Station WFAE hosted a public conversation ‘Unrest In The Queen City’ in 2017, a year after the police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott. Photo courtesy of WFAE.

Engagement has continued to become more of a priority in newsrooms over the last few years, and there are good reasons for that.

If you aren’t having conversations with your audience and responding to feedback, how are you making sure your journalism is focused on the people it aims to serve? And if you’re not talking to your audience, how are you understanding what gets in the way of trust with them?

The challenge with engagement is no longer convincing journalists of its importance, but rather figuring out what it should look like in each community and how journalists can…


The assault on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 was unfathomable. We want to say thank you to the journalists who quickly sprang into action to cover this historic event despite putting their lives in danger to do so.

While we don’t know what the next few days and weeks will entail, we know this is far from over. And as journalists, it’s an important moment for us to convey credibility.

While there are really no words to describe the feeling of seeing messages like “murder the media” scrawled on doors in our country’s Capitol building, it’s a reminder for…


The Trusting News team (myself, Joy Mayer and Lynn Walsh) has had a lot to say about the elections over the past few months. We’ve written newsletters, given presentations, conducted Election SOS trainings, launched a text-message course, worked with API’s Trusted Elections Network and generally looked for any avenue to be useful to journalists.

Yet we know our advice around transparency and engagement has not yet reached a lot of overwhelmed, dedicated journalists. This post aims to collect what we most hope to convey in one place.

Demonstrating credibility matters. There has been a lot of uncertainty and confusion around…


A line of people sit in Tucson, Arizona, during the first weekend of protests after the death of George Floyd. Mollie Muchna, a project assistant with Trusting News, also works as a digital engagement editor at the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson. Photo by Edward Celaya

Our country is in mourning. People are outraged. And we as journalists are doing our best to cover what is a complex and quickly evolving story.

It’s a sensitive space to navigate, is emotionally taxing to cover (especially for BIPOC journalists), and can physically put you in harm's way. Yet as journalists across the nation work overtime to bring the latest protest coverage, many people in our communities aren’t seeing the news we’re delivering as a public service. Instead, it’s likely you’re facing accusations of bias and hearing things like why are you covering only violent parts of the protest


Newsroom partner The Coloradoan used an editor’s note at the top of their Coronavirus coverage to remind readers of their mission of serving the community.

During the coronavirus outbreak, the Trusting News team has been heartened to see journalists rallying around their communities and producing incredible work. We’ve seen newsrooms discussing how best to serve their audience during a global pandemic. We’ve seen paywalls removed for the health of local communities. We’ve seen journalists working overtime to cover the rapid-fire updates.

But we’ve also been watching the public’s reaction. We’ve been tracking some common themes when it comes to complaints, frustrations and misunderstandings from our audiences about how we do what we do.

Maybe you’ve come across some of them in emails, phone calls and…


Mollie Muchna of the Trusting News team analyzed survey results for one of the project’s newsroom partners. She’s shown here working with participants at a workshop at The Poynter Institute in February 2020. Photo by: Sara O’Brien/The Poynter Institute

There’s a lot of public confusion around how we as journalists do our job. But the good news is there are people who are curious and want to know more about our process.

That’s what we saw after a Trusting News newsroom partner conducted a survey with their users. (Note: The newsroom wishes to remain anonymous but gave us permission to share what they learned.)

While the survey revealed public misunderstandings and frustrations with the paper, it also shed light on readers’ genuine curiosity about how the newsroom functions.

How the survey was conducted

The newsroom worked with Trusting News to craft questions about how…


Mollie Muchna, shown on the left emceeing a newsroom storytelling event in Tucson, Arizona, has joined Trusting News as project assistant.

Working in digital journalism for the past four years, I’ve often been on the front line of receiving feedback from the public. Unfortunately, that means I’ve weathered accusations of being biased, a liberal rag and “fake news” more times than I can count.

It’s exhausting, and it’s discouraging to witness this seemingly steady decline of the public’s trust in news. It’s even more frustrating when it feels like the public doesn’t see the value in the information and work we journalists provide.

But being on the front line, I’ve also seen how the majority of reader complaints stem from a…

Mollie Muchna

Digital engagement editor at Arizona Daily Star. Project assistant with TrustingNews.org.

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