Dimensions of Difference Newsroom Guide

At Trusting News, building trust with news consumers is something we have been helping journalists with since 2016. While working with newsrooms to rebuild trust, we like to experiment with possible solutions. Usually, those involve actions journalists choose to take day to day. 

But, we are also curious about the systems and tools we use to do the work. This is where technology comes in. Sometimes journalists are willing to be more transparent about their work or are invested in building trust but can’t figure out how to work the strategies into their actual journalism. (Where does it go? What does it look like? How do we phrase it? How do we make it seem seamless without interrupting the flow of the story?)

As we’ve looked at successful (and sometimes unsuccessful) newsroom strategies and after reviewing feedback from our partner newsrooms, we wonder: How can technology and news products help journalists build trust?

We want to help newsrooms explore and answer this question while developing best practices for the industry to:

  •  adopt/create new technologies and tools to build trust
  • use technology and products to better engage with, listen to and reach communities
  • update newsroom systems to incorporate new tools and technologies
  • allow technology to increase efficiency and improve workflow so journalists have more time for transparency and listening/engagement work
  • be ethical and responsible leaders of using technology to share information
  • help communities understand and use technology while being seen as a trusted resource for information on the topic

We don’t have all the answers, but we see this work as essential to the future of building trust with news consumers. Technology is going to continue to evolve. We think journalists can be leaders in helping communities understand these changes while promoting and modeling ethical and responsible use of the technology to share needed and essential information with their communities.








How to use this guide

There are five sections in Dimensions. Each contains several exercises. Use them as outlined or adapt them in ways that make sense for your team. You can download the entire guide as a PDF here. 

Learning is a work in progress, so If you try something new or modify the materials in a way that is useful, please share it with us so we can share it with others.  

Our big aim

To support dialogue within newsrooms in service of journalism that reflects the complex communities we serve. 

Our key premise

We all come from somewhere: a family, a place, an era, a religion (or an absence of), a political ideology, a set of evolving values and ideas. Who we are informs our journalism — what we notice and where we have blind spots. Identifying and talking about our differences improves our coverage, our accuracy, our relevance, and our ability to serve the public. 

Our underlying thinking

The United States is a remarkable, complicated society in the throes of events both heartening and uplifting (deepening awareness of our diversity and our power-keeping structures, and energized efforts to repair and rebuild some of the systems we live by), as well as deeply distressing (the rise of authoritarianism, political upheaval, misinformation, hate speech, hate crime, etc.). 

Reckonings around race and gender in recent years have impacted our work as journalists, both at institutional and individual levels. We are part of an extraordinary growth process and, as with other growth processes, working through them can be challenging and disorienting. 

For journalists particularly, in our work as storytellers, with our keen focus on language and our very public work product, this moment is, perhaps, uniquely difficult. We all have our own experience and story, including region, religion, family structure, values, interests, etc. We can strengthen our journalism if we bring deeper humility, honesty and communication skills to discussions about our complex and multifaceted identities.

What this is not

Dimensions is not a DEI training. Our intention is to help people surface the many facets of difference that exist amongst journalists and to support the development of productive strategies for communicating about them as they relate to our assumptions, our biases and our coverage decisions.

How to use this, on your own or with your newsroom

We have seen the power of colleagues working through these activities as a team: sharing insights can lead to a deeper understanding of each other and the work you do together. You might choose to work through an entire section with your colleagues in person. You could also work through activities one at a time, on your own, and then use Slack, Teams, or another internal communication platform to share reflections and thoughts on each activity. We welcome your thoughts about the materials as well as suggestions about how to improve them