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.
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.”
Content Strategist Jennifer Hefty at the Coloradoan did some math and figured out that the newspaper would need around 20,000 digital-only subscribers to sustain their local newsroom. Once realizing this goal, she was able to mobilize other journalists in the newsroom to help. Hefty asked reporters to state their reasoning and motivation behind their work in two or less sentences. The paper then embedded these statements alongside reporter’s photos and paired them with their stories. It resulted in the paper getting more digital subscribers than daily print subscribers for the first time ever.
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 Day released a series of short videos of newsroom staff talking about their work and sharing how they need their community’s support during the coronavirus outbreak. “If you are someone who has found our coverage interesting, information, sometimes uplifting … if you have benefited from our articles, please consider supporting us by subscribing,” reporter Erica Moser said in one of the videos.
Journalists at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution showed their support of the community by making a video to thank the workers who are helping during the coronavirus outbreak and don’t have the option of staying home. “The Atlanta Journal-Constitution would like to thank all of the people who aren’t able to work from home during the COVID-19 outbreak. We appreciate their sacrifice,” the video reads.
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.
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.
WPCO anchor Evan Millward produced an on-air story explaining how the station was adapting to producing news remotely amid the coronavirus pandemic. He went into detail describing how the different positions in the newsroom were modifying their jobs and let viewers know why some of their daily news segments might look different now that everyone was working from home. “It doesn’t matter if we’re working from our newsroom – or from our kitchen counter,” Millward wrote. “We live in and love Greater Cincinnati, too. We’ve been working for you for years – and no pandemic will stop that commitment.”
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.
The State highlighted reader’s responses by posting a roundup of people’s comments and reactions to popular news stories that week. When the comment was a question about the facts of the news story or how the journalists put the story together, they answered them. Here is one of the responses provided: “Why did we write this story? The public scrutinizes so many aspects of candidates’ work and lives, and journalists make continual judgment calls about what information is interesting and relevant, and therefore worthy of coverage. Reader feedback about those judgment calls is always welcome.”
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
While speaking at an Athletes of the Year banquet, Timothy Dwyer, the publisher at The Day, discussed what the paper offers the community, explained it’s funding model, and invited people to support it financially. “Like any other local business, we need your support,” he said. Appearing at in-person events can help the community see the employees of a news organization (the journalists) as real people, which can help build trust.
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.

 

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
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
If one of your journalists writes a book about a story they have been working on or produces a documentary, highlight it. Two of WCPO's journalists were involved in publishing a book about "Fiona the Hippo," a local zoo animal that has gone viral. The news organization held a book signing and invited their users. More than 100 people attended the event.
If one of your journalists writes a book about a story they have been working on or produces a documentary, highlight it. Two of WCPO’s journalists were involved in publishing a book about “Fiona the Hippo,” a local zoo animal that has gone viral. The news organization held a book signing and invited their users. More than 100 people attended the event.