After incorrect information was spreading in the community about how city officials were allegedly hiding Coronavirus numbers from the public, the Tennessean wrote a fact check countering the misinformation. The story addressed the misinformation and explained where the confusion was. By correcting the record the newsroom was able to demonstrate to their readers that they care about getting things right.
Colorado Public Radio wrote a column about how the newsroom planned to cover the 2020 election. The post starts off strong by addressing the perception that news has an institutional bias. “At CPR News, our mission is to serve all Coloradans, not a partisan sliver. As the election approaches, we wanted to explain more thoroughly what we’re doing to earn your trust every day.” It then lists the questions it will address and links to each, which accomplishes two things: It lets readers on the page skip to a section they’re interested in and it lets the staff use the links to answer specific questions as they come up in stories and social posts.
The News Tribune included an editor’s note at the top of their coverage that stated the newsroom’s mission with their elections content, where to see all the election content, and how to contact the newsroom. “The News Tribune reports on elections to equip community members with the tools they need to participate in democracy. That includes sharing candidates’ positions on important issues and making information about the voting process accessible,” the note reads.
The Austin Statesman included a statement about their commitment to diversity and included it on the newsroom’s “About Us” page. The statement read: “When reporting a story, we seek out diversity of opinion to tell that story more completely. When provided with information from one source, we consider who might think differently or have additional information that could reveal a clearer picture. We fact-check what people tell us.” This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
The Colorado Sun wrote a columnn about their newsroom’s approach to the 2020 elections, which included how they work to be fair, why they are trustworthy and how they decide what election news to cover — and not cover. “Our mission is to inform more than infuriate by telling stories that hold elected officials accountable and help readers better understand what’s happening within the state’s democratic institutions and political arena,” the column reads. “This particularly applies to our 2020 election coverage.” This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
After a controversial story about President Trump that cited an anonymous source published in The Atlantic, editor and chief of The Deseret Dave Wilks used the opportunity to write about the history of anonymous sources and explain The Deseret’s policy on the matter. Wilks wrote that at The Deseret, “a reporter must reveal his or her sources to an editor before we consider publication. I am involved as executive editor on key stories and revelations attributed to anonymous sources. Often our response to the reporter is, keep reporting. Find on-the-record sources.” This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
After WCPO decided not to disclose the identity of a student who hosted a party despite being diagnosed with COVID-19, the station’s content manager Ted Wilson wrote a column explaining their decision and the journalism ethics associated with it. “Often, the journalist’s job is not just to report the facts but also to balance the impact of their reporting among all the stakeholders in a story,” Wilson wrote. “In this case, WCPO 9 News chose to report what happened while trying to respect the privacy rights of the accused.”
After the police chief in Tulsa made accusations on Twitter that the media was “bored” after violence didn’t break out at a local protest, journalists in Tulsa responded by defending their work as journalists. “Bored? I slept less this weekend than most because I was engaged. I heard incredible stories. Saw amazing gestures. Watched people stand up for what they believe in. And I was thankful that no one was injured, including myself and my colleagues,” reporter Whitney Bryen, a reporter at Oklahoma Watch, Tweeted. “For the record, I do this very difficult job because of the injustices and violence that are perpetrated, to bring them to light and educate readers so they can act. I never wish for violence. That is the worst part of my job.” This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
As journalists, it’s not our job to protect the public from information that is hard to hear or might increase their stress. But it is worth considering whether our journalism contributes to or assuages their anxiety. We can choose to air a highlight reel of chaos, or we can choose to provide calm, measured context. As this year’s election unfolds, that means reminding the public what we expect to see, what is unusual, what safeguards are in place, how long it will likely take for votes to be counted and what they can do to protect their own vote and stay informed. A significant chunk of your audience is probably exhausted by news coverage. Back in February, a Pew Research Center survey showed that two-thirds of U.S. adults are worn out by the news. And it’s fair to say the volume of news hasn’t decreased this year! So, how can journalists respond to that mood in a way that respects the experience of consuming their product? In a crowded, exhausting information landscape, how can your journalism stand out as a responsible, important part of your audience’s information diet? More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here.
The San Antonia Report created a standing page on its website to explain the newsroom’s policy in regards to advertising and sponsored content. The page describes the difference between the two types of content and is clear in stating how each type of content will be labeled and appear on the website.
Staff at KBOO in Oregon redid their About page, which included the station’s mission statement, information about staff, how it operates, it’s journalistic values, and how audience members can share feedback. The station also included a specific section about the newsroom’s commitment to facts and unbiased election coverage. “During our election coverage we will be focusing on stories that provide you the facts and context you need to make informed decisions. We promise to focus on information that is helpful and not exaggerated, sensationalized or politicized,” the page reads.
After facing viewer questions about political ads, WCPO’s general manager Jeff Brogan wrote a column explaining how political advertising works for broadcasters. In the column he explains the FCC rules for political advertising and how the station is legally not allowed to edit or alter ads ads they recieve from candidates. “WCPO 9 and our parent company, E.W. Scripps, support the freedom of speech principles of the First Amendment, which emphasize a robust and open debate about the political process,” Brogan writes. “Although some of today’s political action committees might use aggressive tactics during the campaign season, their ads fall under free speech and have a right to be on a broadcast.”
During election season, people can be inundated with political advertisements — from candidates, parties, PAC’s and other groups. If you publish or air any of these ads (which most news organizations do) you probably have received complaints about them from your users. Some may be confused as to why this is showing up on your station. Others may be upset about the content inside the ads. And they might be jumping to incorrect or unfair conclusions about you. While some people may understand that your news organization is airing or publishing the ads just as you would with any other business (a car dealership or ice cream shop), too many people don’t actually understand how it works. They may have questions like: Why are you choosing to run ads from certain groups? Are the ads edited or changed before you air or publish them? Do you get the final say in what you publish/air? Is anyone fact-checking them? More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here.
During racial unrest in the country after George Floyd’s death, Crosscut recognized that the newsroom needed to also make adjustments to make sure their staff was accurately representing their community in their coverage. “The Crosscut newsroom is in the process of examining our own policies and practices, including the diversity of our newsroom, and we’re taking a hard look at how we’re applying these journalistic standards to make sure critical perspectives aren’t left out in our pursuit of the truth,” the article read. The newsroom went on to ask for the public’s help and input in keeping them accountable to make these changes: “We need your input because our mission is to earn and deepen trust, which is not the same thing as getting us all to agree. But if you find yourself unable to find credibility in what we say, we want to hear why and explore how we can do better.” This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
The Wirecutter at the New York Times wrote a column explaining the website had removed previous reporting with outdated information from the CDC about the need for wearing face masks in public during the coronavirus pandemic. “US officials recommend that you wear a mask to try to protect others—and possibly yourself—from the coronavirus. But that hasn’t always been their advice. Because of these changes, some of our reporting from earlier this year has become so outdated that we’ve unpublished it from our site,” the column read. “This is why we’ve taken down our outdated advice and replaced it with this: You should wear a mask to try to protect others—and possibly yourself—from the coronavirus.”
At Trusting News, we’re often asked by newsrooms how we know our strategies work. It’s an important question. We’re always happy to point to examples of what newsrooms say is effective but we’re also especially grateful when we have the chance to work with academic researchers. Through a series of focus groups, Trusting News and the Center for Media Engagement found that TV newsrooms can build trust with their audiences by explaining why a story is covered, providing additional resources at the end of stories and inviting audience participation. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here.
After receiving complaints and feedback that they were biased in their coverage, the Coloradoan’s content strategies Jennifer Hefty wrote a column explaining that yes, they were biased, but biased toward facts, public safety, and toward bettering the community. “In short, yes we have biases: Not of the political nature, but toward public safety and facts,” Hefty wrote in a Facebook post. Hefty’s column also went on to address questions and feedback about the newsroom’s coronavirus coverage, shedding light on their reporting process and the newsroom’s continued mission of fairness and accuracy. “Our newsroom has changed — from our physical location to how we stagger shifts to provide more coverage while working with reduced staffing. Our stories have changed — we shifted away from long-term plans to better cover the rapidly-developing pandemic,” Hefty wrote. “Two things that have not changed: Our ethical principles and our commitment to transparency with you, our readers.”
Community Impact Newspaper reporter Emma Freer wrote a column explaining to readers the paper’s coverage process when it comes to reporting on new businesses opening, closing and relocating in the community. The column explains the ways they find out about businesses opening or closing, how they confirm the information and what goes into publishing the story. Oftentimes, audiences also assume that money is involved in the coverage of local businesses. To level up, the organization could’ve also set the record straight by stating that money is not a factor when making these decisions. This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
At Trusting News, we think it’s vitally important that our industry understand people’s perceptions of journalism and the climate in which our work is consumed. Only when we do that can we proactively correct the narrative around our work. Thanks to researchers, we’re able to point to data, not just gut feelings, when we try to make sense of what people think of us and our work. We’ve pulled together a few key facts about how news is perceived. We hope this will be useful as you consider your election coverage. You can find more curated facts about trust in news in this slide deck. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here.

 

KING 5 anchors Joyce Taylor and Mark Wright showed incredible humanity, transparency and humility by having an honest conversation on air reflecting on lessons they had learned from their inter-racial friendship. “Joyce and I have sat next to each other for years, I can’t even count the number of discussions we’ve had about race and racism,” Wright said. “My eyes have been opened so much to what white privilege is. I’ve never had to have a discussion with my boys about what to do if the cops pull them over … Joyce, you’ve opened my eyes that this is life for people of color in our country,” Wright said. This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
During major news situations, like the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s easy for audiences to feel overwhelmed and then tune out. The LAist countered this by providing one spot with contextualized information and answers to basic questions about the pandemic all in one place, making it so users don’t have to sift through a bunch of different updates to find the most relevant and important information.
After facing accusations that a photojournalist altered a photo that showed a crowded bridge in Florida after the SpaceX launch during the coronavirus pandemic, Florida Today wrote a column explaining it wasn’t a fake or old image. In the column they gave details as to how the photographer captured the image, even mentioning that the kind of camera and lense used wouldn’t have compressed the image. “As journalists, we’re big believers in asking questions and seeking to verify information,” editor Mara Bellaby wrote. “But it’s one thing to inquire and quite another to declare ‘Fake News’ and ignore all evidence to the contrary. Evidence like people wearing masks in the photo, other cell phone images shared that showed a similar scene and, finally, common sense.”
In the midst of covering protests in Cincinnati, WCPO director Mike Canan wrote a column reminding their users of their journalist’s dedication to providing fair coverage for their community by discussing how they were putting themselves in the middle of it all — risking danger from protests and the police while also facing the danger of contracting COVID. “At the same time, the middle is where we have to be. We need to be out there reporting,” Canan wrote. “But we also need to be showing both sides. We need to accurately and fairly reflect what is happening in our community.”
News 5 Cleveland wrote a story explaining why they don’t report on police scanner traffic even though it’s technically public information. “We don’t report on scanner traffic because relying only on those initial reports increases the likelihood that the story will be incomplete, untrue or devoid of what is so essential in any breaking news story — context,” the station’s digital director Joe Donatelli wrote. “A resident, a dispatcher or a first responder arriving on scene does not have a complete view of what has occurred.” This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
Instead of leaving it up to their audience to guess why they sometimes don’t include police descriptions of suspects in breaking news stories, Digital Director of News 5 Cleveland Joe Donatelli wrote a column explaining the station’s process: “When a news organization offers only racial and gender identifiers as part of its news reports for years, or decades, what is the more likely outcome: that these extremely vague descriptions will better inform the public, or that we will be a party to unintentionally perpetuating stereotypes? In our judgment, sharing vague descriptions that are of little value repeatedly to a mass audience does more harm than good.” The station also has a link to their explainers that touch on newsroom process all in one place, which not only makes it easily accessible for users but also demonstrates to their audience they are willing to be transparent around their ethics, values and processes. This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
ProPublica wrote a thoughtful explanation of why they decided to publish a disturbing video of a suspect who died while in police custody. The explanation also addresses the ethics of publishing their investigation without family cooperation: “In the end, we have come down on the side of giving the fullest possible account of what our story terms “a recurrent tragedy — a person in mental crisis dying in law enforcement custody. This video could be traumatizing to those who see it. It depicts the harsh treatment of yet another person of color at the hands of law enforcement. Some have argued that the media should stop releasing video of law enforcement officials inflicting harm on black or brown bodies. While recognizing that viewpoint, we hope that the significance of this story outweighs the pain it causes.” The newsroom also prominently linked to the explanation on the story page so that anytime someone interacts with the story for the first time, they’re invited to learn more about the ethics and process behind it. This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
Josie Hollingsworth, the engagement editor for Politifact, created a video that explained to users how the organization decides what to fact-check. Hollingsworth said people frequently ask the Politifact team how they pick which claims to fact check, so now going forward, their team can quickly link to the video whenever the question comes up.
Indiana Daily Student Editor Tristan Jackson wrote a column sharing that the paper was no longer going to show photos that identified people involved in protests over the killing of George Floyd. Jackson said he recognized there was a growing concern over the well being of protesters, which is why the paper was breaking their normal policy and removed any already published photos that identified protesters. “How we as journalists cover these protests is an ongoing discussion, but right now as a human being I think we have an obligation to protect others from potential harm,” Jackson wrote. “Editorial judgment must be used in balancing this guideline with seek truth and report it, which is something I took into account in making this decision.” This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
During an on-air broadcast, WCPO News Director Mike Canan responded to a few complaints that said the station replayed the video footage of George Floyd’s being killed under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer too many times. “We generally avoid sharing the last moments of people’s lives. In the instance we would use it, it is to establish a key moment … You can make that point by sharing that video one time, not four times,” Canan said.
Journalists are human, which means we sometimes make mistakes. But it’s up to us to own up to those mistakes and ask the audience to help hold us accountable to doing better in the future. This is exactly what the Philadelphia inquirer did after they wrote a headline that suggested an equivalence between the loss of buildings and the lives of Black Americans. In a column addressing the issue, editors at the paper called the headline unacceptable and shared how the paper’s editing and headline writing process had been working, and how they were adjusting it in order to avoid similar situations in the future. “In addition to our readers and the Philadelphia community, we apologize to the many employees of the Philadelphia Inquirer, whose work selling advertising, printing the paper and developing Inquirer.com enables our journalism,” the editors wrote. “We hear you and will continue to listen as we work to improve.” This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
Have you explained how your organization’s ownership affects or doesn’t affect, the content you produce? The Weather Company did this by including a note at the bottom of their stories: “The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.” This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
The Guardian included a note at the bottom of its articles that directly asked for readers’ support. The note shared the organization’s goal to provide authoritative, fact-based information and reminded users of its mission to continue providing independent news. “We believe every one of us deserves equal access to quality, independent, trustworthy journalism. So, unlike many others, we made a different choice: to keep Guardian journalism open for all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay,” the ask reads. “This would not be possible without financial contributions from readers who now support our work from 180 countries around the world.” This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
While reporting on a controversial police killing of an unarmed black man, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution included a note explaining their approach to covering the story: “Given the intense public interest in the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks by Atlanta police officer Garrett Rolfe and how this incident may factor into policy changes and decisions on policing, the AJC has committed to providing the fullest, most complete coverage possible. That includes looking at the actions and backgrounds of both Rolfe and Brooks and how those may have shaped their encounter on Friday night … We will publish more information as soon as we can evaluate what is accurate and relevant, and give the material context, as is our usual practice.”
WJXT4 anchor Vic Micolucci used Facebook to explain the station’s approach to local coverage. In the post, he reminded users that he’s a part of the Jacksonville community, he’s committed to sharing the most accurate, up-to-date information and he doesn’t like to see the local community hurting. “I don’t hate police officers. Or protesters. I’m friends with people on both sides of the line. Every person is different. I don’t want small businesses to fail or people to lose their jobs. I don’t want people to get sick. I don’t want unrest,” Micolucci wrote. “I WANT to share good news. And I do. The 9am show I anchor has a lot of positive stories daily. However, as a journalist, I have to report on crisis, concerns and controversy. If I don’t, who will?” This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
Journalists like certainty. They like to ask questions and provide answers. But what should they do about the questions they can’t get answers to — either because the information isn’t available or because the questions are unanswerable? A common practice is to address what is known and leave out what is unknown. But that’s not always the best option when it comes to building trust. We know that when news consumers don’t understand the choices journalists make, the conclusions they reach are often not flattering ones. They’re not giving us the benefit of the doubt. Instead, they sometimes assume an agenda that involves highlighting some facts or story angles and purposefully suppressing others. Think about all the times you see comments like, “of course they won’t tell us that part of the story …” or “they must not want us to know …” By being upfront about things that aren’t yet known, journalists can remove some of that speculation and assure their audiences they’re continuing to ask the important questions. This is especially important when covering big, controversial stories — like elections, public health crises and protests. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here.

 

Station News Channel 5 showed incredible transparency by publically admitting when they showed bias in two similar Facebook posts. The discrepancy came while reporting on arrests of people who were charged with causing damage to the local courthouse: both men were felons, but in a Facebook post, the station referred to the white man by his name, whereas the station referred to the black as a convicted felon. When readers called out the station for what they perceived as implicit bias, instead of ignoring it, the station acknowledged the problem, changed the posts, restated diversity efforts and committed to doing better in the future.
To improve transparency with users, the Philadelphia Inquirer started a series in one of their local newsletters where they take users behind to scenes so they can learn more about the newsroom’s process. The topics ranged from how breaking news works to why they have an opinion section.
KPRC 2 in Houston noticed that they were receiving the same questions and criticisms from viewers whenever they ended a live stream of President Trump’s press conferences early. In response, news director Dave Strickland wrote a column explaining why the station hadn’t been airing the full live press conferences. “During the past of weeks or so, the president’s press conferences have moved away from emergency information. At that point, I have made the decision to leave the press conference and return to regular programming. I have made similar decisions during the county judge and Houston’s mayor’s news conferences as well as Governor Greg Abbott’s pressers,” Strickland wrote. “The bottom line is that KPRC Channel 2 will continue to air these press conferences during this national emergency. How long we stay with each of the individuals is determined by how much critical information is being delivered by the government during the news conferences.”
Whether it is poor word choice in a story, an accuracy issue or a spelling error, a mistake is every journalist’s nightmare. Why? Because we all work so hard to prevent them from happening in the first place. And sometimes “messing up” is less about a factual error and more about taking a hard look at what you did and realizing it could be better. Maybe a headline was accurate, but was it fair? Was it appropriate given the full context of a story? Sometimes those conversations around fairness and bias can be more difficult to address than an inaccuracy in a story. Your willingness to have these conversations and admit the mistake can be worthwhile though. How you fix the mistake — and your willingness to talk about the mistake with your users — can tell your community a lot about who your journalists are and what you value as a news organization. It can also be an opportunity to build trust. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here.
Personally, I’ve had a hard time articulating how I feel as I see the pain, anger, support and sadness pour from communities around the country. The news appears on my phone in a constant stream of push alerts. It’s also in my social media feeds as images, videos and raw emotional thoughts from friends and family — but also from a lot of people I do not know but feel I relate to, depending on the moment. I think it is important for us to remind ourselves: These feelings are normal. These feelings are shared. These feelings are human. As journalists, I think we sometimes forget that. We put those human feelings to the side as we do our jobs. As we report on what we see, we push back feelings so we do not let them impair our ability to fairly and accurately share what we are seeing. But, we have to remember that we are people. People with families and friends. We are people who worry about issues, the future, our communities and our safety. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here.
Station WEWS in Cleveland wrote a story directly addressing that misinformation was being spread on social media around how deaths related to COVID-19 were being reported. In the article, the newsroom tried to set the record straight by breaking down how reporters got information from the CDC and explaining how the county was tracking coronavirus cases and deaths. The station also reminded the public that neither health officials nor the media were trying to manipulate case numbers: “Despite what you may read in comments sections and on some questionably-sourced websites, health agencies are not conspiring to over-report or under-report COVID-19 deaths; their goal is to accurately report the disease’s impact on our communities.” This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
When station WLNS wrote a story about a suicide, which the organization normally doesn’t do, they included a disclaimer in the story text itself explaining why this case was an exception. “6 News does not normally report on suicides but given the rumors circulating about this incident, the Clinton County statement is being posted to avoid the spread of misinformation in our community,” the story read. This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
ProPublica sent out a newsletter to the people who have supported them financially that talked directly about political bias in news. The organization’s president Richard Tofel, who penned the newsletter, shared that yes, the newsroom has written more stories critical of President Trump than President Obama, and went on to explain in detail why that’s the case. Tofel also was very transparent about what ProPublica’s audience looked like (that it tends to be more liberal) and why they wish they had more conservative and non-white readers. “ProPublica would be more effective if our readership contained a proportion of people of color closer to the population of the country, and if it contained a similar proportion of self-identified conservatives,” Tofel wrote. This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
As journalists, we interact with a lot of people in our community. What if, after each of those interactions, the person walked away with something tangible that invited them to get to know the newsroom better? The Herald & Review did this by creating a handout about their newsroom titled “4 ways you can help the Herald & Review cover your community.” The handout was simple and easy to digest but included a lot of good information, including how users could share feedback, support the paper, join the conversation themselves, or meet the journalists in person. The bottom of the handout also included direct contact information for the editor in chief, along with a photo, helping make the journalists in the newsroom feel accessible and human.
When the heartbreaking photos of a young dad and his toddler who drowned trying to cross the border into the United States emerged, news organizations had to make the difficult decision of whether they would show the graphic photo alongside their reporting. When USA TODAY made the call that they would run the photo, standards editor Manny Garcia wrote a column explaining the reasoning behind the decision. “This is a story that must be told — fully and truthfully, with context and perspectives from all sides … Death is a constant along the border, but rarely is it captured in such a direct way,” Garcia wrote. It’s likely the column got much less traffic than the actual news story itself, leading to the assumption that a lot of readers didn’t see or know the level of thought the paper put behind this decision to run the graphic photo. To level up, we recommend including a sentence about their decision and linking to the column in the caption of the photo itself. That way the explanation would appear alongside the photo in every story it was attached to.
WCPO decided their newsroom would severely limit the number of crime mugshots it used on its website. Director Mike Canan wrote a column explaining the change, specifically addressing how mugshots often disproportionately represented people of color and people with mental health issues while rarely added to the value of the actual reporting. The station also explicitly listed its new protocol for how it would use mugshots, inviting its audience to hold them accountable to their own standards. “We think it is ethical and responsible without harming our commitment to accurate journalism,” Canan wrote.
VOX media included a note at the bottom of a story related to the coronavirus outbreak that talked about the organization’s values and then tied it to an ask for user’s support. “Our mission has never been more vital than it is in this moment: to empower you through understanding. Vox’s work is reaching more people than ever, but our distinctive brand of explanatory journalism takes resources — particularly during a pandemic and an economic downturn,” the editor’s note says. “Your financial contribution will not constitute a donation, but it will enable our staff to continue to offer free articles, videos, and podcasts at the quality and volume that this moment requires.” This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
The San Francisco Chronicle demonstrated transparency by explaining their reporting process for a story about the quick expansion of food delivery services in the city. The paper included the following statement in a box that was attached to the story: “Chronicle reporters interviewed six restaurant owners and four delivery drivers for this story, and contacted 19 restaurants to confirm that their listings on delivery apps were unauthorized. In addition, a Chronicle reporter ordered food from two restaurants listed on Grubhub without their permission to see how the delivery experience would work.”
Like many businesses, news organizations are struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Financial creativity and cutbacks might be required, and new revenue streams can help keep the lights on. But news organizations are in a situation that other businesses are not: While they might need and qualify for outside financial support, they are also expected to fairly cover the business impact of the virus. As a journalist in a newsroom, you likely don’t have control over whether your newsroom accepts a loan from the government or applies for grants from a foundation or company. What journalists CAN control (or at least advocate for) is being transparent about any funds received. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here. 
While other news sources were reporting the names of those who were violating Cincinnati’s stay-at-home violations, WPCO Senior Director Mike Canan took the opportunity to differentiate his newsroom’s approach from the competition. Instead of publishing specific names, Canan said he “challenged our team to do more. I wanted context on how law enforcement was making these decisions and what the data was showing. Ultimately, one person’s name is less important to the community as the pattern of behavior,” Canan wrote. “What we found is that mostly the people involved committed other crimes and police simply tacked the stay-at-home violation on.” Canan shared this information in a series of tweets while linking to the story.
As rumors swirled that local journalists had altered photos of beaches reopening in Florida during the coronavirus pandemic, reporter Vic Micolucci of WJXT4 in Jacksonville decided to address accusations directly in a Facebook post. Micolucci included several images and explained the differences between them based on angle, camera and lens choices. “Kindly lay off local journalists working hard to cover a situation. I can assure you almost all of us, my competitors included, have good, honest intentions of keeping you informed and safe, Micolucci wrote. “A helicopter shot looks different from a drone shot which looks different from a telephoto shot which looks different from a smart phone shot. The optics are different. The angles are different. As your car mirrors say, objects may appear further than they are. Use your best judgement.” This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
When accusations of local journalists altering a photo at a rally were being widely spread on Facebook, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote a story that gave a step-by-step look at their reporting process and what actually happened. The story explains how the rumors started, why they gained traction and ends with a plea to the public to help the paper correct misinformation if readers see the rumors on social media. “It is unethical and a violation of Journal Sentinel policy to alter, manipulate or change a news photograph in any way beyond basic toning for reproduction,” the story states. “The Journal Sentinel asks people of goodwill to share the truth about this photo if they see false accusations being shared by friends on their Facebook feeds or other social networks.”
Newsrooms hear a lot of accusations that they use photos and videos to misrepresent or even manipulate reality. We’ve heard from journalists lately wondering whether it’s best to ignore or respond to accusations of “fake news” and photo or video manipulation. We’ve also seen confusion and misassumptions in our own social networks and in comments on news stories when it comes to telling what’s real. Here’s what we at Trusting News want newsrooms to remember in those situations: It’s fair for news consumers to be skeptical. They shouldn’t automatically believe what they see, and it’s genuinely tricky to know which news brands are trustworthy. (Some aren’t.) No one but you is going to explain what makes your own work credible. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here.
The San Fransisco Chronicle used a story about a lawsuit against the city to explain more of its reporting process to their readers. The paper included a box in the story that gave readers insight into how the reporting was done, including information on how many people the reporter interviewed and reminding users about the extent of the paper’s past coverage on the topic. “Reporter Carolyn Said has interviewed more than two dozen taxi drivers over the past few years about their industry’s implosion since the advent of Uber and Lyft and their struggles to pay their medallion loans. She has written several articles about this issue, also including perspectives from the Municipal Transportation Agency and the city’s taxi companies,” the box read. “Last week she met with two attorneys for the San Francisco Federal Credit Union who provided hundreds of pages of court filings from both the credit union and the city, flagging several items that they viewed as ‘smoking guns.'”
Saphara Harrell at the Salem Reporter wrote a first-person column about how she covered a shooting inside an Oregon Goodwill. In the column, she pulls back the curtain on her reporting by taking readers through her step-by-step process, including explaining coverage conversations she had with her editor, which public records she obtained and how she verified information from sources. This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
After receiving some negative feedback about a story covering a controversial political meme, PA Post editor Russ Walker directly addressed the community concerns in a column. In the post, Walker reminded users of the newsroom’s mission and commitment to providing balanced election coverage of both parties while also explaining why the paper decided to cover this story in the first place. “The staff at PA Post knows we are heading into a contentious election year. While our focus is on covering policy and how government actions affect Pennsylvania citizens, we’ll also be watching the messages and campaign tactics of both parties. How campaigns are waged can tell us — the voters — a lot about how a candidate or party will govern,” Walker wrote. This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
After hearing allegations and rumors in the community questioning the organization’s quality of work, the publisher of Levittown Now, Tom Sofield, took to Facebook Live to shed some light on the newsroom’s reporting process. Sofield said there was misinformation spreading around the community surrounding a recently published story about the threat of lawsuits in a local school district, and he wanted to set the record straight. In the Facebook Live, he explained how the paper reported the story, including how they fact-checked the story and what public documents they used. This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
When The Oklahoman published an investigation into the lack of regulations of midwives in the state, the paper included a video Q&A with the reporter and a written column that expanded on the paper’s reporting process. The column addressed questions such as why the paper looked into this topic in the first place, how the reporters obtained public records, and why they did not name of some families involved in the lawsuit, even though it was public information. “As investigative journalists, our job is to tell in-depth stories that make communities safer, healthier and more knowledgeable. When we invest many months in stories like this, it’s because we uncover information that we think the public needs to know and can’t find anywhere else,” the column read. This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
The Globe and Mail added expandable, in-article explainers on their website to provide more information and context about their reporting process within the stories themselves. “The transparency aspect of the feature sheds light on newsroom conversations happening at the Globe around what the reporting standards and guidelines are,” an article sharing the changes said. This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
When the student newspaper The Echo was writing about possible Title IX violations at its school, the paper included an editor’s note at the bottom of the story to let readers know about possible conflicts of interest. “It should be noted that because of Cal Lutheran’s small enrollment, some of our editors have personal connections with individuals mentioned in this article; however, involvement with reporting for anyone with a prior relationship was minimized. This article was reviewed by two media law experts including Sharon Docter, a professor of communication at Cal Lutheran.” This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
The Pinckneyville Press used a story about the state of local media to remind their community how the newsroom needed their support. The paper shared the story on it’s Facebook page with a personal plea: “No one will fight harder for your right to know what is going on in your city, county, court and schools than our team. In the past ten years, we have exposed over a million dollars of questionable government spending, malfeasance or outright theft,” the Facebook post reads. “We need your help to continue our mission.” This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
When quoting an anonymous source in an article about the spread of COVID-19 at a local nursing home, the San Fransisco Chroncile included a box that explained what an anonymous source is and the newsroom’s policies for using them. “The Chronicle strives to attribute all information we report to credible, reliable, identifiable sources. Presenting information from an anonymous source occurs extremely rarely, and only when that information is considered crucially important and all other on-the-record options have been exhausted,” the box read. “In such cases, The Chronicle has complete knowledge of the unnamed person’s identity and of how that person is in position to know the information.”
In a story about presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar, the San Fransisco Chroncicle inserted language in the story to tell readers how and why they were covering Democratic presidential candidates, and how the paper was striving to provide equal coverage. “The Chronicle is examining how California would look if the major Democratic presidential candidates were elected and could implement their top policy priorities,” the box read. “Candidates’ positions are taken from their websites, their campaign comments, and in some cases legislation they have sponsored in office.”
In partnership with the Solutions Journalism Network, the Atlantic-Journal constitution shifted the focus of its editorial pages to be more solutions-based during the coronavirus outbreak. Managing editor Mark Waligore explained the change in a column, saying that with politics becoming more polarized, the paper wanted to shift its focus on solving community problems during the pandemic. “Given all that has happened, we believe the changes we’ve made to the Opinion pages are the right approach at the right time,” Waligore wrote. “We hope they can serve as a gathering spot, of sorts. A place to share your personal stories. A place to swap ideas and look for answers. A place that brings us together, rather than divides us.”
After facing accusations that a photojournalist altered a photo that showed a closed beach packed with people during the coronavirus pandemic, the Caller-Times wrote a column exculpating the photo. “We often face criticism and recognize people are entitled to opinions about what and how we cover the news. It comes with the territory. It also doesn’t change the facts. That’s why we typically let it roll on by and focus on what’s important: informing our community,” editor Mary Ann Cavazos Beckett wrote. “But when several people continued to spread false information about how and when the beach photo was taken it became concerning.” Beckett also explained and linked to the paper’s ethics policy and mission statement, reminding their audience of the paper’s commitment to accuracy and the community.
After getting questions and complaints from readers, WEWS used clear language to explain to viewers why the numbers of people who recover from COVID-19 aren’t shared alongside the death counts in Ohio. Digital producer Ian Cross wrote a column to explain: “So to answer the question: There is no conspiracy by the media to suppress good news about the coronavirus, as some have suggested. It’s a simple matter of available data.” This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
Reporter Caitlin Dewey Rainwater at the Buffalo News used her one-year anniversary of working at the paper to show the breadth of the journalism she had produced at the paper so far. She did this through publishing a thread on Twitter highlighting seven stories she had written that she was especially proud of. This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
WTXL decided to stop publishing mugshots in the majority of its crime stories. The station’s general manager Matt Brown wrote in a column explaining that the decision was out of a commitment to “tell stories that go beyond the irrelevant and isolated stories on the crime beat, and instead focus on stories that give you a true sense of your community through context, perspective and impact. We will still cover significant and impactful crimes in your community. We will still publish stories with mugshots of persons wanted or arrested for noteworthy or impactful crimes in your community.” Brown ended the column by stating he hoped the change would be a positive one for the community and offered a place for users to offer their feedback about the decision. This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
NPR published its ethics handbook and made it searchable so people could easily find information about the organization’s policies and practices. The handbook goes over topics ranging from how NPR decides when to use anonymous sources to how the newsroom strives to represent diverse people and perspectives. The policies are written in clear, straightforward language so it is easy for anyone — especially people outside of journalism — to understand. This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
NPR created an internal checklist for its journalists to ensure their reporting is as accurate as possible. The checklist is a list of items reporters and producers should double-check before handing the story off to an editor, such as name spellings, dates, and titles. A training document publically published online also included clear information as to how NPR journalists should alert an editor when a correction needed to be made. “The checklist that follows is a reminder of things we all know we should do,” former Standards & Practices editor Mark Memmott wrote. “We know we will make mistakes. But we all need to do what we can to reduce them.” This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
The editor of the Globe and Mail, Sylvia Stead, wrote a column explaining the paper’s policy for using anonymous sources. The column included a list of recent stories where their journalists used anonymous sources, why they felt it was necessary to include unnamed sources, and also linked to their code of conduct. “These days when some are quick to blame the messenger and cry ‘fake’ when it’s something they don’t like, it is incumbent on the media to use anonymous sources with care and to be as open as possible about that person’s background and expertise,” Stead wrote. “As the code says, the point of anonymous sources is to ‘get the fullest story possible, not to let people dodge accountability or take anonymous potshots.’” This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do. 
The Herald and Review used a Twitter thread to highlight some of their best journalism, showing their audience the variety and depth of their journalism. This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
The Globe and Mail posted its Editorial Code of Conduct on its website, letting its audience know about their newsroom’s mission and goals. The code of conduct included information on many different aspects of the newsroom’s standards, including its policy for deleting comments and how their journalists fact-checked stories. “The Globe and Mail’s long-standing tradition of journalistic integrity and credibility
 is essential to its reputation as Canada’s most trusted news source,” the code of conduct reads. “This reputation 
is rooted in the conduct of the editorial staff. Unless all employees strive for the highest standards of journalistic integrity, we cannot hope to sustain the trust we have inspired in our readers for generations.” This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
Student reporters at Cronkite News gave their audience a behind-the-scenes look at their reporting process while covering a teacher strike in Arizona through a video series called “Full Circle.” In the video, they showed their reporting process, from how they decided which shots they tried while out in the field to their editorial meeting where they discussed coverage and the paper’s story selection process. “Our goal is to be transparent in our planning and reporting the news of the day. So we are taking you from pitch to prime time and even inside our post newscast meeting,” the video states. “We’ll document the work of our reporters, editors and producers as we prepare stories for our Arizona PBS audience.” This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
Buzzfeed used an editor’s note at the top of their stories related to the coronavirus pandemic to remind their readers of their mission of providing trustworthy news. They also used the opportunity to ask users for their audience’s financial support. “The journalists at BuzzFeed News are proud to bring you trustworthy and relevant reporting about the coronavirus,” the note read. “To help keep this news free, become a member and sign up for our newsletter.” This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.

 

Several things are true at this strange moment. Our lives feel upside down. People are worried about their health and have a heightened desire to stay informed. The economy is in turmoil. Journalists are stressed and pressed for time (or furloughed or laid off). The financial part of the news business is in a weakened state just when people need journalism most. All of this happening in an information landscape that is complicated and full of pitfalls for both news consumers and journalists. People are skeptical of journalism — sometimes for fair reasons and sometimes based on misassumptions and ignorance about how journalism operates. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here.
A month ago, the 2020 election season was consuming national and local news coverage. And now? While the campaigns are continuing and the election is just a little over six months away, the arrival of COVID-19 in the United States has changed that focus. These days, everyone is just trying to survive. They are depending on their local news organizations to help them navigate the uncertainty they see all around them. People want questions answered about their very livelihood. They are losing their jobs and want to know where to go for help with car and rent payments, unemployment and groceries. And journalists (like you) are stepping up. You’re providing them the information they need, and you’re doing it while your own lives have also been turned upside down. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here.
WCPO launched a new series called Act of Kindness to highlight positive things happening in Cincinnati during the coronavirus outbreak. “When I am out speaking in the community, I tell people every corner of our community is neither all bad or all good. Our job as journalists is to paint that picture accurately,” news director Mike Canon wrote when speaking to the station’s breadth of coverage. “That remains true when it comes to the impact of COVID-19. There’s a lot of darkness out there. But there are also everyday people doing heroic things to help their neighbors. We have a responsibility to tell you those stories — in addition to the stories about the virus’s impact.” By highlighting the positive stories they cover, it helps the station remind their audience that they do more than just report on negative news.
Tell your audience directly that your news outlet doesn’t celebrate covering big crises like the COVID-19 outbreak. Editor of the Arizona Daily Star, Jill Jordan Spitz, did this through a column where she reminded their audience that the journalists were dedicated to covering the coronavirus outbreak because of their commitment to serving the city. “No, we are not loving this,” Spitz writes. “But covering events that hurt our community does not make us happy — and contrary to what some people seem to believe, it does not make us money.” The column went onto explain how the virus spread has affected the paper’s bottom line and contrary to some public belief, was actually decreasing funding for the paper.
The editor at the Coloradoan Eric Larsen wrote a column directly talking to readers about how the newsroom is responding to coronavirus — and how much they need their community’s support. “Like you, we’re weary from the myriad changes the last two weeks have brought. But our dedication to serve Fort Collins and our surrounding communities is steadfast. We will not waver,” Larsen wrote. “…here’s a quick look at the steps we’re taking to ensure Fort Collins and Northern Colorado stay informed and healthy amid the coronavirus pandemic.”
The Virginian-Pilot and Daily Press started a series called The Helper where they highlight people and groups who are stepping up to help others during the coronavirus outbreak. By reporting on positive news that uplifts the community, it shows the organization’s breadth of work, as well as their commitment to their community.
In light of the coronavirus pandemic, The Tennessean’s opinion editor David Plazas started a video series to continue bringing interviews and insights from experts to the public. Their goal is to interview some of the people who write guest opinion stories for them on a weekly basis. “As an opinion and engagement editor, I typically am out and about in the community, attending events and meetings, and moderating debates and discussions. Self-quarantining in the age of the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak has made that impossible for the time being. That is why on Tuesday we launched the new Tennessee Voices videocast,” the story reads. “Our opinion team continues to publish guest columns daily by thoughtful innovators, creators and leaders in the community to keep readers connected.”
At the bottom of a story related to the coronavirus pandemic, The Guardian included an editor’s note about how they are covering the virus outbreak. In the note, they explained their mission and commitment to factual, accurate reporting. “We have upheld our editorial independence in the face of the disintegration of traditional media – with social platforms giving rise to misinformation, the seemingly unstoppable rise of big tech and independent voices being squashed by commercial ownership,” the note read. “Our journalism is free from commercial and political bias – never influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This makes us different. It means we can challenge the powerful without fear and give a voice to those less heard.” This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
The editor of the Bozeman Chronicle Nick Ehli wrote a column explaining how economic changes during the coronavirus outbreak were impacting the paper’s bottom line. He explained in a transparent and straightforward tone that the paper had lost a significant amount of advertising money and how that was affecting the hours his reporters were able to work. “…out parent company, the Adams Publishing Group, this week ordered a top-to-bottom partial furlough for all of its employees. This means that — for the time being — our journalists will be working fewer hours than they were before. I’d like to tell you that you won’t notice any changes, that we will be able to cover our community with the same vigor you’ve hopefully come to expect, but that simply wouldn’t be true,” Ehli wrote. “Reporters and photographers working 30 hours a week instead of 40 will produce less content. There is no way around that fact.” This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
The Bangor Daily News in Maine used an editors note in a newsletter to share their reporting goals and mission during the coronavirus pandemic. The newsroom reminded the public that they didn’t want to cause panic, but instead, wanted to “gather facts, dispel myths and address your information needs,” the note read. “We will clearly detail what is known and not known about the virus, the illness it causes, and risks to Mainers. We seek answers to the questions that only a local news source can ask.” This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
The Columbus Dispatch shared their mission and dedication to accurate, fair reporting by adding an editor’s note at the top of their coverage related to the COVID-19 outbreak. “With our coronavirus coverage, our goal is not to alarm you but to give you the information you need. We want to keep things in context in order to help you make decisions,” the note read. “You can find all of our stories here. These are being provided for free as a public service to our readers during the coronavirus outbreak. Please support local journalism by subscribing…” This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
WPCO in Cincinnati included an editor’s note at the top of their Coronavirus coverage that shared their mission and goals for reporting on this pandemic with their audience. “With our coronavirus coverage, our goal is not to alarm you but to equip you with the information you need,” the note read. “We will try to keep things in context and focus on helping you make decisions. See a list of resources and frequently asked questions at the end of this story.”
Editor of the San Francisco Chronicle Audrey Cooper wrote a column telling their audience that while their journalists and entire news operation were working remotely, they were still just as committed to providing accurate, timely news to the community. “It’s critical that we be there to make sure that you have the information you need to make decisions about what’s right for your family and for your community, ” Cooper wrote. “Whether we are recording podcasts from under a sound-dulling blanket fort (yes, I did that), conducting interviews in a child’s closet among stuffed animals (as reporter Matthias Gafni did), or updating the live updates story while batting away a persistent cat (thanks, Lauren Hernández), we will do everything we can to ensure we provide you with the news now and well after the crisis is over.”
The Christian Science Monitor reminded their audience of their mission during the coronavirus outbreak by asking for feedback in a simple Tweet that read: “The Christian Science Monitor is committed to covering the coronavirus pandemic. How are we doing? What coverage do you need right now? Let us know.”
WCPO in Cinncinati wrote a column explaining how they were adjusting their programming so their journalists could practice safe social distancing. The column made clear how it would affect the work of their employees and the programming the audience would see. “Some of these changes might impact the quality of our newscasts or online news sources. They might not look as polished as they normally do, and we would always rather interview people in person,” the column read. “But we are willing to make these sacrifices because we feel strongly that we need to do our part to prevent the spread of the virus and to keep our employees healthy.”
WMAR-2 News in Baltimore wrote a story explaining how their programming would change to keep their newsroom and journalists safe during the COVID-19 outbreak. The station ended the column by asking for questions and news tips from the audience, saying: “We can’t do this without you. Please tell us what is going on in your community.” This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
WEWS in Cleveland posted a column sharing why the station was focusing so much of its coverage on the coronavirus spread and addressed accusations from readers that they were stoking panic and fear in the community. “Balancing our coronavirus coverage in a way that attempts to reflect reality is something we’ve been discussing over here a lot. We’re quite aware that there’s a way to report this story that makes it sound like the world is coming to an end,” Digital Director Joe Donatelli wrote. “Our focus right now is on reporting the overall impact, government management and the human element of this public health threat in a manner that raises public awareness.” The post also discussed how social media algorithms can impact the type of news content you see in your social feeds. This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.

 

As the coronavirus outbreak spread and the number of news updates increased, the Coloradoan reminded their audience of their mission to keep the public informed. They did this by putting an editor’s note at the top of their coverage: “As the coronavirus outbreak continues to evolve, we don’t want you to panic. In fact, quite the opposite, ” the note read. “That’s why the Coloradoan is committed to providing you with accurate, up-to-date information so you can make informed decisions on issues affecting you and the people you love.” The editor’s note also let readers know they were providing all content related to the coronavirus for free as a community service, but they also directly asked readers to support their important work by subscribing to the paper.
The Corpus Christi (Texas) Caller-Times wrote an article explaining who they are, why they do what they do, and what the newsroom’s decision-making process is. The article included information like the newsroom’s mission, how the newsroom decides what to cover, how they use content from wire services, its process for handling corrections, as well as how the public can submit news tips. By putting all the information into one place they’ll be able to easily share the link when questions come up in the future.
Man, there are a lot of coronavirus updates flying around these days. There’s so much to know and understand, and there’s sure not a shortage of news stories. But we know that access to more stories doesn’t always make people feel more informed. Often, it’s the opposite. You might be in a newsroom that sees its mission as sharing every new fact and every new angle in real time. Perhaps that’s why people turn to you in the first place. But for some of you — especially in local news — it’s worth stepping back and thinking about what role you play. In a crowded news ecosystem full of constant, repetitive, overwhelming updates, what do you offer? Some newsrooms are having conversations about focusing on the larger context, and on information that helps people make decisions about their own lives. If you’re in one of them, congratulations! It sounds like the mission of your coverage is clear. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here.
Do you know what questions your audience has about your news organization? We bet if you looked at your comments, listened to user voicemails, or read through emails, you’d see a lot of confusion and misunderstanding about how you do what you do. Even if your audience is made up of super savvy news consumers, chances are they don’t always understand why you talked to one source and not another, why you follow up on some stories but not others, and even more basic … if you care about things like fairness and accuracy. We as journalists often forget that our processes are invisible to our audience unless we make them public. We say this often at Trusting News, but in the absence of explanations, our audiences typically make negative assumptions about our motives and processes. We saw this after a Trusting News partner organization recently conducted an audience survey. While the survey responses (from thousands of readers) revealed public misunderstandings and frustrations with the paper, they also shed light on how readers were genuinely curious about how the newsroom functions. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here.
You most likely already have newsroom policies. You probably reviewed them during one of your first days on the job. Maybe you still refer to them while writing or editing a story or responding to a user complaint. Newsroom policies often cover things like: Corrections and accuracy Financial independence Political independence Commitment to diversity Unnamed sources Photo and video editing and ethics Conflicts of interest It’s important to have your policies clear internally. But, what if you also talked publicly about your ethics? What if you also explained when stories are corrected, how a user can tell if a story has been corrected, and how they can submit their own corrections? More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here
Telling your users how long you have been reporting on what’s happening in your community can be powerful. It can also help lend credibility to your organization. When talking about your history, be sure to focus on the impact you have had in the community instead of big-name hires or printing press changes. Consider writing about the big stories you’ve seen the community through. Include old pictures of the newsroom, your building, your front pages or your newscasts. Think about including information like coverage area expansions or changes, the addition of new beats or the development of a podcast, video show, etc. Be sure to include any ownership changes, community event sponsorships and awards too. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here
What is your news organization’s mission? What communities do you cover, and how long have you been in business? What do you value, and what are your standards? Who works in your newsroom, and how are they reachable? How do you make money? These are all basic questions people might have about your news organization, but could they easily find the answers on your website, in your paper or on your social media profiles? At Trusting News we find that a lot of newsrooms have information answering these questions somewhere, but it’s not always easy to find and it’s almost always written using journalism jargon. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here
Last week, we talked about how it is important to respond to claims of “fake news.” This week, we’re taking a broader look at how journalists can respond to attacks on their credibility. That’s the topic of a recent report from the American Press Institute. (Disclosure: Trusting News is a project of API and the Reynolds Journalism Institute). The API report highlights how attacks on the media are felt in newsrooms, both at the national and local level. Most of you know all of this firsthand and likely can picture conversations in which you could have used more strategic responses. The report highlights the experiences and advice of editors like Joel Christopher. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here
When a reporter at the Burlington Free Press used an unnamed source in a story, an editor at the paper, April McCullum, wrote a column explaining the paper’s policy and why they OK’d the use of the unnamed source. McCullum listed the factors that went into the decision-making process and linked to the paper’s ethics policy. “This is not something we do lightly, ” she wrote. “After much discussion inside the newsroom, we decided that the value to the reader of this family’s perspective warranted agreeing to their request.”
Posting your organization’s guiding principles in a prominent place is a good way to share your mission with your audience. Entercom did this by publicly posting the organization’s core principles on their website’s “About Us” page. “We are a mission-driven company. We care. A lot. We care about our communities, our listeners, our customers, our brands, our partners, our company, our work, and our teammates,” they wrote. This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
To be more transparent about where opinion content comes from and who’s writing it, the editorial board at the Corpus Christi (Texas) Caller-Times put an editor’s note at the top of an opinion piece noting that the state representative was invited to write the piece, and explained why. “We invited Rep. Jeff Leach, author of Proposition 4, to write this column in response to a column by the Center for Public Policy Priorities. The CPPP, which also wrote at our invitation, opposes the proposition, as do we,” the board wrote.
It’s common these days for journalists to write a “behind the story” piece to accompany long projects. In these stories, an editor typically explains why a story was done, demonstrates how much work it took to produce, credits the staff and answers some anticipated reader questions. Those pieces are usually on a separate page from the main story and often only the most dedicated readers will click through. At Trusting News, we’re firm believers in taking advantage of attention where we already have it: in the story itself. In the spot in the story where you say a source wasn’t available for comment, you could explain how you tried to reach the person. When you introduce an expert source, you could include information about their independence and reliability. When part of a story led you to consult a conflict of interest policy, describe the situation and link to the policy. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here.
When faced with a big story, journalists know how to mobilize. We quickly identify angles, send staffers to key locations and set up a system for producing and editing content back in the newsroom. Do most news consumers understand what a commitment of resources that is? Of course not — any more than most of us understand everything that happens at an MLB ballpark on opening day, behind the scenes at a church on Christmas Eve or with a construction crew building a housing development. Unless you’ve been through it, you just can’t picture it. What if offering a window into the complexity of your work could help lend credibility and inspire an appreciation for the efforts? More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here.
During breaking news about a school shooting, staff at KPCC/LAist showed the breadth of their coverage by including a “How we’re reporting on this box” at the end of the story, explaining which journalists reported each aspect of the story. This also helps build credibility with your audience by introducing individual reporters. This newsroom is a Trusting News partner but this work was done independently from Trusting News.
Does your community know your organization is invested in its future and well-being? The Tennessean showed their newsroom’s commitment to its community by hosting an event where local residents gathered to think about inequities facing Nashville’s public schools and brainstorm possible solutions. After the event, opinion editor David Plazas wrote a story highlighting key findings from the event and thanked readers for their time and participation. “On behalf of The Tennessean, I am so grateful for the community’s interest and participation,” Plazas wrote.
The Gazette shared its policy for removing content from its website. “There are many reasons we write stories about public safety and arrests. While details of many of the stories are gleaned from publicly available records, the passage of time changes how newsworthy the story is,” the policy states. “Using the criteria below, The Gazette will consider requests for removal of non-felony and non-violent criminal offenses. Other cases will be handled on an individual basis.” Publicly sharing your organization’s processes and guidelines show transparency and allows the public to hold your organization accountable.
Annenberg Media is continuing its video series “Full Disclosure” on TikTok. The series explains newsroom processes, like why reporters don’t use the Oxford comma or use hyphens when identifying people’s origins. These videos help give the audience insight into the newsroom’s decision-making process while also showing the reporters’ personalities.
When USC Annenberg wrote a story that included information from an official on background, instead of leaving it to the audience to assume what that meant, the reporters explained the term clearly in the story itself. “A USC official told Annenberg Media on background that Harrington had thought about stepping down for a long time and that her decision was not related to the college admissions bribery scandal. On background means that we cannot disclose our source,” the story reads.
KPRC 2 shared the station’s guidelines on how they cover crime. By publishing these standards the station is able to link to this when future questions arise and can update it if their policy changes. “We want you to know that often the details of the story and crime dictate how we might approach covering an incident, so our approach may not always be the same in each case,” the guidelines read.
Something that gets us VERY excited at Trusting News is when a newsroom is willing to use its newsletter to build trust. That’s partly because newsletters often use an informal tone and voice that are ideal for talking directly to readers about how and why the news is produced. But it’s also because of how simple it is to test two versions of something and see how audiences behave. Simple is a welcome change because measuring opinions about a news product is hard, and so is isolating trust factors when news has so many variables. We get pretty creative about how we gauge success, and we rely a lot on our partner newsrooms to tell us what they observe about their audience’s responses to trust-building efforts. (We’re also grateful when we can partner with academic researchers.) More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here
Does your community know your organization’s mission? KPCC/LAist’s Editor Megan Garvey wrote a column explaining the station’s dedication to public service and explicitly shared the topics and questions each reporter was committed to covering. “We know we have to earn and keep your trust by delivering fair and accurate reporting. We know we need to make important stories interesting,” Garvey wrote. “And we also know we need to be more transparent in our process and better explain how we report stories.”
Asking for feedback can be a great way to let your audience know you’re working to provide them with the best information. During Hurricane Dorian, reporter Eve Samples with the USA TODAY Network sent out a weather newsletter to readers in nine markets in the southeast region. She included a survey in each newsletter and ended up receiving hundreds of positive responses from readers. Some of the feedback included: “What I am seeing here is very helpful” and “I feel a part of this community and your newspaper keeps me well informed. Thank you.” At the top of the next weather article, she reiterated the journalist’s commitment to the community and followed up by thanking readers for their feedback and comments. USA TODAY is a Trusting News partner but this work was done independently from Trusting News.
When covering a story about a local student who died by suicide, The State included a “Behind Our Reporting” box that shared their approach and guidelines to reporting on suicides. The box read, “Discussion of suicide can be difficult, especially for people who may already be thinking of harming themselves. As a general practice, The State does not report on suicides unless they involve prominent individuals or occur in public places. In the case of this story, we felt the incident warranted fact-based reporting accessible to members of our community.”
When you ask someone about the news, their mind might go directly to politics, crime or breaking news coverage. But we know we offer a lot more than that. It’s important we remind our audiences of this. Why? If people only think of polarizing or sensational topics when they think of your news coverage, it’s going to be more difficult to build trust with them. We need to remind them about the range of news we cover, especially the content that helps improve their lives or make informed decisions. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here
In an effort to start regaining trust with readers, the Corpus Christi Caller-Times started better labeling different types of content, including its opinion and watchdog stories. In this story, the staff defined what watchdog journalism is, along with the newsroom’s mission and motivation behind its coverage. “That’s what we do as journalists,” they wrote. “We alert you to something you may not know, but should know, for your own good.”
Grady Newsource publicly posted it’s guiding principles on their “About Us” page, including its mission, reporting process and newsroom standards. The principles state in clear language how the paper handles corrections, verifies facts and explains it’s protocol when covering sensitive situations, like sexual assault accusations and suicide. “Our mission is to serve the residents of Northeast Georgia by informing them in a way that helps them make decisions about and understand their lives and communities,” they wrote. The news team also admits that defining “what is news,” can be difficult but they try to be consistent and pick stories based on their mission and principles.
Staff at The Day used strong language on their subscription page to explain who they are and what they stood for. They reminded readers that their journalists live, shop and play in the same community. They also shared some basic information about the paper’s funding.
What do you say when someone calls the newsroom asking you to remove a story from your website? Do you have a consistent way to handle the situation — both in what you say and in whether you honor the request? We talk a lot about transparency at Trusting News. Often, the first step to transparency is determining whether you’re ready to shine a light on your practices. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here
At Trusting News we’ve talked a lot about how important labeling opinion content is. We hope you agree with us, and we’ll keep talking about it. But truly transparent practices around opinion pieces need to go further than labeling. What if you told your audience whose opinion is being shared? Or why this person’s opinion is being shared? More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here
There are sadly a lot of ways for journalists to think they’re explaining themselves while still actually being quite obtuse. We tend to use coded language that doesn’t mean much to our audiences. One of those ways is with disclosure statements when explaining potential conflicts of interest. We often acknowledge the issue without explaining what it really means or how we’re working to make sure it doesn’t affect the integrity of our work. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here
Creating change is hard. Some people embrace it with open arms, but for others it’s scary, difficult and unwanted. A lack of buy-in or support from colleagues is something most (all?) of our newsroom partners have encountered when trying to implement Trusting News strategies into their workflow. But journalism is a team sport, and we rely on cooperation and collaboration to get the job done. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here
Finding phone numbers and email addresses for journalists can be really frustrating. It’s almost as if we don’t want to be found. I had an experience last week that I hate to imagine your audience having. I wanted to email a journalist, so I went to his news organization’s website to find contact information. The Contact Us page had only a general form, with options to have your message go to different departments (circulation, obituaries, etc.). No names. No direct info. So I played detective and guessed what it might be (first initial, last name, url, perhaps?), then googled that potential email address. Voila! Your community members probably don’t know how to do that, and they shouldn’t have to. In this scenario, they would most likely just give up, and they would leave with the sense that you don’t actually want to hear from them. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here
Journalists serve as a community’s watchdogs. That idea is a core part of what we value and what we strive for. But does your community understand what that means? They may understand the basic concept: watch out for wrongdoing and call it out when we see it. But do they know how that’s different than “gotcha” reporting? And do we sometimes hide behind being watchdogs while actually just reporting on “gotcha” moments? More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here.

 

No journalist I’ve ever met is unbothered by inaccuracy. Depending on the type, errors can make us nauseous, embarrassed, angry or many other strong negative feelings. Sometimes, mistakes are a matter of carelessness, and sometimes they result from a reasonable process that somehow let us down. Either way, standard practice is to correct our errors publicly and move on as quickly as possible. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here

 

Isn’t it frustrating to watch news outlets get something dead wrong that you worked hard to get right? It’s important that we correct misinformation, especially on topics we have expertise in. It’s something we can do without spitefulness, and often without even naming the journalists who are at fault. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here
Lately, I’ve been talking to some newsrooms about creating ethics landing pages for their websites. What is an ethics landing page? It’s a place where a news organization discusses it’s ethics policies and how it makes news decisions. These pages may look different newsroom to newsroom, but the reason they exist is to provide a one-stop-shop for users to understand why one story is covered and another isn’t, how fact-checking works, why one image is included in a story over another, etc. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here
Journalists often face tough decisions when it comes to whether and how to publish disturbing images. They carefully weigh their responsibility to accurately and compellingly reflect a harsh reality while also avoiding exploitation and respecting the preferences and privacy of both their audience members and the subjects of the images. As Kelly McBride wrote for Poynter last week, it’s not up to newsrooms to shield their communities from hard truths, but they can minimize harm by treating the situation carefully. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here
I wrote a few weeks ago about the importance of earning trust face to face — how looking into another person’s eyes is more likely to create an authentic connection than an online or phone interaction. I also pointed you to new Pew data, which shows that only 21 percent of Americans have ever spoken with a journalist. (And those interactions are more likely to have happened with younger, less affluent, less educated, non-white people.) More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here
Newsrooms get a lot of complaints about covering too much “bad news.” Too much conflict, violence, argument and devastation. In short, too many problems. Some of that comes with the territory, of course. Shining a light on a community’s challenges is a key function of journalism. But often, we try to aggressively report not just on problems but also on the people and projects working to solve them. We highlight what’s working, not just what’s broken. And when we do that, we need to clearly point it out. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here
Breaking news is a term that elicits varied feelings for journalists. It seems to always be a hectic time, with people and information moving at lightning speeds. It’s also when news organizations have an opportunity to fulfill one of their top duties: providing accurate information to the public. While a lot of us thrive and feel an adrenaline rush during breaking news situations, it’s also a time when most mistakes happen. And our audiences notice. To read more from this edition click here and you can sign up for the weekly “Trust Tips” newsletter by clicking here.
Whether it’s the TV affiliation your station has or your corporate owner based on the other side of the country, talking about and being transparent about who owns your news organization can be an important part of earning the trust of your users. For many reporters and possibly even editors, the impact of who owns the paper, website, or TV or radio station may not be felt on a daily basis. But do you tell your users that? To read more from this edition click here and you can sign up for the weekly “Trust Tips” newsletter by clicking here.
A core principle of our work is to make our ethics policies more accessible. Policies should be posted on news websites — that’s an important first step. But how many people will find them and read them? We should also look for every opportunity to show how they inform our daily decision making. Annenberg Media’s ethics page allows staff to link to an individual policy, and this example shows how they can do that from a specific part of a story.
In response to comments from Dana Loesch, a spokesperson for the National Rifle Association, who said: “Many in legacy media love mass shootings.” The USA TODAY Network reporters and editors recounted what it’s actually like to cover mass shootings and other tragedies in a column.
As part of its Solutions Journalism Network work, The Hechinger Report experimented with ways to demonstrate that reporting on solutions matches the organization’s values. Here is one newsletter A/B test. The staff wrote two different invitations for readers to consume a story about how well education is preparing students for a changing labor force. Half the audience got this example, which included a paragraph focusing on the solutions frame. The click-through rate on this version was 15% higher than on a traditional version.
In this post, The Hechinger Report demonstrates that it understands its audience well enough to know what it wants. Readers have a desire to read stories that make them feel good about the world, and this story (done through the Solutions Journalism Network) meets that need.
News consumers are hungry for stories that emphasize what’s going well in the world, not just those that point out problems. As part of the Solutions Journalism Network, Alaska Public Media is explicitly telling their audience when a story focuses on solutions. This tweet focuses on the contrast between examining problems and solutions.
News consumers are hungry for stories that emphasize what’s going well in the world, not just those that point out problems. As part of the Solutions Journalism Network, Alaska Public Media is explicitly telling their audience when a story focuses on solutions. In this example, an italicized note at the top of a story explains what that means and links back to more stories about solutions, along with a feedback form.
When faced with suicide, journalists have decisions to make — about whether to publish, but also about things like whether to use names and photos, what details to include and what words to use. Those decisions often take into account whether the death was in their own community or happened elsewhere, whether it happened publicly or privately, and whether the person involved was a public or private figure. It’s important not to forget, however, that newsroom decisions and policies are largely invisible to audiences. To read more from this edition click here and you can sign up for the weekly “Trust Tips” newsletter by clicking here.
You’ve probably heard it by now: The public doesn’t know what “anonymous source” means. I experienced this firsthand while talking to a group of video game journalists several years ago. Their assumption was that when a journalist quotes someone anonymously, the journalist doesn’t know the identity of the person and has never talked to the person. I explained that in most cases the journalist knows the source’s identity, and their editor likely does as well. After explaining this, it felt like everyone had lightbulbs going off inside their heads. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here.
Picture the process of how your newsroom decides which stories to cover. Which meetings? Which crimes? Which festivals? Which games? If we’re honest, a lot of those decisions happen intuitively. We have conventions we follow about what’s newsworthy and what’s not. We have big-picture fairness we’re trying to achieve when it comes to who and what gets attention. We know what stories we did last year and try not to repeat them. This is from our “Trust Tips” weekly newsletter. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here.
Trust Tips 1: Ask how you could better earn trust
When was the last time you told your community that you value their trust? How often do you ask them how you could do better? In text? On air? On social media? In a newsletter? Acknowledging that you know some of them don’t trust you is powerful, as is asking for feedback. News consumers aren’t usually shy about telling us how we could do better, but asking for input directly (rather than just waiting to see what comments people leave on stories) can help get a constructive conversation going. This is from our “Trust Tips” weekly newsletter. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here.
Virginian-Pilot
When encouraging engagement and response to comments on your website or on social media platforms, it’s important to make sure your newsroom is equipped to jump in and help. The Virginian-Pilot created a guide for their reporters and editors to help them better respond to user comments and increase engagement.
Annenberg Media updated their "about" section on their YouTube channel
Annenberg Media updated their “about” section on their YouTube channel to explain a new series they were launching called “Full Disclosure.” They told users, “We want you to trust us. We’re pulling back the curtain on the decisions that go into reporting and publishing stories at Annenberg Media…” The description provides clarity for the user while the newsroom capitalizes on a simple branding opportunity offered by the social platform.
Annenberg Media updated their "about" section on their YouTube channel
Annenberg Media updated their “about” section on their YouTube channel to explain a new series they were launching called “Full Disclosure.” They told users, “We want you to trust us. We’re pulling back the curtain on the decisions that go into reporting and publishing stories at Annenberg Media…” The description provides clarity for the user while the newsroom capitalizes on a simple branding opportunity offered by the social platform.
More than 60 students, teachers and chaperones visited the newsroom of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
More than 60 students, teachers, and chaperones visited the newsroom of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. It was the first time the newsroom had opened its doors to the public since 2014. During the two and a half hour visit, students helped choose the story for the top of the home page, met photographers, reporters, and editors, and had an opportunity to try their hand at weather and traffic in front of the green screen. The feedback from the visit was overwhelmingly positive and the newsroom shared photos and videos from the event on their Facebook page.
WUSA took time to highlight their coverage of stop and frisk laws in Washington, D.C. in their on-air broadcast. In highlighting their work, they also asked people to contact them if they have been stopped and frisked and then reminded their users: "our reporting is only as strong as the community we're honored to serve."
WUSA took time to highlight their coverage of stop and frisk laws in Washington, D.C. in their on-air broadcast. In highlighting their work, they also asked people to contact them if they have been stopped and frisked and then reminded their users: “our reporting is only as strong as the community we’re honored to serve.”
When you bring news to people using many platforms, a best practice is to also share how users can contact you on all of those platforms. In a simple but effective move, WUSA created a full-screen TV graphic that tells users how they can contact the news organization. The graphic airs after every story in their "Verify" franchise. This has resulted in the newsroom receiving an additional 10-15 story ideas each day.
When you bring news to people using many platforms, a best practice is to also share how users can contact you on all of those platforms. In a simple but effective move, WUSA created a full-screen TV graphic that tells users how they can contact the news organization. The graphic airs after every story in their “Verify” franchise. This has resulted in the newsroom receiving an additional 10-15 story ideas each day.
Many news organizations host booths at festivals, but the Fort Worth Star-Telegram staff went a step further.
Many news organizations host booths at festivals, but the Fort Worth Star-Telegram staff went a step further. On top of showing up at a popular community event and interacting with the public, they decided to also help register people to vote. By being present in the community they allowed people to see them as real people and get to know them better. When people meet journalists and get to know them it can help build trust for the individual journalist, but also the news organization and the journalism industry as a whole.
Many news organizations host booths at festivals, but the Fort Worth Star-Telegram staff went a step further.
Many news organizations host booths at festivals, but the Fort Worth Star-Telegram staff went a step further. On top of showing up at a popular community event and interacting with the public, they decided to also help register people to vote. By being present in the community they allowed people to see them as real people and get to know them better. When people meet journalists and get to know them it can help build trust for the individual journalist, but also the news organization and the journalism industry as a whole.
Video: How to Submit a Letter to the Editor
The Tennessean produced a 41-second video  for users explaining how to submit a “letter to the editor.” They included information about where to send the letter and how many words it should be (250 or less). The video is concise and to the point. More importantly, it can be embedded on the website or easily shared on social and by including text on the screen, it is easily consumable.
Video: How to Submit a Letter to the Editor
The Tennessean produced a 41-second video  for users explaining how to submit a “letter to the editor.” They included information about where to send the letter and how many words it should be (250 or less). The video is concise and to the point. More importantly, it can be embedded on the website or easily shared on social and by including text on the screen, it is easily consumable.
Enid used Facebook to remind their users of what type of content they will delete and what type they allow in comment sections. Having a comment policy for your website and social platforms allows you to more easily moderate conversations with users. But, while you may have established these policies and have them visibly displayed, a reminder is always helpful.
Enid used Facebook to remind their users of what type of content they will delete and what type they allow in comment sections. Having a comment policy for your website and social platforms allows you to more easily moderate conversations with users. But, while you may have established these policies and have them visibly displayed, a reminder is always helpful.
Community Impact wanted to make sure its users understood how it was approaching primary election season. In a post on their website, they stressed how they will be reaching out to all candidates in contested races and would not be endorsing candidates. They also shared which races they would be covering. This post did not inspire negative comments from users, something that is rare for a political story.
Community Impact wanted to make sure its users understood how it was approaching primary election season. In a post on their website, they stressed how they will be reaching out to all candidates in contested races and would not be endorsing candidates. They also shared which races they would be covering. This post did not inspire negative comments from users, something that is rare for a political story.
When communities are faced with a big decision at the ballot box, we try our best to provide the facts. The Tennessean did that in an editorial but also included a section that shared who the journalists met with and talked to while putting the story together. The ballot measure ended up failing, but the newsroom received positive feedback about their in-depth coverage on the issue.
When communities are faced with a big decision at the ballot box, we try our best to provide the facts. The Tennessean did that in an editorial but also included a section that shared who the journalists met with and talked to while putting the story together. The ballot measure ended up failing, but the newsroom received positive feedback about their in-depth coverage on the issue.
The Jefferson City News Tribune used a pull-out box to highlight the variety of coverage and different perspectives included in their stories about an issue. The news organization addressed that the story was about an issue people have mixed feelings about. They then explained what the current article was going to highlight and focus on and then linked to stories that provided a different perspective. They also linked to opinion pieces about the topic.
The Jefferson City News Tribune used a pull-out box to highlight the variety of coverage and different perspectives included in their stories about an issue. The news organization addressed that the story was about an issue people have mixed feelings about. They then explained what the current article was going to highlight and focus on and then linked to stories that provided a different perspective. They also linked to opinion pieces about the topic.
The Jefferson City News Tribune created story pages for some of their bigger stories that provided a summary of the issue and then links to the previous stories written. In addition to a well-written summary of the issue, the news organization highlighted how "balanced and accurate reporting" was a priority for them and that creating a page like this, a one-stop shop with story links for big issues, is one way they are working to provide a full view of the issues.
The Jefferson City News Tribune created story pages for some of their bigger stories that provided a summary of the issue and then links to the previous stories written. In addition to a well-written summary of the issue, the news organization highlighted how “balanced and accurate reporting” was a priority for them and that creating a page like this, a one-stop shop with story links for big issues, is one way they are working to provide a full view of the issues.
In an effort to let users know they are listening to them and looking to include all perspectives when reporting a story, WITF added the following to the top of their web stories: ""Here are the most prominent perspectives on this story. We are on the lookout for stereotypes and assumptions in our own work, and we invite you to point out we may have missed. Contact us on our Trusting News page."
In an effort to let users know they are listening to them and looking to include all perspectives when reporting a story, WITF added the following to the top of their web stories: “Here are the most prominent perspectives on this story. We are on the lookout for stereotypes and assumptions in our own work, and we invite you to point out we may have missed. Contact us on our Trusting News page.”
A journalist at the Community Impact newspaper group used Twitter to talk about the news organization's mission and explain journalism. The journalist used a personal account to share the information in a Twitter thread. He discussed how they work to be accurate in their reporting and offered to answer any questions people have about the news organization's coverage or journalism in general.
A journalist at the Community Impact newspaper group used Twitter to talk about the news organization’s mission and explain journalism. The journalist used a personal account to share the information in a Twitter thread. He discussed how they work to be accurate in their reporting and offered to answer any questions people have about the news organization’s coverage or journalism in general.
To define their mission as a news organization the Christian Science Monitor wrote an editorial to their readers. They discussed how their focus is to move off the left-right political axis and focus their reporting on the ideas behind the news. They said some readers get this, some seem "too deep" in the polarized world and others point to ways the news organization can do this better. In addition to the editorial, they also asked for feedback on social media.
To define their mission as a news organization the Christian Science Monitor wrote an editorial to their readers. They discussed how their focus is to move off the left-right political axis and focus their reporting on the ideas behind the news. They said some readers get this, some seem “too deep” in the polarized world and others point to ways the news organization can do this better. In addition to the editorial, they also asked for feedback on social media.
After a survey about low trust in media was published, the Christian Science Monitor asked their Facebook followers if they trusted the news organization. Editors said the comments received were "very constructive." They said they received much more praise than criticism and the criticism received was constructive. The news organization made sure to monitor and respond to comments and said they were surprised how enthusiastic people were about providing feedback.
After a survey about low trust in media was published, the Christian Science Monitor asked their Facebook followers if they trusted the news organization. Editors said the comments received were “very constructive.” They said they received much more praise than criticism and the criticism received was constructive. The news organization made sure to monitor and respond to comments and said they were surprised how enthusiastic people were about providing feedback.
The Coloradoan created a Facebook group for their community so people can get answers about what is happening in their local neighborhoods. They partnered with their local fire agency who also chimes in and provides answers to some of the questions. The news organization created user guidelines and is very clear about what people should expect from the group. So far, they said, feedback has been very positive and they have been able to get local utility companies and the police department involved in discussions as well.
The Coloradoan posted an article on their website explaining why they waited to report on sexual misconduct allegations against a local comedian.
The Coloradoan posted an article on their website explaining why they waited to report on sexual misconduct allegations against a local comedian. To explain why their reporting came later, while other news organizations published it sooner, the article discussed their reporting process to verify the information and the ethical considerations they had to make along the way. When they shared the article on Facebook there was one critical commenter who apologized for earlier comments made after reading the reporting explanation.
The Coloradoan posted an article on their website explaining why they waited to report on sexual misconduct allegations against a local comedian.
The Coloradoan posted an article on their website explaining why they waited to report on sexual misconduct allegations against a local comedian. To explain why their reporting came later, while other news organizations published it sooner, the article discussed their reporting process to verify the information and the ethical considerations they had to make along the way. When they shared the article on Facebook there was one critical commenter who apologized for earlier comments made after reading the reporting explanation.
The Coloradoan added a note to the top of a story about allegations of sexual misconduct against a local comedian.
The Coloradoan added a note to the top of a story about allegations of sexual misconduct against a local comedian. The newspaper posted their story on the issue later than other news organizations and wanted to explain why. The note read: “To investigate this story, the Coloradoan spent the past month vetting accounts, speaking to police and interviewing all parties involved before publishing this story.” In addition, they wrote a separate editorial about their decision to wait on publishing that explained their reporting process and decision making.
When sharing a story about someone who died by suicide on Facebook, the Coloradoan used the post as a way to explain their approach to covering suicides. The Facebook post read: "It's the Coloradoan's policy not to report on individual suicides unless the act is in a public place or involves a high-profile person, such as in this case. We felt it was important to report on this story to complete our coverage of the case and provide resources for those struggling with mental illness." The news team did a good job responding to commenters in an appropriate tone and used national guidelines from the CDC to help explain their position.
When sharing a story about someone who died by suicide on Facebook, the Coloradoan used the post as a way to explain their approach to covering suicides. The Facebook post read: “It’s the Coloradoan’s policy not to report on individual suicides unless the act is in a public place or involves a high-profile person, such as in this case. We felt it was important to report on this story to complete our coverage of the case and provide resources for those struggling with mental illness.” The news team did a good job responding to commenters in an appropriate tone and used national guidelines from the CDC to help explain their position.
Enid News and Eagle received critical comments after sharing a story on Facebook. The commenter was critical of their overall news coverage, specifically mistakes found in the paper. The news organizations responded to the commenter, explaining where corrections can be found and how the paper strives for accuracy. When responding, Enid also discussed the important role it serves in the community.
Enid News and Eagle received critical comments after sharing a story on Facebook. The commenter was critical of their overall news coverage, specifically mistakes found in the paper. The news organizations responded to the commenter, explaining where corrections can be found and how the paper strives for accuracy. When responding, Enid also discussed the important role it serves in the community.
The Gazette used a historic photo of their newsroom to highlight their connection to the community. The news organization did something similar before, but saw a more positive response when using a photo from the past. The post also asked users for feedback by including a link to a Google Form.
The Gazette used a historic photo of their newsroom to highlight their connection to the community. The news organization did something similar before but saw a more positive response when using a photo from the past. The post also asked users for feedback by including a link to a Google Form.
Using Facebook the Gazette asked users for story ideas. They stressed their focus on community issues and specifically asked for ideas on what types of local stories the news organization should cover. The news team felt the comments were productive and that their focus on "local" in the post helped keep the conversation and comments positive.
Using Facebook the Gazette asked users for story ideas. They stressed their focus on community issues — and their local ownership — and specifically asked for ideas on what types of local stories the news organization should cover. The news team felt the comments were productive and that their focus on “local” in the post helped keep the conversation and comments positive.
The Gazette used Twitter to remind users of its mission. While sharing a link to a story about opioid abuse, the news team explained why they covered the topic from a particular angle and reminded users part of their mission is to "look for solutions facing Iowa."
The Gazette used Twitter to remind users of its mission. While sharing a link to a story about opioid abuse, the news team explained why they covered the topic from a particular angle and reminded users part of their mission is to “look for solutions facing Iowa.”
The Gazette used the Facebook Story (About) feature to share their history as a news organization. They discussed how long they have served the community and highlighted milestones along the way. By completing this section, anyone who clicks on their Facebook page will be able to learn more about their news organization and history in the community.
The Gazette used the Facebook Story (About) feature to share their history as a news organization. They discussed how long they have served the community and highlighted milestones along the way. By completing this section, anyone who clicks on their Facebook page will be able to learn more about their news organization and history in the community.
The Jefferson City News Tribune remembered a city employee who died by posting about her death on their Facebook page. The news organization found it was an easy way to highlight previous coverage featuring this individual and show their local ties to the community.
The Jefferson City News Tribune remembered a city employee who died by posting about her death on their Facebook page. The news organization found it was an easy way to highlight previous coverage featuring this individual and show their local ties to the community.
The Jefferson City News Tribune decided to tackle "fake news" rhetoric head-on. They published a simple message on Facebook: "We hate fake news, too." In the post, they also linked to their "about us" page on their website and asked for feedback using a Google Form.
The Jefferson City News Tribune decided to tackle “fake news” rhetoric head-on. They published a simple message on Facebook: “We hate fake news, too.” In the post, they also linked to their “about us” page on their website and asked for feedback using a Google Form.
The Jefferson City News Tribune wrote about an award their news team won and shared the post on Facebook. "When Jefferson City wins, so do we," it read. The post then discussed one of the stories the news organization won an award for which was a photograph of a local baseball team's victory. The newspaper also congratulated the journalists and recognized the baseball team in the post.
The Jefferson City News Tribune wrote about an award their news team won and shared the post on Facebook. “When Jefferson City wins, so do we,” it read. The post then discussed one of the stories the news organization won an award for which was a photograph of a local baseball team’s victory. The newspaper also congratulated the journalists and recognized the baseball team in the post.
While covering a local political story that was divisive in the community, the Jefferson City News Tribune decided to write about their approach to covering the issue. On their website they published a column explaining the news decisions they made and how they incorporated coverage from national news organizations. Their goal was to explain to users that they were making news coverage decisions with the public in mind. They said they received positive and negative feedback, with one individual saying the column motivated them to reach out to the newsroom.
While covering a local political story that was divisive in the community, the Jefferson City News Tribune decided to write about their approach to covering the issue. On their website, they published a column explaining the news decisions they made and how they incorporated coverage from national news organizations. Their goal was to explain to users that they were making news coverage decisions with the public in mind. They said they received positive and negative feedback, with one individual saying the column motivated them to reach out to the newsroom.
The Jefferson City News Tribune wrote about an award their news team won and shared the post on Twitter. "When Jefferson City wins, so do we," it read. The post then discussed one of the stories the news organization won an award for which was a photograph of a local baseball team's victory. The newspaper also congratulated the journalists and recognized the baseball team in the post.
The Jefferson City News Tribune wrote about an award their news team won and shared the post on Twitter. “When Jefferson City wins, so do we,” it read. The post then discussed one of the stories the news organization won an award for which was a photograph of a local baseball team’s victory. The newspaper also congratulated the journalists and recognized the baseball team in the post.
The Standard-Examiner hosted a Facebook Live to describe how their news process works. During the video the newspaper's executive editor and publisher talked about how they make coverage decisions, select stories and how the editorial process works. They took questions live from the audience and received more than 2,000 views.
The Standard-Examiner hosted a Facebook Live to describe how their news process works. During the video, the newspaper’s executive editor and publisher talked about how they make coverage decisions, select stories and how the editorial process works. They took questions live from the audience and received more than 2,000 views.
The Day used social media and their reporting to connect members of their community. After two women took an ad out in their newspaper looking for a relative, the Day wrote a story about it. After the story published, they found the relative and the Day wrote a follow-up story. When sharing the story link on Facebook the news organization highlighted how their reporting helped reunite the family.
The Day used social media and their reporting to connect members of their community. After two women took an ad out in their newspaper looking for a relative, the Day wrote a story about it. After the story published, they found the relative and the Day wrote a follow-up story. When sharing the story link on Facebook the news organization highlighted how their reporting helped reunite the family.
The Day used Facebook to highlight a historic winter event from the past. In the post they mentioned the journalists who worked on the story by name and included information about how long they had been covering these topics to help demonstrate the journalists' credibility and expertise.
The Day used Facebook to highlight a historic winter event from the past. In the post, they mentioned the journalists who worked on the story by name and included information about how long they had been covering these topics to help demonstrate the journalists’ credibility and expertise.
The Day used Facebook to answer questions from users about how their news process works. They used the opportunity to explain story selection, coverage priorities and their journalism ethics. The Q&A, conducted through the comments section of the post on Facebook, reached more than 5,000 people and almost all of the feedback was positive, even when the answer was not exactly what the user wanted to hear.
The Day used Facebook to answer questions from users about how their news process works. They used the opportunity to explain story selection, coverage priorities and their journalism ethics. The Q&A, conducted through the comments section of the post on Facebook, reached more than 5,000 people and almost all of the feedback was positive, even when the answer was not exactly what the user wanted to hear.
The Day discussed their ownership structure by posting to their Facebook page. They used recent grants given out by the news organization's foundation as a way to highlight their company structure and explain their commitment to the community.
The Day discussed their ownership structure by posting to their Facebook page. They used recent grants given out by the news organization’s foundation as a way to highlight their company structure and explain their commitment to the community.
USA TODAY used Twitter to share how they are working to earn trust from users. While highlighting a timely stat about the spread of misinformation, the news organization included a link to a story they wrote about why earning user trust is important to them.
USA TODAY used Twitter to share how they are working to earn trust from users. While highlighting a timely stat about the spread of misinformation, the news organization included a link to a story they wrote about why earning user trust is important to them.
While working on a long-term investigative project about local law enforcement, WCPO thought about how their users may respond to the story once it was published. They realized they may get pushback for investigating police officers and decided to publish a story explaining why they are holding law enforcement accountable. They also highlight how being a watchdog is part of their mission as a news organization. The news team said the explainer story helped keep the focus on their reporting and what they uncovered instead of anti-cop rhetoric they were anticipating.
While working on a long-term investigative project about local law enforcement, WCPO thought about how their users may respond to the story once it was published. They realized they may get pushback for investigating police officers and decided to publish a story explaining why they are holding law enforcement accountable. They also highlight how being a watchdog is part of their mission as a news organization. The news team said the explainer story helped keep the focus on their reporting and what they uncovered instead of anti-cop rhetoric they were anticipating.
WCPO wrote a web article explaining the important role trust plays in their relationship with their community. The article discussed their participation in the Trusting News project and highlighted how they are going to try to be more trustworthy. The web article also invited feedback from users.
WCPO wrote a web article explaining the important role trust plays in their relationship with their community. The article discussed their participation in the Trusting News project and highlighted how they are going to try to be more trustworthy. The web article also invited feedback from users.
WCPO discussed their core beliefs as a news organization while updating their "about" page on their website. They told users they loved their city, discussed how they strive for accuracy and said one of their goals is to be transparent with users. The post was also shared on Facebook where it received hundreds of comments. The news organization said the post worked well and "people seemed to relate, ask questions and respond" to them.
WCPO discussed their core beliefs as a news organization while updating their “about” page on their website. They told users they loved their city, discussed how they strive for accuracy and said one of their goals is to be transparent with users. The post was also shared on Facebook where it received hundreds of comments. The news organization said the post worked well and “people seemed to relate, ask questions and respond” to them.
WITF discussed their participation in the Trusting News project in a post on their website. They also shared the post on Facebook and asked for feedback. Overall, WITF journalists said comments were positive.
WITF discussed their participation in the Trusting News project in a post on their website. They also shared the post on Facebook and asked for feedback. Overall, WITF journalists said comments were positive.
WITF wanted to show users they are connected to the community so they added a note at the top of a story. It read, "WITF is part of your community. We're your neighbors. We invest in this type of reporting because it's vital to talk about life in our region, not about politics. Learn more about our involvement in the Trusting News project."
WITF wanted to show users they are connected to the community so they added a note at the top of a story. It read, “WITF is part of your community. We’re your neighbors. We invest in this type of reporting because it’s vital to talk about life in our region, not about politics. Learn more about our involvement in the Trusting News project.”
KCRG used the viral, controversial Sinclair Broadcasting video as a jumping off point to talk about their own ownership. In the post, they remind readers of their ethics policy, and state in no uncertain terms that coverage decisions are made locally. The news organization said readers appreciated the openness.
KCRG used the viral, controversial Sinclair Broadcasting video as a jumping off point to talk about their own ownership. In the post, they remind readers of their ethics policy, and state in no uncertain terms that coverage decisions are made locally. The news organization said readers appreciated the openness.
Sometimes explaining why you are not covering a story is just as helpful for your users as explaining why you are covering one. KCRG did just that when users asked them why they were not covering all school threats happening in the community. They decided to write an explainer story on their website explaining when and why they will cover school threats and also when they will not. The policy was one that was known inside the newsroom but it was the first time they were making their policy public.
Sometimes explaining why you are not covering a story is just as helpful for your users as explaining why you are covering one. KCRG did just that when users asked them why they were not covering all school threats happening in the community. They decided to write an explainer story on their website explaining when and why they will cover school threats and also when they will not. The policy was one that was known inside the newsroom but it was the first time they were making their policy public.
Sometimes explaining why you are not covering a story is just as helpful for your users as explaining why you are covering one. KCRG did just that when users asked them why they were not covering all school threats happening in the community. They decided to write an explainer story on their website explaining when and why they will cover school threats and also when they will not. The policy was one that was known inside the newsroom but it was the first time they were making their policy public.
Sometimes explaining why you are not covering a story is just as helpful for your users as explaining why you are covering one. KCRG did just that when users asked them why they were not covering all school threats happening in the community. They decided to write an explainer story on their website explaining when and why they will cover school threats and also when they will not. The policy was one that was known inside the newsroom but it was the first time they were making their policy public.
When a suicide occurred on campus, Annenberg Media staff were torn on whether or not they should report on the incident. As they debated their options and talked about the legal issues internally, they also decided to share their thought process and reporting process with their users. Several of the reporters and news managers/professors were interviewed about why they covered the suicide. In the video, posted to Instagram and YouTube, the journalists discussed their policy when it comes to covering suicides and also linked to mental health resources available for those in need.
When a suicide occurred on campus, Annenberg Media staff were torn on whether or not they should report on the incident. As they debated their options and talked about the legal issues internally, they also decided to share their thought process and reporting process with their users. Several of the reporters and news managers/professors were interviewed about why they covered the suicide. In the video, posted to Instagram and YouTube, the journalists discussed their policy when it comes to covering suicides and also linked to mental health resources available for those in need.