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.
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.
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 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.
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.”
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.
Have you ever tried to get in touch with a journalist you did not know personally? We do it all the time. Unfortunately, many news organization websites are so hard to navigate or out of date that searching for the journalist on Twitter or Facebook is much easier. Your audience members won’t be as persistent as we are. Rather than continuing to dig, calling the newsroom or emailing a general email address, they will give up and move on. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here.
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.
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.
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.”
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.

 

 

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
If a member of your community looks you up on social media, what will they learn about what you stand for and value?
Something we are learning at Trusting News is that users make a lot of assumptions about who we are, what we do and why we do things. 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.
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 Tennessean created a video to explain why their editorial board asked for a mayor's resignation. The newsroom said it felt the video format added a lot of value to the message and they enjoyed being able to explain how and why the decision was made instead of just writing a column. The newsroom also went live on Facebook to explain their decision.
The Tennessean created a video to explain why their editorial board asked for a mayor’s resignation. The newsroom said it felt the video format added a lot of value to the message and they enjoyed being able to explain how and why the decision was made instead of just writing a column. The newsroom also went live on Facebook to explain their decision.
The Tennessean went live on Facebook to explain why their editorial board asked for a mayor's resignation. By going live on Facebook the journalists provided users a place to be heard and receive feedback.The newsroom also created a video to explain how and why the decision was made.
The Tennessean went live on Facebook to explain why their editorial board asked for a mayor’s resignation. By going live on Facebook the journalists provided users a place to be heard and receive feedback. The newsroom also created a video to explain how and why the decision was made. 
Screenshot from Reddit, where users are discussing a story shared by Discourse.
Discourse shared links to stories in appropriate subreddits on Reddit. They targeted subreddits that already existed, hoping to capture the attention of people who are already interested in the topic of their story and active on the platform. The news organization received some traction and has been continuing to share their stories in subreddits.
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 hosting a debate, Annenberg Media had to decided who was going to moderate the conversation. The decision was not taken lightly and there was a lot of thought that went into the process. They wanted to make sure they were being fair, unbiased and thinking about diversity while selecting a moderator. To explain their decision process and how they chose a debate moderator, they created a video for Instagram Stories and YouTube.
When hosting a debate, Annenberg Media had to decided who was going to moderate the conversation. The decision was not taken lightly and there was a lot of thought that went into the process. They wanted to make sure they were being fair, unbiased and thinking about diversity while selecting a moderator. To explain their decision process and how they chose a debate moderator, they created a video for Instagram Stories and YouTube.
Behind-the-scenes roles like designers and editors aren't in the public eye as much as reporters--but you can still highlight the many skilled staffers who keep your news operation running. The Jefferson City News Tribune did just that by announcing the promotion of their design editor and sharing her credentials in a link.
Behind-the-scenes roles like designers and editors aren’t in the public eye as much as reporters–but you can still highlight the many skilled staffers who keep your news operation running. The Jefferson City News Tribune did just that by announcing the promotion of their design editor and sharing her credentials in a link.
If your staffers are comfortable with it, take the time to show who they are outside of work. A photo of a Jefferson City News Tribune reporter playing in the community band generated positive responses. Posts like these remind readers that you are real people (not "the media") and that you're their neighbors.
If your staffers are comfortable with it, take the time to show who they are outside of work. A photo of a Jefferson City News Tribune reporter playing in the community band generated positive responses. Posts like these remind readers that you are real people (not “the media”) and that you’re their neighbors.
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.
Are your reporters getting recognized in the journalism world? If so, highlight this good work for your local readers. When a reporter's story was featured by the Investigative Reporters and Editors organization, the Virginian-Pilot highlighted the reporter's work and the real-world impact that resulted from the investigative story.
Are your reporters getting recognized in the journalism world? If so, highlight this good work for your local readers. When a reporter’s story was featured by the Investigative Reporters and Editors organization, the Virginian-Pilot highlighted the reporter’s work and the real-world impact that resulted from the investigative story.
CALmatters took to Twitter to introduce three new staffers and their coverage areas. Framing the news in terms of reader impact (an investment in quality and expanded coverage) kept it from sounding like a stodgy press release, and the news organization said readers responded with excitement.
CALmatters took to Twitter to introduce three new staffers and their coverage areas. Framing the news in terms of reader impact (an investment in quality and expanded coverage) kept it from sounding like a stodgy press release, and the news organization said readers responded with 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.
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.
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.