 Americans say they have a “great deal” or “fair amount” of trust in the news media. That’s according to Gallup, where they’ve been asking that question since 1972. Forty percent is bad, but it’s actually higher than it was in 2016, when the number was 32 percent.
You know what’s not better? The way those numbers shake out along political lines. There is a record 63-percentage-point gap in trust between Democrats and Republicans.
Only 10 percent of Republicans report generally trusting what they see in the news. Here’s Gallup’s breakdown over time.
Other data paint a…
The negative perceptions of journalism reflected in a new Pew Research Center report out this week can be frustrating to read about. Many journalists consider their work to be a public service and resent when it’s seen as irresponsible or unethical.
But remember that the attitudes reflected in the research are appropriate for some news media. Just as you are likely frustrated by some things done in the name of journalism, so is the public. Not everyone corrects errors, shows care for their sources, clearly labels opinion content and explains where their funding comes from. Right?
At Trusting News, our…
Let’s talk about what you know about how journalism is funded versus what the general public knows.
You’ve probably spent considerable time thinking about the tension between journalism’s public service mission and its need to bring in revenue (as a business protected by the Constitution). But a significant portion of your audience probably doesn’t understand — and has never even really dwelled on — how you make money.
Without the transactional nature of other industries (we give you a product…
Is it possible to overstate how much Americans need journalism right now?
We could have said that was true before the pandemic, of course. Just a month or two ago, our collective focus was on helping the country navigate an especially divisive, complicated election season. The pace and fervor with which journalists were working pre-pandemic seemed like it had grown steadily more intense since 2015.
That election hasn’t gone away. And at some point soon, we’ll need journalists to explain what the rest of the year will look like politically. If there were ever a time to be innovative with…
How can journalism be a catalyst for and host of community conversation? How can that conversation — happening entirely online these days — be a constructive, not destructive force? How do journalists know what their communities need from them — and what they really think of them?
If your news organization is providing something you know your audience wants, you should make sure they know that. Seems simple enough, right? If you want credit for providing a value or service, your audience first needs to be aware of it.
But some newsrooms really struggle to articulate a compelling message about what they offer. At Trusting News, we help journalists tell the story of their values, mission, ethics and processes in ways that highlight their credibility and build trust. We help them articulate their values and priorities.
If you’re working with the Solutions Journalism Network or otherwise reporting…
One thing journalists have gotten better about over the years is writing “behind the story” pieces for long projects.
In those columns, an editor typically explains why a story was done, demonstrates how much work it took, credits the staff and answers some anticipated reader questions. The columns, which have become fairly routine, are usually linked from somewhere on the project’s home page.
The problem: If you check the analytics, it’s very likely that only a small percentage of readers click through to those columns. …
When presented with typical news stories, what questions do readers have about how and why they were reported?
That’s what a recent study from the Center for Media Engagement set out to answer. In the study, funded by the American Press Institute (one of the hosts of Trusting News), participants in focus groups read three specific stories. They then shared what questions they had about the stories and what they wanted newsrooms to do a better job of explaining.
(This study built on Trusting News research with CME last year, which showed that the use of “Explain Your Process” boxes…