The Gazette decided to explain how it covered a story by writing a separate article on their website and linking to it from the main story page. They included the link inside a pull-out box on the story page.
The Gazette decided to explain how it covered a story by writing a separate article on their website and linking to it from the main story page. They included the link inside a pull-out box on the story page.
Breaking news stories can lead to many questions from your audience--especially if early information turns out to be inaccurate. WITF proactively added an editor's note to reassure readers that "we'll only point to the best information we have at the time" and that any errors would be quickly corrected.
Breaking news stories can lead to many questions from your audience–especially if early information turns out to be inaccurate. WITF proactively added an editor’s note to reassure readers that “we’ll only point to the best information we have at the time” and that any errors would be quickly corrected.
To highlight their push for including multiple perspectives in stories, WITF added the following to the top of some web stories: "WITF strives to provide nuanced perspectives from the most authoritative sources. We are on the lookout for biases or assumptions in our own work, and we invite you to point out any we may have missed. Contact us on our Trusting News page."
To highlight their push for including multiple perspectives in stories, WITF added the following to the top of some web stories: “WITF strives to provide nuanced perspectives from the most authoritative sources. We are on the lookout for biases or assumptions in our own work, and we invite you to point out any we may have missed. Contact us on our Trusting News page.”
Screenshot from the News Tribune's Facebook page, showing a post that asked readers: "What questions do you have about Gov. Eric Greitens' indictment? Tell us in a comment, and we'll do our best to answer them."
The Jefferson City News Tribune was covering a complicated political story that was changing quickly. While doing so, they asked their audience what questions they had about the story and attempted to answer them in real time.
Themes:
Newsroom:
While putting together an annual newspaper edition focused on progress, Enid went to Facebook to ask for story ideas. They were specific about what types of topics the story ideas should be about and included an email address for where to send ideas. The newsroom saw this as a way to get fresh story ideas for something they work on every year.
While putting together an annual newspaper edition focused on progress, Enid went to Facebook to ask for story ideas. They were specific about what types of topics the story ideas should be about and included an email address for where to send ideas. The newsroom saw this as a way to get fresh story ideas for something they work on every year.
Tweet from Annenberg Media, reading: Do you have a news tip, story or event you’d like us to cover? You can share your tips and suggestions at http://bit.ly/annenbergmedianewstip ...
Annenberg Media used a simple tweet and Google form to solicit story ideas and tips. If you want feedback, ask for it. When asking it’s important to meet the user where they are. Receiving an email may be easier for you, but sending a Facebook/Instagram Message, tweet, or text may be easier for your user.
Tweet from Annenberg Media, reading: Do you have a news tip, story or event you’d like us to cover? You can share your tips and suggestions at http://bit.ly/annenbergmedianewstip ...
Annenberg Media used a simple tweet and Google form to solicit story ideas and tips. If you want feedback, ask for it. When asking it’s important to meet the user where they are. Receiving an email may be easier for you, but sending a Facebook/Instagram Message, tweet, or text may be easier for your user.
Screenshot from thegazette.com, showing a shaded box where the paper asked readers for feedback and ideas.
To help get more ideas on who they should talk to in their community, the Gazette decided to ask their users for help. Through a shaded pull-out box embeded in a web story, they asked for ideas identifying possible sources and general feedback on the story. In this example, it resulted in the newsroom receiving a handful of story ideas.
Screenshot showing a form embedded on thegazette.com, asking readers "What questions do you have?"
The Gazette started using Google Forms to ask users if anything in their stories needed more reporting or explanation. The forms were primarily created for local stories they wanted to dig into more. This resulted in information for them to advance the story, and also, sometimes led to a new story to cover.
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.
Your commenters can be some of your most opinionated readers, and sometimes they have questions about the comments themselves. The Virginian-Pilot created a FAQ that addressed questions about usernames, community guidelines, bans and more. Plus, having a clear policy can help when they do need to enforce the rules.
Your commenters can be some of your most opinionated readers, and sometimes they have questions about the comments themselves. The Virginian-Pilot created an FAQ that addressed questions about usernames, community guidelines, bans and more. Plus, having a clear policy can help when they do need to enforce the rules.
Screenshot from WCPO's Facebook page, showing an article where they asked for reader feedback.
WCPO followed the lead of ESPN and reported that an NFL player would be leaving the Bengals. Turns out it wasn’t true. WCPO addressed the mistake head-on by writing about how the mistake happened on their website. They shared their step-by-step reporting process, which involved relying on ESPN’s citing of anonymous sources. This led them to share their anonymous source policy and ask their audience for feedback. “Should we publish and air stories from other respected news organizations citing anonymous sources,” they asked. They then shared the article with a call for feedback on Facebook.
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.
Screenshot from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram page on Facebook. The image says: Readers, what do you want to see from us this year?
Meet readers where they are—on social media—to make it easy for them to share feedback and story ideas you might have missed. Responding to comments gave the Star-Telegram team additional opportunities to learn about their audience, share their ethics and values, and highlight recent coverage.
Internal meetings helped the staff at The Virginian-Pilot reach an agreement on what terms like exclusive, breaking, developing or enterprise mean when it comes to categorizing stories. Once they came to an agreement a glossary was published online to explain these terms to readers. As a bonus, the news organization said the labeling effort helped them better track performance on these stories, too.
Internal meetings helped the staff at The Virginian-Pilot reach an agreement on what terms like exclusive, breaking, developing or enterprise mean when it comes to categorizing stories. Once they came to an agreement a glossary was published online to explain these terms to readers. As a bonus, the news organization said the labeling effort helped them better track performance on these stories, too.
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.
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.
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 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.
During Sunshine Week, The Virginian-Pilot wrote about how public information laws and FOIA work. They talked about how anyone can request information and provided a step-by-step guide waling people through the process. Sharing this information allowed them a chance to talk more about their commitment to the community and show users they are here to help.
During Sunshine Week, The Virginian-Pilot wrote about how public information laws and FOIA work. They talked about how anyone can request information and provided a step-by-step guide waling people through the process. Sharing this information allowed them a chance to talk more about their commitment to the community and show users they are here to help.
The Virginian-Pilot wrote a story explaining how it writes headlines. The piece discussed how digital and print headlines may be different sometimes and explaining their approach to subject.
The Virginian-Pilot wrote a story explaining how it writes headlines. The piece discussed how digital and print headlines may be different sometimes and explaining their approach to subject.
While working on a story about the Parkland school shooting, a reporter for the Christian Science Monitor decided to share how she was able to get in touch with the students she quoted in her article. She said it felt "totally natural" to include this information and helped her explain her reporting process to her users.
While working on a story about the Parkland school shooting, A reporter for the Christian Science Monitor decided to share how she was able to get in touch with the students she quoted in her article. She said it felt “totally natural” to include this information and helped her explain her reporting process to her users.
By posting a story on their website, WITF decided to explain how journalists put together one of the shows they air. The article discussed how they use wire content and other national news coverage. It also discussed how much of the news segment is local.
In a story on their website, WITF explains how journalists put together one of the shows they air. The article discusses how they use wire content and other national news coverage, and what their relationship is to those partner organizations. It also discusses how much of the news segment is local.
Screenshot from a Facebook LIVE Q&A with KCRG's news director.
Bring yourself to your audience. That’s what KCRG did when they went live on Facebook to talk about their newsroom values and journalism processes. Some things people wanted to know included how they choose which stories to cover and how they manage social media posts. News managers were involved in the video too. The video received more than 8 thousand views.
The Virginian-Pilot wrote a story explaining how their "letters to the editor" section works. It talked about how stories are selected and who is in charge of selecting the stories. The explanation post was also published in print.
The Virginian-Pilot wrote a story explaining how their “letters to the editor” section works. It talked about how stories are selected and who is in charge of selecting the stories. The explanation post was also published in print.
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.
After creating a poll on Facebook about guns, the Standard-Examiner received a question about the words they were using to describe certain guns. The news organization explained why they were using certain terms and asked for feedback from users about the issue.
After creating a poll on Facebook about guns, the Standard-Examiner received a question about the words they were using to describe certain guns. The news organization explained why they were using certain terms (and the role the Associated Press played in that) and asked for feedback from users about the issue.
As journalists, we sometimes forget that words in our daily vocabulary might not be familiar to readers. The Virginian-Pilot created a plain-language glossary, explaining terms like wire, editorial, exclusive, and more. Having this reference can come in handy when readers have questions, like whether "analysis" is news or opinion.
As journalists, we sometimes forget that words in our daily vocabulary might not be familiar to readers. The Virginian-Pilot created a plain-language glossary, explaining terms like wire, editorial, exclusive, and more. Having this reference can come in handy when readers have questions, like whether “analysis” is news or opinion.
The Virginian-Pilot wrote a story explaining the difference between news, opinion and analysis in their paper. The discussed how they define each title and how users can tell them apart.
The Virginian-Pilot wrote a story explaining the difference between news, opinion and analysis in their paper. The discussed how they define each title and how users can tell them apart.
When the Olympics took place in a time zone 14 hours ahead of most U.S. audiences, USA TODAY faced complaints about "spoilers" in their coverage. This post explained why they prioritize sharing information as it happens, rather than waiting for prime time. Plus, they offered a few tips to help readers customize their notifications, good knowledge to share in many situations.
When the Olympics took place in a time zone 14 hours ahead of most U.S. audiences, USA TODAY faced complaints about “spoilers” in their coverage. This post explained why they prioritize sharing information as it happens, rather than waiting for prime time. Plus, they offered a few tips to help readers customize their notifications, good knowledge to share in many situations.
After receiving a 911 audio tape close to air time WUSA found itself in a situation where it had to turn a story quickly. Like many breaking news situations, this means, information may come out in pieces and not all in one concise story. To explain this, WUSA let the user in on their reporting process by adding the following language on-air: "We have about a half-hour of 9-1-1 audio that our team is going through, right now -- If there's anything else in there that's important to pass along -- we'll have it for you tomorrow morning, on Wake up Washington."
After receiving a 911 audio tape close to air time WUSA found itself in a situation where it had to turn a story quickly. Like many breaking news situations, this means, information may come out in pieces and not all in one concise story. To explain this, WUSA let the user in on their reporting process by adding the following language on-air: “We have about a half-hour of 9-1-1 audio that our team is going through, right now — If there’s anything else in there that’s important to pass along — we’ll have it for you tomorrow morning, on Wake up Washington.”
Throughout an investigative story, WUSA explained to its users how they produced a story. The reporter began by relating to the community by explaining his connection to the city of Washington, D.C. Then the reporter explained what questions they were trying to answer by doing the story and why they felt it was an important story to produce. Throughout the story they discuss their reporting process and invite feedback and questions. The reporter even offers his cell phone to users on-air.
Throughout an investigative story, WUSA explained to its users how they produced a story. The reporter began by relating to the community by explaining his connection to the city of Washington, D.C. Then the reporter explained what questions they were trying to answer by doing the story and why they felt it was an important story to produce. Throughout the story they discuss their reporting process and invite feedback and questions. The reporter even offers his cell phone to users on-air.
A lot of users wonder why certain stories make it into the news cycle while others do not. The Christian Science Monitor decided to add an editor's note to one of their newsletters explaining why a story was being covered. They shared how the story idea became a "talker" during the editorial meeting and that impacted their decision to include the story in their news coverage.
A lot of users wonder why certain stories make it into the news cycle while others do not. The Christian Science Monitor decided to add an editor’s note to one of their newsletters explaining why a story was being covered. They shared how the story idea became a “talker” during the editorial meeting and that impacted their decision to include the story in their news coverage.
Some audience members assume that journalists will broadcast whatever they hear--or whatever will drum up the most controversy. Inviting them into your editing process can reassure them of your credibility. WITF did just that when it received possibly explosive information. Rather than running with it as a breaking news story, they took a month to vet all the facts, A post from the editor explained their commitment to producing a deeply reported, independent analysis of the issue.
Some audience members assume that journalists will broadcast whatever they hear–or whatever will drum up the most controversy. Inviting them into your editing process can reassure them of your credibility. WITF did just that when it received possibly explosive information. Rather than running with it as a breaking news story, they took a month to vet all the facts, A post from the editor explained their commitment to producing a deeply reported, independent analysis of the issue.
In an effort to be more transparent with its users, the Jefferson City News Tribune, wrote a column about how the editorial page works. In the column they discuss their mission as a news organization, explain that the editorial page is made up of people's opinions not news and then talk about how the page works. They explain that they are an independent paper that tends to lean conservative but they still look to include other views different than their own. They also embedded their user feedback form at the bottom of the article.
In an effort to be more transparent with its users, the Jefferson City News Tribune, wrote a column about how the editorial page works. In the column they discuss their mission as a news organization, explain that the editorial page is made up of people’s opinions not news and then talk about how the page works. They explain that they are an independent paper that tends to lean conservative but they still look to include other views different than their own. They also embedded their user feedback form at the bottom of the article.
The Virginian-Pilot wrote a story explaining what an anonymous source is and isn't. They discussed when they may use anonymous sources and also explained why you will not see them use them that often.
The Virginian-Pilot wrote a story explaining what an anonymous source is and isn’t. They discussed when they may use anonymous sources and also explained why you will not see them use them that often.
KCRG decided to explain to users how it was going to cover President Donald Trump's use of profanity to describe some third-world countries.
KCRG decided to explain to users how it was going to cover President Donald Trump’s use of profanity to describe some third-world countries. In the opinion piece, a news manager explains how they are going to cover the story differently than other media organizations, by focusing on the “why” and not the reactionary soundbites. This post allowed the newsroom to explain its news values and set itself apart from “the media,” a group that when lumped together can often be criticized and distrusted. KCRG also shared the post on Facebook and asked for feedback on how they chose to cover the story.
KCRG decided to explain to users how it was going to cover President Donald Trump's use of profanity to describe some third-world countries.
KCRG decided to explain to users how it was going to cover President Donald Trump’s use of profanity to describe some third-world countries. In the opinion piece, a news manager explains how they are going to cover the story differently than other media organizations, by focusing on the “why” and not the reactionary soundbites. This post allowed the newsroom to explain its news values and set itself apart from “the media,” a group that when lumped together can often be criticized and distrusted. KCRG also shared the post on Facebook and asked for feedback on how they chose to cover the story.
WITF decided to share their ethics policy and explain how it impacts their news decisions. In the post, on their webiste, the newsroom discussed how, when and why it may use anonymous sources, how it handles corrections, how it handles story selection and more.
WITF decided to share their ethics policy and explain how it impacts their news decisions. In the post, on their website, the newsroom discussed how, when and why it may use anonymous sources, how it handles corrections, how it handles story selection and more.
To explain how they gather information and fact-check the information they receive, the Community Impact Newspaper group wrote a story for their website. The story focused on a recent article about opioid abuse and discussed how they try to balance opinions and viewpoints published in their news content.
To explain how they gather information and fact-check the information they receive, the Community Impact Newspaper group wrote a story for their website. The story focused on a recent article about opioid abuse and discussed how they try to balance opinions and viewpoints published in their news content.
Screenshot from thegazette.com, showing an explanation of how a story originated with reader feedback.
The Gazette noticed a lot of users had questions about a story they covered. They looked at the questions and decided they warranted responses, so, the news team worked to find answers and published a follow-up story. They made sure to include language explaining their reporting process, which highlights how they listen to their users act on feedback they receive.

Remind your community about your mission and purpose. Tell them you work on behalf of the public. Use specific language and strong words, like watchdog and investigation, rather than hoping those concepts are clear.

Over the course of a week--from the first report of a death of a law enforcement officer, to his memorial service--WITF wrestled with several difficult coverage decisions. Should they report information they confidently knew through informal connections, or wait for official announcements? Should journalists attend the service as members of the public? The editor, who was a friend of one of the people involved, offered a very open, first-person account of how the newsroom approached the highly sensitive story. He writes: "It's important to remember the people we cover are more than just the role they play in a story."
Over the course of a week–from the first report of a death of a law enforcement officer, to his memorial service–WITF wrestled with several difficult coverage decisions. Should they report information they confidently knew through informal connections, or wait for official announcements? Should journalists attend the service as members of the public? The editor, who was a friend of one of the people involved, offered a very open, first-person account of how the newsroom approached the highly sensitive story. He writes: “It’s important to remember the people we cover are more than just the role they play in a story.”
Hashtags can let your Twitter followers know what type of story you're sharing at a glance, helping them to frame their expectations before even landing on your website. The Virginian-Pilot created hashtags to better categorize content on Twitter for their users. They created #VPColumn and #VPEditorial for opinion content, and #VPBreaking for developing stories.
Hashtags can let your Twitter followers know what type of story you’re sharing at a glance, helping them to frame their expectations before even landing on your website. The Virginian-Pilot created hashtags to better categorize content on Twitter for their users. They created #VPColumn and #VPEditorial for opinion content and #VPBreaking for developing stories.
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.”
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.
Screenshot of the Christian Science Monitor Instagram Story where they interview their global affairs correspondent.
The Christian Science Monitor sat down with their global affairs correspondent to answer questions ranging from fun (What is your favorite meal?) to powerful (What makes your reporting distinct?). The answers were posted to Instagram Stories which gave them room to experiment and helped them reach a younger audience.
Screenshot from the Christian Science Monitor page on Facebook.
Planning a big story? Let readers chime in with the questions they’d like to see answered. The Christian Science Monitor saw “validation that our audience likes to be a part of the process” when they introduced their interns, shared their own goals for covering an upcoming political event, and prompted readers to share what they’d ask. They also set clear expectations of how reader questions would be used.
Screenshot from a Facebook LIVE video on USA TODAY's page, showing a discussion between readers and experts.
USA TODAY invited two people who commented on a previous Facebook Live, sharing traumatic stories involving assault and abuse, to join a Facebook Live via Skype, with a representative of the Women’s Center in Washington, D.C. Engaging with users throughout all aspects of reporting made this possible. While logistically challenging, USA TODAY was very happy with how it turned out, and so were users.
When faced with the question of whether or not to cover another school threat in the D.C.-area, WUSA decided to pose the question to their audience. "Should the media report on all threats targeted at schools? Tweet us your thoughts using #OffScriptOn9," they posted in Twitter. In the Twitter thread they discussed that they did not have a set policy about whether or not cover school threats and that the newsroom is often debating this issue internally.
When faced with the question of whether or not to cover another school threat in the D.C.-area, WUSA decided to pose the question to their audience. “Should the media report on all threats targeted at schools? Tweet us your thoughts using #OffScriptOn9,” they posted on Twitter. In the Twitter thread, they discussed that they did not have a set policy about whether or not cover school threats and that the newsroom is often debating this issue internally.
In response to criticism for spending time on light stories — sometimes perceived as frivolous — Coloradoan reporter Erin Udell included an explanation that said: “This is a first-person perspective by reporter Erin Udell. She covers art, entertainment and fun in Fort Collins. She also enjoys answering the occasional silly question. She can be reached at erinudell@coloradoan.com or on Twitter @erinudell.” Doing so explained why this story was being done and cut down on pushback.
By writing "Fact-check" into the headline of stories, the Coloradoan boosted credibility and helped readers know what to expect, both on-site and on social media. Stressing that the story started with reader questions led to several positive comments. One of those commenters said, "thanks for keeping it real, Coloradoan!"
By writing “Fact-check” into the headline of stories, the Coloradoan boosted credibility and helped readers know what to expect, both on-site and on social media. Stressing that the story started with reader questions led to several positive comments. One of those commenters said, “thanks for keeping it real, Coloradoan!”
USA TODAY heard from readers on Facebook that they were not always sure when they were reading news and when they were reading opinion. Editors tried manually adding the word Column to some headlines for Facebook, and they perceived a lower level of confusion as a result. It seemed easier for readers to acknowledge that they were consuming a piece designed to have a certain perspective.
When two opposing groups held rallies on the same day, the Jefferson City News Tribune took the opportunity to show users how they try to be balanced in their reporting. They published two articles (one about each rally) and then added a note at the top of each story linking to the story about the opposing rally. The analytics showed people were navigating to the stories from the link on the opposing story, in some cases.
When two opposing groups held rallies on the same day, the Jefferson City News Tribune took the opportunity to show users how they try to be balanced in their reporting. They published two articles (one about each rally) and then added a note at the top of each story linking to the story about the opposing rally. The analytics showed people were navigating to the stories from the link on the opposing story, in some cases.
Newsy Native Americans
627 likes on a comment! Look for opportunities to explain your process, especially when you see commenters asking questions about it. This comment shows a thoughtfulness behind word choices that not all news consumers would assume journalists have. This example also shows the value of staying involved in the conversations we host and participating in them.

Newsy Trump coverage

Look for chances to tie individual coverage to your organization’s mission. In this case, Newsy didn’t just share a fact check. They used the words “fact check” to make sure the point came across, and they reinforced their core principles.

Ogden behind the scenes pornography
With big stories, take time to introduce the staff behind the scenes. Use it as an opportunity to explain why you did a story, what questions you set out to answer and how it came together.
Screenshot from a Discourse Media newsletter
At Discourse, newsletters allow reporters the freedom to show more personality than they do in finished pieces. Here, the reporter shares how her goals, her sourcing, and some practical limitations (juggling deadlines!) shapes her reporting on a topic. Abundantly linking can also help readers follow along on their own.
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.
Screenshot from the comments on a post The Coloradoan made on Facebook, explaining how the news organization handles breaking news updates.
After posting news of a decision in a court case, the Coloradoan received criticism for the lack of information in the story from a Facebook commenter. The news organization responded to the user and explained that this was a breaking news story and they would be updating the story as they confirm details and receive more information.
Being responsive isn't always easy, especially when the comments are negative or critical of your reporting. CALmatters used their newsroom account and one of their reporter's personal Twitter accounts to respond to criticism about the sources they use in their stories. They never received a response when offering to have the conversation, but felt it sent the message that their newsroom wants feedback from everyone, even people who are critical of their reporting.
Being responsive isn’t always easy, especially when the comments are negative or critical of your reporting. CALmatters used their newsroom account and one of their reporter’s personal Twitter accounts to respond to criticism about the sources they use in their stories. They never received a response when offering to have the conversation, but felt it sent the message that their newsroom wants feedback from everyone, even people who are critical of their reporting.
After receiving a lot of criticism for a published "letter to the editor," the State decided to add an editor's note to the bottom of all letters printed by the news organization. The note reads, "The State publishes a cross section of the letters we receive from South Carolinians in order to provide a forum for our community and also to allow our community to get a good look at itself, for good or bad. The letters represent the views of the letter writers, not necessarily of The State."
After receiving a lot of criticism for a published letter to the editor, The State decided to add an editor’s note to the bottom of all letters printed by the news organization. The note reads, “The State publishes a cross section of the letters we receive from South Carolinians in order to provide a forum for our community and also to allow our community to get a good look at itself, for good or bad. The letters represent the views of the letter writers, not necessarily of The State.”
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.
Social media can get a bad rap, but for many newsrooms, it's a key part of how audiences find their coverage. In this post, the social media editor at WITF explains that her goal is to inform and add value to the readers' day. She clearly states that while tracking clicks is part of the job, "we avoid raising your blood pressure for the sake of engagement stats." Finally, she reminds readers of the station's comment policy, and invites feedback and reactions.
Social media can get a bad rap, but for many newsrooms, it’s a key part of how audiences find their coverage. In this post, the social media editor at WITF explains that her goal is to inform and add value to the readers’ day. She clearly states that while tracking clicks is part of the job, “we avoid raising your blood pressure for the sake of engagement stats.” Finally, she reminds readers of the station’s comment policy, and invites feedback and reactions.
Annenberg Media realized it was in need of a corrections policy. In the process of creating one, they also took a look at their ethics policy and decided to share it with the public. In addition to making the policy public, they built it in a way that could be searched by keywords. They also wrote it in a way that non-journalists could understand. They did not include any industry jargon and tried to think as a user when categorizing and building the webpage.
Annenberg Media realized it was in need of a corrections policy. In the process of creating one, they also took a look at their ethics policy and decided to share it with the public. In addition to making the policy public, they built it in a way that could be searched by keywords. They also wrote it in a way that non-journalists could understand. They did not include any industry jargon and tried to think like a user when categorizing and building the webpage.
Screenshot from communityimpact.com, reading: Editor’s note: Community Impact Newspaper has been following the paid sick leave issue since the city began gathering input for a potential citywide ordinance. Throughout Community Impact Newspaper‘s reporting, viewpoints from all sides of the issue have been expressed. Please click this link to find all previous coverage on this issue.
Balanced reporting can happen over time, but readers don’t always see the full breadth of your coverage. An editor’s note can draw attention to the wide variety of sources you’ve interviewed—and highlight your promise to keep sharing a range of perspectives.
Are you a local reporter? Own it. A reporter at the Coloradoan took to Twitter to share her pride in covering stories that would otherwise go untold. As she wrote, "You won’t see a reporter from a national news outlet going door-to-door in your neighborhood most days." Don't be shy about sharing genuine pride and excitement.
Are you a local reporter? Own it. A reporter at the Coloradoan took to Twitter to share her pride in covering stories that would otherwise go untold. As she wrote, “You won’t see a reporter from a national news outlet going door-to-door in your neighborhood most days.” Don’t be shy about sharing genuine pride and excitement.
Screenshot from WITF's website, showing a post with the headline: "Media is criticized; not trusted by half of Americans"
During a daily, live radio show, WITF put the focus of the show on journalism and declining trust in news. They invited industry experts and took questions from listeners, which they answered after the show. The show was honest about the issues facing the industry while also offering insight into how news works.
When The Coloradoan made changes to their paywall, the newsroom decided to address the changes directly with their users by writing a column. In it, they explained why they were making the change: News isn’t free to produce and also how they would handle comments that instructed folks on how to get around the paywall or displayed our whole stories for free.
Not being able to tell opinion content from news content is a frustration a lot of news consumers have. And, in some cases, that’s for good reason. Across platforms, news organizations don’t always make it easy. We have to make sure we are labeling our content and using words the public will understand. And the words “editorial” and “op-ed” do not necessarily help our situation. We know what those words mean, but not all users do. 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.
We’re learning a lot at Trusting News about how news consumers decide what to trust and what journalists can do in response. Lynn and I could (and often do) talk all day about it! (It’s nerdy, we know.) But with the launch this week of a revamped TrustingNews.org, we’re hoping to give you a simple on-ramp to discussing trust in your newsroom. To read more from this edition click here and you can sign up for the weekly “Trust Tips” newsletter by clicking here.
Recently, I was so excited to listen to a behind-the-scenes episode of a favorite podcast. The host promised wild stories about how a story I’d enjoyed had come together. In reality, though, much of the episode focused on some pretty mundane aspects of how reporting happens — like how interviews and sources fell through, the weather made travel complicated and a staff member was sidelined by a sick kid. To read more from this edition click here and you can sign up for the weekly “Trust Tips” newsletter by clicking here.
A new neighbor once said that until she got to know me a bit, she always thought of journalists as ambulance chasers. But she then — with no irony — told me how excited she was about a story she’d seen in the arts section that weekend that had allowed her to make a meaningful connection with a like-minded person. It didn’t register with her that local journalists had concretely enriched her life just in the last few days. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click 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.
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.
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 3: Be ready to discuss content you don't produce
Who do you trust to inform your audience of things that happen outside your coverage area? When was the last time you and your colleagues had a good talk about the stories you publish that you don’t produce yourselves? We’re here to tell you: Your audience is talking about those stories, and they’re holding you accountable for 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 4: Use Direct Language
Cutline, VOSOT, A1 — just because you say it in the newsroom doesn’t mean your audience will understand it. We all know how important it is to use words that help us communicate clearly with our audiences. That’s true for the language we use when reporting on complex topics, and when we talk about our own work. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here.
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.
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.
Taking readers behind the scenes can help with so many things: Showing a reporter's personality and motivations, explaining how a story comes together, and providing context. Instagram Stories gave a Discourse reporter an easy and personable way to share her thoughts during a reporting trip.
Taking readers behind the scenes can help with so many things: Showing a reporter’s personality and motivations, explaining how a story comes together, and providing context. Instagram Stories gave a Discourse reporter an easy and personable way to share her thoughts during a reporting trip.
Screenshot from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's page on Facebook, asking: What are we missing? And including instructions for community members to submit story ideas.
Want to know what types of stories your audience wants to see? Just ask them. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram used the hiring of a new investigative journalist to ask users “what are we missing?” The post, shared on Facebook and Twitter, invited users to share story ideas with the newsroom using a Google Form. As journalists we sometimes assume people know it’s OK to contact us but, that’s not always the case. A simple ask or invitation can go a long way.