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.
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.”
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.

 

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.
When thinking about what it takes to build trust, it’s important to remember that trust involves feelings, not just facts. It involves affective trust, not just cognitive trust. You can’t simply persuade someone to trust you. They have to believe it. Think about who you trust. They are probably people you’ve had an opportunity to get to know and develop a relationship with, right? The same is true when it comes to trust in news organizations. People trust who and what they know and have relationships with. One part of building a relationship is getting to know each other. You can do this in conversations with your audience. (It’s important to invest in interactions.) You can also do this by sharing your brand’s values and stories, and by relating to what your community is feeling and going through.
The Philadelphia Inquirer used Twitter to highlight some of their best journalism and show the breadth and depth of their work. They tied it to World Press Day and had individual reporters and editors share the work they were most proud of.
Jareen Imam, the Director of Social Newsgathering at NBC, shared a screenshot of their team meeting remotely during the coronavirus outbreak and prompted users to submit their questions. “How are you being affected by COVID-19? Whether you’re a healthcare worker on the frontlines, a parent working from home, a recovering patient or a furloughed worker, @NBCNews Social Newsgathering team is working 24/7 to hear your stories and tips,” the Tweet read. Not only does this build transparency, but it also reminds users that their journalists are real people who are part of their local communities, weathering this storm along with them.
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.
KPRC in Houston created online profiles for each of the station’s reporters. Each bio included the reporter’s credentials, as well as highlighted their personality, inviting people to get to know them as real people. Publishing short bios like these is an easy way to create trust and build credibility with your audience. This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
WCPO anchor Kristen Swilley wrote a column explaining how, as an African-American woman, it was important to her to switch from straightening her hair to wearing it more naturally. She provided context about how historically, the industry hasn’t allowed women of color to wear their hair naturally, and how she was proud to work at a place that supported the change. First-person explanations like these can help quell audience assumptions while also reminding them that journalists are real people too.
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.”
How do you choose which stories to cover? That question is high on the list of what your audience wants to know about your work. And as we wrote in an earlier newsletter, without clear answers from you, they’re making plenty of assumptions.
Rather than letting your audience guess about your agenda, try telling them what you’re trying to accomplish. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here
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.
The Day took to Facebook to share candid photos of staffers, as well as explain their coverage areas and provide contact information for their newsroom and journalists. A post featuring a long-time community reporter was especially popular, showing that readers truly value the paper's commitment to local coverage.
The Day took to Facebook to share candid photos of staffers, as well as explain their coverage areas and provide contact information for their newsroom and journalists. A post featuring a long-time community reporter was especially popular, showing that readers truly value the paper’s commitment to local coverage.
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.
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.
The Virginian Pilot highlighted their journalists' credentials by having them update their online profiles. Information about their journalism experience can create trust and build credibility, while some fun facts show a more human, relateable side. This project would be easy to replicate, so take a moment to check: Do your reporters have bios? And would a reader be able to easily find them?
The Virginian Pilot highlighted their journalists’ credentials by having them update their online profiles. Information about their journalism experience can create trust and build credibility, while some fun facts show a more human, relateable side. This project would be easy to replicate, so take a moment to check: Do your reporters have bios? And would a reader be able to easily find them?
When a reporter from the Christian Science Monitor visited South Korea for the Olympics, she wrote a touching personal observation. The news organization shared it in a newsletter, along with details on the reporter's background that put her thoughts in context.
When a reporter from the Christian Science Monitor visited South Korea for the Olympics, she wrote a touching personal observation. The news organization shared it in a newsletter, along with details on the reporter’s background that put her thoughts in context.
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.