Trusting News
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Trusting News

The Gazette in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is using buttons to directly ask for feedback on trust-building strategies.

How we’re measuring the success of Trusting News strategies

A quick recap of our project’s structure:

  • Our partner newsrooms selected two to five strategies (from among seven, which are described in these links) that were a good fit for their mission, goals and audience. They also selected which platforms, mediums or methods of communication they were willing to use to experiment. Anywhere journalists communicate with their audience, we want to inject trust-building messages. Newsletters? Social media? On air stories? In person? Those selections served as the basis for their newsroom’s plan.
  • Here’s a reminder of which newsrooms signed up for this round of testing. (They haven’t all been able to participate fully, but most have.) Here’s a look at the form we asked each newsroom to fill out, indicating their preferences and priorities.
  • Partner newsrooms agreed to four months of experiments. For each strategy they selected, they committed to testing it once a week, using at least one of their chosen communication methods. So they might test a way to demonstrate their balanced approach in a newsletter one week and with a different story on air the next week. They might showcase a specific journalists’ credibility during an in-person community presentation one week and in a comment thread the next week.
  • As they test, they keep a log. We ask them to describe and link to the experiment and tell us how users interacted with the content quantitatively (using traditional metrics), how users interacted qualitatively (the nature of their response) and what the journalists’ perceptions were about how it went. Here’s a sample log. You’ll note that this one is empty. We are not publishing each newsroom’s log because we want staffers to feel free to make candid observations about their audiences and about their internal conversations and priorities. We will, however, publish examples and select metrics from the newsrooms’ experiments when we share what we learned overall.

A few ideas that are easy to track:

This Facebook post produced thoughtful responses, not a single one of which was about national politics.
This newsletter message both explains why a reporter did a story and invites suggestions.

A few ideas that are harder to track:

The comments for this post focused on the content of the story not on perceived bias of the newspaper, thanks to the headline’s inclusion of the word “opinion.”

Our collection of data:



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Joy Mayer

Director of Trusting News. It’s up to journalists to demonstrate credibility and *earn* trust. Subscribe here: