A Road to Pluralism
This initiative by Trusting News aims help journalists strengthen trust across diverse values, experiences and political views to bridge divides, foster productive conversations and fuel open-mindedness.
Healthy democracies depend on civic dialogue and a shared set of facts. Our team at Trusting News believes local news especially can play an important role in bridging conversations across divides. Our goal is to better understand the societal and psychological forces that influence polarization and perceptions of news.
The work we want journalists to do involves transparency and engagement strategies to explain and defend the integrity and credibility of journalism. It involves self-reflection about how we as journalists contribute to polarization by reinforcing binary positions, oversimplifying complex views, and fueling outrage by focusing on extreme characters. It will also include a look at the ways journalists bring our own assumptions and worldview to our work — in ways that are necessary and/or problematic, and both accidental and by choice. Read more about why we’re deciding to go down this road to pluralism.
Keep reading to find out how you can get involved in our Pluralism Network to drill down on specific challenges and find solutions.
What research tells us
In partnership with the Center for Media Engagement, we set out to better understand a group of people known for distrusting the news. A group of 27 local newsrooms across the country used our interview guide to survey their right-leaning audiences (with a built-in acknowledgment that no political group is monolithic). The research team analyzed 91 interviewees to gather insight on how they view the news.
The discussions revealed specific approaches journalists can take to better connect with their conservative and right-leaning audiences.
View the full report and findings: “How Local Newsrooms Can Better Connect with Conservative and Right-leaning Audiences”
What we’ve learned so far
Based on feedback we heard from the newsrooms we work with and from the experiences of our newsroom partners who conducted the interviews with conservatives in their communities, we developed five projects to test trust building strategies.
In the beginning of 2022, we wrapped up the first five projects of our Road to Pluralism initiative. Here’s what we learned alongside our Pluralism Network on these topics, which represent issues that often cause mistrust:
- We learned insights on how newsrooms can better explain (and sometimes edit) wire coverage while being transparent with their audiences.
- We created a step-by-step guide that walks newsrooms through taking stock of the clarity around their opinion content.
- We also created a guide on how newsrooms can be more transparent when it comes to corrections and make it a building block of earning trust.
- Project partners helped compile a list of interview questions newsrooms can use to help diversify their staffs.
What we’re working on now
We’re building off what we learned in our first phase of projects with two new ones. Participating newsrooms will work on these until July 2022, and we’ll share learnings before the midterm elections.
What strategies or tools could help editors assess whether individual stories are contributing to complexity and curiosity rather than overgeneralizations and polarization? Read more about our anti-polarization checklist, which comes with a $2,000 stipend for participating newsrooms
How can newsrooms incorporate outreach efforts with maximum impact and efficiency to learn about the needs and perceptions of people with low trust in news? Read more about our outreach and listening project, which comes with a $500 stipend for individual participating journalists.
Join the Pluralism Network
Want to get involved but can’t commit to a project right now? We still welcome you to join the network.
Apply to join our Pluralism Network, a private Slack group of like-minded journalists interested in building trust in a polarized world. The network will be a place where journalists can have conversations and collaborate on how they can reach and be trusted by a more diverse audience with fact-based, responsible journalism.
- Learn insights from research related to how political views influence news perceptions
- Hear from journalists who’ve been reaching out to people with low trust
- Share with each other what you’re trying, and see examples of innovative work
- Connect around shared challenges and frustrations
- Contribute to collaborative experiments by adding trust elements to your news content
- Help identify opportunities for related research projects
Please fill out this form with your work email to indicate your interest.
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