No one is expecting things to be “normal” for the remainder of 2020, and the upcoming election is no exception. As I talk to friends and family, they have a lot of anxiety and concerns ahead of Election Day due to all the unknowns surrounding it. And it makes sense — this election looks very different from previous elections. As journalists, we obviously can’t quell all unknowns. (Wouldn’t it be nice if we could have some future vision, though?) But what we can do is help manage our audience’s expectations for election night and beyond. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here
While covering recent COVID-19 numbers in their community, the News Tribune posted that the local health department “caved” in releasing numbers related to coronavirus spread. When one of the commenters pointed out that the language sounded biased, editor Gary Castor took the time to respond on Facebook, publically acknowledging it might not have been the best wording: “You are absolutely correct; it was a poor choice of words. I did not see the post before it was sent to Facebook, but after seeing it in my feed, I asked that the verb be changed. The story has since been changed to say the department relented to the repeated requests of the city.”
In order to make voting information easily accessible for readers, the Fulcrum created a voter FAQ that had information about how to make sure voter registration is up-to-date, how to find polling places and what voting rights the public has.
As schools in Philadelphia were having discussions about opening in the fall amidst the coronavirus outbreak, Chalkbeat reached out to its audience to get their feedback on the issue. “Chalkbeat wants to gain perspective from parents, students, and school staff. Tell us your feedback, concerns, and lingering questions below,” the post read.
FiveThirtyEight included a disclaimer alongside an election poll they ran to clarity that while polls can be helpful benchmark ahead of the election, it can’t possibly predict the outcome of any election. “Before we proceed further, one disclaimer about the scope of the model: It seeks to reflect the vote as cast on Election Day, assuming that there are reasonable efforts to allow eligible citizens to vote and to count all legal ballots, and that electors are awarded to the popular-vote winner in each state. It does not account for the possibility of extraconstitutional shenanigans by Trump or by anyone else, such as trying to prevent mail ballots from being counted,” the disclaimer read.
Colorado Public Radio wrote a column about how the newsroom planned to cover the 2020 election. The post starts off strong by addressing the perception that news has an institutional bias. “At CPR News, our mission is to serve all Coloradans, not a partisan sliver. As the election approaches, we wanted to explain more thoroughly what we’re doing to earn your trust every day.” It then lists the questions it will address and links to each, which accomplishes two things: It lets readers on the page skip to a section they’re interested in and it lets the staff use the links to answer specific questions as they come up in stories and social posts.
The News Tribune included an editor’s note at the top of their coverage that stated the newsroom’s mission with their elections content, where to see all the election content, and how to contact the newsroom. “The News Tribune reports on elections to equip community members with the tools they need to participate in democracy. That includes sharing candidates’ positions on important issues and making information about the voting process accessible,” the note reads.
PEN America wrote a guide for how to talk to friends and family who share misinformation, including how to verify information and avoid escalation on social media. “While some people create and spread disinformation—false information shared with the intent to deceive others—your friends and family may well spread misinformation, which is shared by people who may not know the information is false. They probably think the content is true, and they may feel they’re sharing something important. That can make it tough to know how to confront them. Here are a few suggestions.” This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
The Austin Statesman included a statement about their commitment to diversity and included it on the newsroom’s “About Us” page. The statement read: “When reporting a story, we seek out diversity of opinion to tell that story more completely. When provided with information from one source, we consider who might think differently or have additional information that could reveal a clearer picture. We fact-check what people tell us.” This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
WCPO asked their users what they wanted to know from candidates ahead of their elections reporting.”Usually, the journalists are the ones who ask the questions. Especially during election season, when campaigns often tell constituents what the campaigns want to tell them, instead of what the constituents want to hear,” senior reporter Larry Seward wrote in a column about the station’s efforts. “So that’s why we want to flip things around this year. We want to know what YOU want to know. We created the form below so that we could build an engagement map for how our viewers want these campaigns covered.” Seward said the public responses brought up questions for candidates the reporters wouldn’t have otherwise asked.
The Green Bay Press Gazette wrote a story detailing it’s “Letters to the Editor” process ahead of the 2020 Election. In the guidelines, the newsroom states it’s purpose with publishing political letters earlier in the year than they normally would: “We will publish letters to the editor related to local, state and national campaigns. With many citizens voting early, we want the conversation to begin sooner than normal.” This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
With much of the public overwhelmed by news in 2020, it’s important to provide information in accessible ways. Here’s an example of how the Wisconsin Green Bay Press Gazette did that. The newsroom created a voter guide that had all voting and election information in one story that was easy to navigate. In the guide, the newsroom links to voter registration information, endorsements, and previous coverage of candidates and ballot issues. This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
Themes:

Newsroom:
WCPO created an Elections Guide that contained all the basic election information in one place, including how to request a mail-in ballot, how to register to vote, and key dates to know ahead of the election. By providing easy-to-find answers to basic election questions, you can build trust with your users and maybe even pick up new ones.
The Colorado Sun wrote a columnn about their newsroom’s approach to the 2020 elections, which included how they work to be fair, why they are trustworthy and how they decide what election news to cover — and not cover. “Our mission is to inform more than infuriate by telling stories that hold elected officials accountable and help readers better understand what’s happening within the state’s democratic institutions and political arena,” the column reads. “This particularly applies to our 2020 election coverage.” This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
Before the Atlanta Journal-Constitution published Q&A’s with candidates running for open seats in Georgie, they asked their readers to share their questions, they might want to be included in the questionnaires. “What issues are most important to you? And what would you ask candidates if you had the chance? Your suggestions could be included in our questionnaires and/or contribute to other election stories.”
After WCPO decided not to disclose the identity of a student who hosted a party despite being diagnosed with COVID-19, the station’s content manager Ted Wilson wrote a column explaining their decision and the journalism ethics associated with it. “Often, the journalist’s job is not just to report the facts but also to balance the impact of their reporting among all the stakeholders in a story,” Wilson wrote. “In this case, WCPO 9 News chose to report what happened while trying to respect the privacy rights of the accused.”
As journalists, it’s not our job to protect the public from information that is hard to hear or might increase their stress. But it is worth considering whether our journalism contributes to or assuages their anxiety. We can choose to air a highlight reel of chaos, or we can choose to provide calm, measured context. As this year’s election unfolds, that means reminding the public what we expect to see, what is unusual, what safeguards are in place, how long it will likely take for votes to be counted and what they can do to protect their own vote and stay informed. A significant chunk of your audience is probably exhausted by news coverage. Back in February, a Pew Research Center survey showed that two-thirds of U.S. adults are worn out by the news. And it’s fair to say the volume of news hasn’t decreased this year! So, how can journalists respond to that mood in a way that respects the experience of consuming their product? In a crowded, exhausting information landscape, how can your journalism stand out as a responsible, important part of your audience’s information diet? More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here.
How do you decide what to cover? How do you work to be fair? What sources do you trust? When it comes to elections coverage, the kind of transparency we advocate for is especially important. You’re working (really hard, we imagine) to provide a public service and contribute to a healthy democracy, and your audience should know that. Take some inspiration from this FAQ that Colorado Public Radio put together about election coverage. We’ll share some highlights here, but the whole thing is recommended reading. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here.
Many of you probably get accused of having a liberal bias — of publishing more “negative” content about conservative politicians and of reporting more favorably on progressive ideas and candidates. I’m guessing you probably want your audience to know you work hard to be fair. And I am guessing you stand behind your coverage. If so, where’s your evidence? Remember, it’s reasonable for news consumers to be frustrated by partisan information, overwhelmed with choices and confused about what news to trust. It’s laudable for them to ask you to provide evidence of your credibility. Their skepticism and caution are appropriate. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here.
Political polls are a lot to navigate: There are new ones continually. They seem to contradict each other. It’s hard to know which ones to trust, or if we should even bother paying attention. As journalists, we learn how much credence to give polls. We learn to look for independence in the pollsters (financial and political). We inspect their methodology. But are you explaining any of that? Doing so could build trust in your methods and can also help your audience be more educated consumers of polling data. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here.
After facing viewer questions about political ads, WCPO’s general manager Jeff Brogan wrote a column explaining how political advertising works for broadcasters. In the column he explains the FCC rules for political advertising and how the station is legally not allowed to edit or alter ads ads they recieve from candidates. “WCPO 9 and our parent company, E.W. Scripps, support the freedom of speech principles of the First Amendment, which emphasize a robust and open debate about the political process,” Brogan writes. “Although some of today’s political action committees might use aggressive tactics during the campaign season, their ads fall under free speech and have a right to be on a broadcast.”
During election season, people can be inundated with political advertisements — from candidates, parties, PAC’s and other groups. If you publish or air any of these ads (which most news organizations do) you probably have received complaints about them from your users. Some may be confused as to why this is showing up on your station. Others may be upset about the content inside the ads. And they might be jumping to incorrect or unfair conclusions about you. While some people may understand that your news organization is airing or publishing the ads just as you would with any other business (a car dealership or ice cream shop), too many people don’t actually understand how it works. They may have questions like: Why are you choosing to run ads from certain groups? Are the ads edited or changed before you air or publish them? Do you get the final say in what you publish/air? Is anyone fact-checking them? More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here.
As election season quickly approaches, there is a lot of information (and misinformation) floating around. So have you asked your audience what they might be confused about when it comes to participating in the upcoming election? Maybe you’ve posted to Twitter or Facebook asking users to share general questions or thoughts related to the election, which is one avenue for getting feedback or story ideas. But another great way to open up a conversation with your audience and remind them you’re a community resource is to ask for specific questions — and then answer those questions in real-time. Because of all the recent confusion and conflicting information surrounding voting by mail, staff at The Fulcrum decided they wanted to provide clarity around the issue. So reporters Sara Swann and Bill Theobald hosted a Reddit AMA, or Ask Me Anything, where they asked their readers what questions they had about voting by mail and voting in general during COVID times. The duo ended up responding to dozens of thoughtful reader questions, ranging from how long it could take to get results to what protocols are being put into place to safeguard the voting by mail process. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here.
How do you describe conspiracy theories like QAnon to your audience? How about candidates for office who amplify or adhere to those theories? This is tricky territory for journalists. As the American Press Institute’s Susan Benkelman wrote last week: If you are in the business of trying to publish what’s true, how do you treat things that are untrue without amplifying them? When is the right time to write about them and what is the right way to describe them accurately? How do you decide which ones are not worth debunking and which are? In an age of social media, how do you do all this without inadvertently encouraging the spread of falsehoods? Benkelman’s piece is full of concrete advice and example language to use when making coverage decisions about dangerous, false messages. (As a reminder, Trusting News is a project of both API and the Reynolds Journalism Institute.) The piece also links to a running list of congressional candidates who have embraced QAnon’s messaging, sorted by state. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here.
At Trusting News, we’re often asked by newsrooms how we know our strategies work. It’s an important question. We’re always happy to point to examples of what newsrooms say is effective but we’re also especially grateful when we have the chance to work with academic researchers. Through a series of focus groups, Trusting News and the Center for Media Engagement found that TV newsrooms can build trust with their audiences by explaining why a story is covered, providing additional resources at the end of stories and inviting audience participation. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here.
At Trusting News, we think it’s vitally important that our industry understand people’s perceptions of journalism and the climate in which our work is consumed. Only when we do that can we proactively correct the narrative around our work. Thanks to researchers, we’re able to point to data, not just gut feelings, when we try to make sense of what people think of us and our work. We’ve pulled together a few key facts about how news is perceived. We hope this will be useful as you consider your election coverage. You can find more curated facts about trust in news in this slide deck. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here.

 

During major news situations, like the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s easy for audiences to feel overwhelmed and then tune out. The LAist countered this by providing one spot with contextualized information and answers to basic questions about the pandemic all in one place, making it so users don’t have to sift through a bunch of different updates to find the most relevant and important information.
Josie Hollingsworth, the engagement editor for Politifact, created a video that explained to users how the organization decides what to fact-check. Hollingsworth said people frequently ask the Politifact team how they pick which claims to fact check, so now going forward, their team can quickly link to the video whenever the question comes up.
While reporting on a controversial police killing of an unarmed black man, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution included a note explaining their approach to covering the story: “Given the intense public interest in the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks by Atlanta police officer Garrett Rolfe and how this incident may factor into policy changes and decisions on policing, the AJC has committed to providing the fullest, most complete coverage possible. That includes looking at the actions and backgrounds of both Rolfe and Brooks and how those may have shaped their encounter on Friday night … We will publish more information as soon as we can evaluate what is accurate and relevant, and give the material context, as is our usual practice.”
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.

 

Part of being a trusted news source is reliably providing the information people most need. That might seem obvious to say, but it’s worth reflecting on these days. Many people are feeling an enormous level of confusion when making basic decisions and are struggling to understand the state of the world. They are balancing national news coverage with what they see in their own communities and wading through conflicting and contradicting versions of reality. As journalists, we can’t always share facts that bring clarity. Sometimes, our reporting reveals just how much isn’t known. But we can demonstrate that we are paying focused, prolonged attention to the questions that matter most. We can organize our pandemic coverage around ways to shed light on what is known and not known about the status of COVID-19 in your coverage area. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here. 
Station WEWS in Cleveland wrote a story directly addressing that misinformation was being spread on social media around how deaths related to COVID-19 were being reported. In the article, the newsroom tried to set the record straight by breaking down how reporters got information from the CDC and explaining how the county was tracking coronavirus cases and deaths. The station also reminded the public that neither health officials nor the media were trying to manipulate case numbers: “Despite what you may read in comments sections and on some questionably-sourced websites, health agencies are not conspiring to over-report or under-report COVID-19 deaths; their goal is to accurately report the disease’s impact on our communities.” This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
ProPublica sent out a newsletter to the people who have supported them financially that talked directly about political bias in news. The organization’s president Richard Tofel, who penned the newsletter, shared that yes, the newsroom has written more stories critical of President Trump than President Obama, and went on to explain in detail why that’s the case. Tofel also was very transparent about what ProPublica’s audience looked like (that it tends to be more liberal) and why they wish they had more conservative and non-white readers. “ProPublica would be more effective if our readership contained a proportion of people of color closer to the population of the country, and if it contained a similar proportion of self-identified conservatives,” Tofel wrote. This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
Most of us have probably been told that we are one-sided in our coverage. It’s a common complaint, and it can be a tough one to reply to. Especially when it comes to political coverage, we try hard to be fair. Yet those efforts often go unnoticed. The interesting thing is that when we consider what balanced coverage looks like, we are often thinking about it over time. We think about how we interviewed the family of the victim shot last week. So, if we talk to gun rights activists today, we do not necessarily need to hear from gun violence victims again in the same story. But, for the user, who most likely did not see the story from last week, but did see today’s, they may think we are siding with the gun rights activists because they are not hearing from all sides in one story. Despite the steps we take to produce responsible, ethical journalism every day, we’re often not getting credit for those efforts. We don’t draw enough ties between our entire body of coverage. We don’t point out the consistency in our approach, the thoughtfulness behind our decisions or the pains we take to represent multiple sides of an issue fairly. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here. 
At the beginning of Georgia’s Legislative session, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote an article explaining how they were planning on covering the legislature. In the story, they clearly state why it’s important to dedicate so many newsroom resources to the coverage, and also explained why they would be focusing more Republican initiatives. “Both chambers of the Legislature are controlled by Republicans, and the governor and other statewide leaders are also Republicans. That means that issues and bills they push have a far greater chance of becoming law,” the article reads. “As a result, we typically write more stories examining and vetting Republican initiatives than we do bills sponsored by Democrats if they have little chance of passing. When Democrats controlled the Legislature before 2003, the reverse was true.”
While reporting on the House impeachment vote again President Trump, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution included a box on the front page of its print paper that clearly stated how they were striving to provide fair coverage. “To ensure our impeachment coverage continues to be balanced, we used the same format on the front page and on A7 for the Senate vote as we did the House vote on Dec. 18,” the box read.
Consuming news can be overwhelming, especially during the COVID-19 outbreak when there seems to be an almost constant stream of updates from various different media outlets. The Philadelphia Inquirer addressed this directly by publishing an article about how the public can be smarter about finding trustworthy news during the pandemic. It included information from media literacy experts, a list of resources for sorting through potentially false or misleading news and strategies to help their users become smarter news consumers. “During a crisis, especially one that affects our lives and livelihoods, it makes sense that we want to know everything. But the quality of information is more important than the quantity,” the article reminded readers. This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.

 

When faced with major advertising dollars lost during the coronavirus pandemic, journalists at The Day decided they needed to be direct with their audience and explain their bottom line. The newsroom ended up implementing multiple new strategies to share their mission and need for support from their community, which included additional subscription asks when they made COVID-19 stories free and personalized video pleas from reporters. Here’s what multimedia director Peter Huoppi had to say: “We knew the coronavirus was going to affect our company, but we didn’t realize how quickly things would change and how profound the effects would be. As the weeks went by, we realized we had to step outside of our comfort zone and talk more directly about our bottom line … It’s resulted in more money and reader subscriptions, which will allow us to continue to report on important issues and keep people informed.”
VOX media included a note at the bottom of a story related to the coronavirus outbreak that talked about the organization’s values and then tied it to an ask for user’s support. “Our mission has never been more vital than it is in this moment: to empower you through understanding. Vox’s work is reaching more people than ever, but our distinctive brand of explanatory journalism takes resources — particularly during a pandemic and an economic downturn,” the editor’s note says. “Your financial contribution will not constitute a donation, but it will enable our staff to continue to offer free articles, videos, and podcasts at the quality and volume that this moment requires.” This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
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.
Consuming the news is an overwhelming experience. I realize that it feels like we could have said that every day since the 2016 election season, but with coronavirus added to the mix, there is legitimately a lot to know. It’s also true that paying continual attention to breaking news alerts is exhausting. A recent Pew Research Center study found that 71 percent of Americans say they need to take breaks from COVID-19 news, and 43 percent say keeping up with the news makes them feel worse emotionally. We’re also headed into a season of potentially less dramatic coronavirus updates, with new cases and deaths slowing. And as people head into summer (and the temptation to take a break from reality), the tendency to check out from news updates could be high. It’s possible, of course, to find a middle ground — one that helps us stay informed without being consumed by and alarmed by repetitive updates. We can help our communities do that. Journalists can offer a path through the news that avoids both extremes. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here. 
Like many businesses, news organizations are struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Financial creativity and cutbacks might be required, and new revenue streams can help keep the lights on. But news organizations are in a situation that other businesses are not: While they might need and qualify for outside financial support, they are also expected to fairly cover the business impact of the virus. As a journalist in a newsroom, you likely don’t have control over whether your newsroom accepts a loan from the government or applies for grants from a foundation or company. What journalists CAN control (or at least advocate for) is being transparent about any funds received. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here. 
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.
While other news sources were reporting the names of those who were violating Cincinnati’s stay-at-home violations, WPCO Senior Director Mike Canan took the opportunity to differentiate his newsroom’s approach from the competition. Instead of publishing specific names, Canan said he “challenged our team to do more. I wanted context on how law enforcement was making these decisions and what the data was showing. Ultimately, one person’s name is less important to the community as the pattern of behavior,” Canan wrote. “What we found is that mostly the people involved committed other crimes and police simply tacked the stay-at-home violation on.” Canan shared this information in a series of tweets while linking to the story.
As rumors swirled that local journalists had altered photos of beaches reopening in Florida during the coronavirus pandemic, reporter Vic Micolucci of WJXT4 in Jacksonville decided to address accusations directly in a Facebook post. Micolucci included several images and explained the differences between them based on angle, camera and lens choices. “Kindly lay off local journalists working hard to cover a situation. I can assure you almost all of us, my competitors included, have good, honest intentions of keeping you informed and safe, Micolucci wrote. “A helicopter shot looks different from a drone shot which looks different from a telephoto shot which looks different from a smart phone shot. The optics are different. The angles are different. As your car mirrors say, objects may appear further than they are. Use your best judgement.” This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
When accusations of local journalists altering a photo at a rally were being widely spread on Facebook, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote a story that gave a step-by-step look at their reporting process and what actually happened. The story explains how the rumors started, why they gained traction and ends with a plea to the public to help the paper correct misinformation if readers see the rumors on social media. “It is unethical and a violation of Journal Sentinel policy to alter, manipulate or change a news photograph in any way beyond basic toning for reproduction,” the story states. “The Journal Sentinel asks people of goodwill to share the truth about this photo if they see false accusations being shared by friends on their Facebook feeds or other social networks.”
Newsrooms hear a lot of accusations that they use photos and videos to misrepresent or even manipulate reality. We’ve heard from journalists lately wondering whether it’s best to ignore or respond to accusations of “fake news” and photo or video manipulation. We’ve also seen confusion and misassumptions in our own social networks and in comments on news stories when it comes to telling what’s real. Here’s what we at Trusting News want newsrooms to remember in those situations: It’s fair for news consumers to be skeptical. They shouldn’t automatically believe what they see, and it’s genuinely tricky to know which news brands are trustworthy. (Some aren’t.) No one but you is going to explain what makes your own work credible. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here.
After receiving some negative feedback about a story covering a controversial political meme, PA Post editor Russ Walker directly addressed the community concerns in a column. In the post, Walker reminded users of the newsroom’s mission and commitment to providing balanced election coverage of both parties while also explaining why the paper decided to cover this story in the first place. “The staff at PA Post knows we are heading into a contentious election year. While our focus is on covering policy and how government actions affect Pennsylvania citizens, we’ll also be watching the messages and campaign tactics of both parties. How campaigns are waged can tell us — the voters — a lot about how a candidate or party will govern,” Walker wrote. This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
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.
In a story about presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar, the San Fransisco Chroncicle inserted language in the story to tell readers how and why they were covering Democratic presidential candidates, and how the paper was striving to provide equal coverage. “The Chronicle is examining how California would look if the major Democratic presidential candidates were elected and could implement their top policy priorities,” the box read. “Candidates’ positions are taken from their websites, their campaign comments, and in some cases legislation they have sponsored in office.”
In partnership with the Solutions Journalism Network, the Atlantic-Journal constitution shifted the focus of its editorial pages to be more solutions-based during the coronavirus outbreak. Managing editor Mark Waligore explained the change in a column, saying that with politics becoming more polarized, the paper wanted to shift its focus on solving community problems during the pandemic. “Given all that has happened, we believe the changes we’ve made to the Opinion pages are the right approach at the right time,” Waligore wrote. “We hope they can serve as a gathering spot, of sorts. A place to share your personal stories. A place to swap ideas and look for answers. A place that brings us together, rather than divides us.”
After intially lifting the paywall on all coronavirus-related stories, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram decided that as the pandemic went on, the newsroom would start putting some additional stories behind the paywall. Editor Steve Coffman wrote a column explaining the change in clear, straightforward language that told readers about the paper’s funding model while also expressing the paper’s need for support: “This is a matter of survival for the Star-Telegram and other local newspapers,” Coffman wrote. “We have taken a significant revenue hit due to the coronavirus on the advertising side, which is reflective of the struggles local businesses face.”
In breaking news situations, we all know that the information we are reporting is the most accurate and best information we have at that moment. But, have we helped our audience navigate fast-changing information? At Trusting News, we have shared with you how some newsrooms try to make this point clear in their reporting. While covering COVID-19, probably the biggest breaking news story of our time, we should all be working to make sure our users are alerted to this fact. We should also be working to help them understand why this is the case. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here.
After facing accusations that a photojournalist altered a photo that showed a closed beach packed with people during the coronavirus pandemic, the Caller-Times wrote a column exculpating the photo. “We often face criticism and recognize people are entitled to opinions about what and how we cover the news. It comes with the territory. It also doesn’t change the facts. That’s why we typically let it roll on by and focus on what’s important: informing our community,” editor Mary Ann Cavazos Beckett wrote. “But when several people continued to spread false information about how and when the beach photo was taken it became concerning.” Beckett also explained and linked to the paper’s ethics policy and mission statement, reminding their audience of the paper’s commitment to accuracy and the community.
The NYTimes added an editor’s note to the top of the story about parenting during the coronavirus pandemic to explain how the latest advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention might change. “As coronavirus continues to spread across the globe, we’re working to answer the questions on many parents’ minds. This is a fast-moving situation, so some information may be outdated,” the note read. “For the latest updates, read The New York Times’s live coronavirus coverage here.” This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
After getting questions and complaints from readers, WEWS used clear language to explain to viewers why the numbers of people who recover from COVID-19 aren’t shared alongside the death counts in Ohio. Digital producer Ian Cross wrote a column to explain: “So to answer the question: There is no conspiracy by the media to suppress good news about the coronavirus, as some have suggested. It’s a simple matter of available data.” This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
The Toronto Star updated how it displayed its opinion content in order to help readers distinguish opinion stories from news. The changes included clearer labels as well as a glossary that defined the different types of analysis and columns their audience would see in their editorial pages. “We are trying to help be a place that can help cut through the confusion and inaccuracies,” Star editor Irene Gentle wrote. This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do. 
NPR created an internal checklist for its journalists to ensure their reporting is as accurate as possible. The checklist is a list of items reporters and producers should double-check before handing the story off to an editor, such as name spellings, dates, and titles. A training document publically published online also included clear information as to how NPR journalists should alert an editor when a correction needed to be made. “The checklist that follows is a reminder of things we all know we should do,” former Standards & Practices editor Mark Memmott wrote. “We know we will make mistakes. But we all need to do what we can to reduce them.” This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
NPR changed it’s online design in its opinion section so that it was easier for users to spot what was news content and what was opinion content. The changes included using more straightforward language to describe the different kinds of opinion content and placing the author’s credentials in a more prominent position. “NPR does not have a separate place for opinion pieces (unlike newspapers, say, which segregate such content on the editorial pages), so it’s particularly important that such content is obvious to readers when it appears on the NPR home page or on a mobile app or in a social media feed,” a column explaining the change read. This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
The Philadelphia Inquirer redesigned its opinion pages in the paper so that it was easier for their audience to read and understand the difference between news and opinion content. The changes included a glossary that explained the difference between editorials, op-eds and columns, as well as updated labels that helped clarify for readers which stories were news, and which ones were opinion. This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
With COVID-19 consuming daily life, it could seem strange to see a non-pandemic related investigation published by a news organization. NPR addressed this situation directly when publishing an investigation into recycling. They adding an editor’s note at the top of the story that read, “NPR will be publishing stories from this investigative series in the weeks ahead, even as we focus our current coverage on the coronavirus pandemic. But here’s a look at some of our key findings. You can watch the full documentary film from this investigation on the PBS series Frontline.” This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
News station KVRR and the North Dakota Department of Health teamed up to bring a health expert on a Facebook Live to answer user questions about the COVID-19 outbreak. The station then featured parts of the Facebook Live in their newscast. During the newscast, the anchors acknowledged that many people were asking questions on their social media page about the pandemic, and then let users know they were attempting to answer those questions by bringing the expert back to do a Q&A. This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
Buzzfeed used an editor’s note at the top of their stories related to the coronavirus pandemic to remind their readers of their mission of providing trustworthy news. They also used the opportunity to ask users for their audience’s financial support. “The journalists at BuzzFeed News are proud to bring you trustworthy and relevant reporting about the coronavirus,” the note read. “To help keep this news free, become a member and sign up for our newsletter.” This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.

 

Several things are true at this strange moment. Our lives feel upside down. People are worried about their health and have a heightened desire to stay informed. The economy is in turmoil. Journalists are stressed and pressed for time (or furloughed or laid off). The financial part of the news business is in a weakened state just when people need journalism most. All of this happening in an information landscape that is complicated and full of pitfalls for both news consumers and journalists. People are skeptical of journalism — sometimes for fair reasons and sometimes based on misassumptions and ignorance about how journalism operates. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here.
The editor of the Atlanta Journal Constitution Kevin Riley wrote a column explaining how the news organization’s coverage had changed since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak. “This situation has inspired some important changes at the AJC. I hope you’ve noticed those in the newspaper and at our website. And we, like so many of you, have had to change the way we work.” They highlighted their mission statement, pointed out how their print paper has changed to include more puzzles, a coloring page and a guide to help readers make the most of their time at home.
A month ago, the 2020 election season was consuming national and local news coverage. And now? While the campaigns are continuing and the election is just a little over six months away, the arrival of COVID-19 in the United States has changed that focus. These days, everyone is just trying to survive. They are depending on their local news organizations to help them navigate the uncertainty they see all around them. People want questions answered about their very livelihood. They are losing their jobs and want to know where to go for help with car and rent payments, unemployment and groceries. And journalists (like you) are stepping up. You’re providing them the information they need, and you’re doing it while your own lives have also been turned upside down. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here.
CalMatters engaged with their audience during the coronavirus pandemic by asking readers for their questions through a Google form at the bottom of their stories. They asked: “What questions do you have about the state of California’s response to the coronavirus pandemic?” The newsroom also linked to an FAQ where they compiled answers to previous reader questions about the virus, showing readers they valued their questions and feedback enough to follow up.
Both the editor and publisher of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote a column sharing their approach of how the newsroom would be covering the coronavirus pandemic. The columns explained how jobs were changing and adapting to keep employees safe, and reminded the audience of their commitment to fact-based reporting. “A big part of our job during these uncertain times is to provide you with useful and accurate information so that you can reduce your risk and protect others. We hope to arm you with fact-based information so that you can best protect yourselves and those around you.”
WCPO launched a new series called Act of Kindness to highlight positive things happening in Cincinnati during the coronavirus outbreak. “When I am out speaking in the community, I tell people every corner of our community is neither all bad or all good. Our job as journalists is to paint that picture accurately,” news director Mike Canon wrote when speaking to the station’s breadth of coverage. “That remains true when it comes to the impact of COVID-19. There’s a lot of darkness out there. But there are also everyday people doing heroic things to help their neighbors. We have a responsibility to tell you those stories — in addition to the stories about the virus’s impact.” By highlighting the positive stories they cover, it helps the station remind their audience that they do more than just report on negative news.
Tell your audience directly that your news outlet doesn’t celebrate covering big crises like the COVID-19 outbreak. Editor of the Arizona Daily Star, Jill Jordan Spitz, did this through a column where she reminded their audience that the journalists were dedicated to covering the coronavirus outbreak because of their commitment to serving the city. “No, we are not loving this,” Spitz writes. “But covering events that hurt our community does not make us happy — and contrary to what some people seem to believe, it does not make us money.” The column went onto explain how the virus spread has affected the paper’s bottom line and contrary to some public belief, was actually decreasing funding for the paper.
The editor at the Coloradoan Eric Larsen wrote a column directly talking to readers about how the newsroom is responding to coronavirus — and how much they need their community’s support. “Like you, we’re weary from the myriad changes the last two weeks have brought. But our dedication to serve Fort Collins and our surrounding communities is steadfast. We will not waver,” Larsen wrote. “…here’s a quick look at the steps we’re taking to ensure Fort Collins and Northern Colorado stay informed and healthy amid the coronavirus pandemic.”
The Virginian-Pilot and Daily Press started a series called The Helper where they highlight people and groups who are stepping up to help others during the coronavirus outbreak. By reporting on positive news that uplifts the community, it shows the organization’s breadth of work, as well as their commitment to their community.
In light of the coronavirus pandemic, The Tennessean’s opinion editor David Plazas started a video series to continue bringing interviews and insights from experts to the public. Their goal is to interview some of the people who write guest opinion stories for them on a weekly basis. “As an opinion and engagement editor, I typically am out and about in the community, attending events and meetings, and moderating debates and discussions. Self-quarantining in the age of the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak has made that impossible for the time being. That is why on Tuesday we launched the new Tennessee Voices videocast,” the story reads. “Our opinion team continues to publish guest columns daily by thoughtful innovators, creators and leaders in the community to keep readers connected.”
The Daily Telegraph wrote an article explaining that the World Health Organization had deemed it safe to touch newspapers. “Your health and wellbeing are of the utmost importance to us, and if you are wondering if it is safe to get the paper delivered, the answer is yes,” the article stated. “According to the World Health Organization, it has been deemed safe to receive packages such as newspapers, even from areas that have reported cases of COVID-19.” This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do
At the bottom of a story related to the coronavirus pandemic, The Guardian included an editor’s note about how they are covering the virus outbreak. In the note, they explained their mission and commitment to factual, accurate reporting. “We have upheld our editorial independence in the face of the disintegration of traditional media – with social platforms giving rise to misinformation, the seemingly unstoppable rise of big tech and independent voices being squashed by commercial ownership,” the note read. “Our journalism is free from commercial and political bias – never influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This makes us different. It means we can challenge the powerful without fear and give a voice to those less heard.” This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
The editor of the Bozeman Chronicle Nick Ehli wrote a column explaining how economic changes during the coronavirus outbreak were impacting the paper’s bottom line. He explained in a transparent and straightforward tone that the paper had lost a significant amount of advertising money and how that was affecting the hours his reporters were able to work. “…out parent company, the Adams Publishing Group, this week ordered a top-to-bottom partial furlough for all of its employees. This means that — for the time being — our journalists will be working fewer hours than they were before. I’d like to tell you that you won’t notice any changes, that we will be able to cover our community with the same vigor you’ve hopefully come to expect, but that simply wouldn’t be true,” Ehli wrote. “Reporters and photographers working 30 hours a week instead of 40 will produce less content. There is no way around that fact.” 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.”
Food editor Ligaya Figueras at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote an article explaining how their food coverage would be changing amid the coronavirus outbreak. Figueras writes: “In this time of uncertainty, one thing is certain: We all still need to eat … The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s food and dining team is committed to keeping you as informed as possible so that you can feed your families safely, and enjoy your time together at the stove and table.” The column goes onto explain how the paper would be dropping restaurant reviews, shifting coverage to restaurants that are remaining open and highlighting recipes readers could cook from home.
In a story highlighting “fake news” about animals amid the coronavirus outbreak, National Geographic included an editor’s note that alerted readers to online tools they could use to help verify if photos are real or have been altered. “If a post seems too good to be true, check social media to see if anyone else has already debunked it,” the note read. By telling readers how to spot altered photos, they are establishing that they don’t support “fake” news and are actively trying to quell misinformation. This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
We all know how much information is out there right now because a lot of you are working around the clock to produce it. COVID-19 is a breaking news story that has continued and will continue for weeks and months. But just as you are working to produce credible stories that can help save lives, there are other people sharing links that are totally false or contain misinformation. You may think, what does the misinformation have to do with me and my journalism? What should you do about it? Well, you could ignore it (though at Trusting News we don’t recommend that and explain why here). But what if the misinformation is being shared in a Facebook group you manage, underneath a link you posted on social media or on comments on your news story? More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here.
During hectic breaking news coverage, social media is often a go-to place for the latest information, live streams, questions, answers and, unfortunately, misinformation. At Trusting News, we always encourage newsrooms to engage with their users, but now it may be more important than ever. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here.
The Bangor Daily News in Maine used an editors note in a newsletter to share their reporting goals and mission during the coronavirus pandemic. The newsroom reminded the public that they didn’t want to cause panic, but instead, wanted to “gather facts, dispel myths and address your information needs,” the note read. “We will clearly detail what is known and not known about the virus, the illness it causes, and risks to Mainers. We seek answers to the questions that only a local news source can ask.” This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
The Columbus Dispatch shared their mission and dedication to accurate, fair reporting by adding an editor’s note at the top of their coverage related to the COVID-19 outbreak. “With our coronavirus coverage, our goal is not to alarm you but to give you the information you need. We want to keep things in context in order to help you make decisions,” the note read. “You can find all of our stories here. These are being provided for free as a public service to our readers during the coronavirus outbreak. Please support local journalism by subscribing…” This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
WPCO in Cincinnati included an editor’s note at the top of their Coronavirus coverage that shared their mission and goals for reporting on this pandemic with their audience. “With our coronavirus coverage, our goal is not to alarm you but to equip you with the information you need,” the note read. “We will try to keep things in context and focus on helping you make decisions. See a list of resources and frequently asked questions at the end of this story.”
In a community Facebook group run by the Coloradoan, the newsroom told users they would not be allowing posts that included speculation or misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic. “We will be removing posts that are purely speculation regarding coronavirus,” the post read. “These unconfirmed bits of information can add to public panic and hysteria. We want folks to have confirmed, reliable information. If you have a news tip or are hearing something you’d like to share, send us a private message.” By moderating comments for misinformation, it shows your audience you’re committed to accuracy and getting the facts straight.
The Day in Connecticut made a video explaining why they were offering all their coronavirus coverage for free while reminding the audience of the need for their support. “While we’re providing free access to these articles, they are not free to produce,” the video stated. “The newsroom is working long hours to provide the news and information you need during this health emergency.” The video went on to include directions on how to subscribe to the paper, as well as explained some of the benefits of subscribing, like being able to access the daily E-Newspaper.
Editor of the San Francisco Chronicle Audrey Cooper wrote a column telling their audience that while their journalists and entire news operation were working remotely, they were still just as committed to providing accurate, timely news to the community. “It’s critical that we be there to make sure that you have the information you need to make decisions about what’s right for your family and for your community, ” Cooper wrote. “Whether we are recording podcasts from under a sound-dulling blanket fort (yes, I did that), conducting interviews in a child’s closet among stuffed animals (as reporter Matthias Gafni did), or updating the live updates story while batting away a persistent cat (thanks, Lauren Hernández), we will do everything we can to ensure we provide you with the news now and well after the crisis is over.”
The Coloradoan sent a newsletter to subscribers sharing their plan for how they were going to keep the community informed during the coronavirus pandemic. “This pandemic is a public health crisis the likes of which many of our journalists have never covered before,” content strategies Jennifer Hefty wrote. “We are learning as we go and trying our best to provide critical information without spreading panic.”
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.
The San Fransisco Chronicle reminded their readers of their commitment to serving their community by adding a bot, called the assignment editor, to their home page and some stories. The bot allows users to ask questions related to the Coronavirus pandemic. “Life in the Bay Area has been upended by the coronavirus pandemic,” the prompt reads. “Tell us the questions you want answered, and the issues you think we should be investigating.” The team can then use the responses to write stories or use the information to make coverage decisions.
WCPO in Cinncinati shared part of their reporting process with their audience by adding a line in their on-air coverage about how they were using video shot by the restaurant because they could not go inside due to COVID-19. “We can’t bring you this story the traditional way we would,” the anchor said. “La Soupe has asked us to stay out of their kitchen for obvious reasons, but they did offer to shoot video of food prep themselves, and that’s what you’ll be seeing in this story.” The explanation flowed well with the story and did not disrupt the storytelling.
The Christian Science Monitor reminded their audience of their mission during the coronavirus outbreak by asking for feedback in a simple Tweet that read: “The Christian Science Monitor is committed to covering the coronavirus pandemic. How are we doing? What coverage do you need right now? Let us know.”
WCPO in Cinncinati wrote a column explaining how they were adjusting their programming so their journalists could practice safe social distancing. The column made clear how it would affect the work of their employees and the programming the audience would see. “Some of these changes might impact the quality of our newscasts or online news sources. They might not look as polished as they normally do, and we would always rather interview people in person,” the column read. “But we are willing to make these sacrifices because we feel strongly that we need to do our part to prevent the spread of the virus and to keep our employees healthy.”
WMAR-2 News in Baltimore wrote a story explaining how their programming would change to keep their newsroom and journalists safe during the COVID-19 outbreak. The station ended the column by asking for questions and news tips from the audience, saying: “We can’t do this without you. Please tell us what is going on in your community.” This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
WEWS in Cleveland posted a column sharing why the station was focusing so much of its coverage on the coronavirus spread and addressed accusations from readers that they were stoking panic and fear in the community. “Balancing our coronavirus coverage in a way that attempts to reflect reality is something we’ve been discussing over here a lot. We’re quite aware that there’s a way to report this story that makes it sound like the world is coming to an end,” Digital Director Joe Donatelli wrote. “Our focus right now is on reporting the overall impact, government management and the human element of this public health threat in a manner that raises public awareness.” The post also discussed how social media algorithms can impact the type of news content you see in your social feeds. This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.

 

As the coronavirus outbreak spread and the number of news updates increased, the Coloradoan reminded their audience of their mission to keep the public informed. They did this by putting an editor’s note at the top of their coverage: “As the coronavirus outbreak continues to evolve, we don’t want you to panic. In fact, quite the opposite, ” the note read. “That’s why the Coloradoan is committed to providing you with accurate, up-to-date information so you can make informed decisions on issues affecting you and the people you love.” The editor’s note also let readers know they were providing all content related to the coronavirus for free as a community service, but they also directly asked readers to support their important work by subscribing to the paper.
Man, there are a lot of coronavirus updates flying around these days. There’s so much to know and understand, and there’s sure not a shortage of news stories. But we know that access to more stories doesn’t always make people feel more informed. Often, it’s the opposite. You might be in a newsroom that sees its mission as sharing every new fact and every new angle in real time. Perhaps that’s why people turn to you in the first place. But for some of you — especially in local news — it’s worth stepping back and thinking about what role you play. In a crowded news ecosystem full of constant, repetitive, overwhelming updates, what do you offer? Some newsrooms are having conversations about focusing on the larger context, and on information that helps people make decisions about their own lives. If you’re in one of them, congratulations! It sounds like the mission of your coverage is clear. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here.
Ask any opinion journalist this question: Do you get complaints from your audience that your work is biased? In our experience, the answer is almost certainly going to be yes. Accusations of bias are so ubiquitous that it’s no longer widely understood that some journalism is actually designed to persuade. See this comment, from a user survey one of our newsroom partners conducted: “Change the restaurant reviewer; she’s very biased.” You mean you noticed that the person hired to tell you what she thinks of restaurants is sharing her opinion? It’s easy to be frustrated by that misunderstanding, and it’s tempting to roll our eyes and move on with our day. But think about the fact that a significant subset of readers think opinions are accidentally creeping into your news coverage, rather than understanding that you’re paying journalists to share their opinion. The report highlights the experiences and advice of editors like Joel Christopher. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here
To be more transparent about where opinion content comes from and who’s writing it, the editorial board at the Corpus Christi (Texas) Caller-Times put an editor’s note at the top of an opinion piece noting that the state representative was invited to write the piece, and explained why. “We invited Rep. Jeff Leach, author of Proposition 4, to write this column in response to a column by the Center for Public Policy Priorities. The CPPP, which also wrote at our invitation, opposes the proposition, as do we,” the board wrote.
Science News created an FAQ page sharing how they report on science stories, explaining everything from their sourcing process to how they fact-check stories. “Our standards and processes are essential to what we do, and we believe they should be as transparent and accessible as the stories we publish,” the FAQ states. The top of the page also invites readers into the conversation by sharing how they can reach out with questions or suggestions.
KPRC 2 shared the station’s guidelines on how they cover crime. By publishing these standards the station is able to link to this when future questions arise and can update it if their policy changes. “We want you to know that often the details of the story and crime dictate how we might approach covering an incident, so our approach may not always be the same in each case,” the guidelines read.
When reporting on elections, sharing how you’re striving to provide fair and balanced coverage can be a powerful way to earn trust with your audience. Before President Trump made a campaign stop in Cincinnati, WPCO wrote an article explaining the station’s policy on covering candidates ahead of the 2020 election. The station was transparent about it’s guidelines and acknowledged how coverage would be different from past election cycles. “We know this is a controversial decision for some of our audience, but we wanted to let you know that we took great care in trying to make a fair decision for our community,” Senior Director Mike Canan wrote.

 

At Trusting News we’ve talked a lot about how important labeling opinion content is. We hope you agree with us, and we’ll keep talking about it. But truly transparent practices around opinion pieces need to go further than labeling. What if you told your audience whose opinion is being shared? Or why this person’s opinion is being shared? 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
When President Trump launched a Twitter attack against Baltimore last month, The opinion staff at The Baltimore Sun clapped back, with an editorial headlined “Better to have a few rats than to be one.” But, did people understand the distinction of where the views and message in the editorial came from? We’re not so sure, and here’s why. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here
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
Themes:
Story topic:

Newsroom:
It’s not uncommon for users to question why a newsroom is covering specific teams and to assume the staff is showing preference. Responding to those questions publicly can help demystify the story selection process for the commenter and for anyone else who is reading. The Day offered an explanation in a comment here that discussed the need to plan ahead and the newsworthiness of a specific team.
Themes:
During the State of the Union address, WUSA’s Verify team fact-checked the speech as it happened — on Facebook Live. People were able to watch the team of journalists reacting to the speech and checking the President’s claims.
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.
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.
WUSA took time to highlight their coverage of stop and frisk laws in Washington, D.C. in their on-air broadcast. In highlighting their work, they also asked people to contact them if they have been stopped and frisked and then reminded their users: "our reporting is only as strong as the community we're honored to serve."
WUSA took time to highlight their coverage of stop and frisk laws in Washington, D.C. in their on-air broadcast. In highlighting their work, they also asked people to contact them if they have been stopped and frisked and then reminded their users: “our reporting is only as strong as the community we’re honored to serve.”
Many news organizations host booths at festivals, but the Fort Worth Star-Telegram staff went a step further.
Many news organizations host booths at festivals, but the Fort Worth Star-Telegram staff went a step further. On top of showing up at a popular community event and interacting with the public, they decided to also help register people to vote. By being present in the community they allowed people to see them as real people and get to know them better. When people meet journalists and get to know them it can help build trust for the individual journalist, but also the news organization and the journalism industry as a whole.
Many news organizations host booths at festivals, but the Fort Worth Star-Telegram staff went a step further.
Many news organizations host booths at festivals, but the Fort Worth Star-Telegram staff went a step further. On top of showing up at a popular community event and interacting with the public, they decided to also help register people to vote. By being present in the community they allowed people to see them as real people and get to know them better. When people meet journalists and get to know them it can help build trust for the individual journalist, but also the news organization and the journalism industry as a whole.
Video: How to Submit a Letter to the Editor
The Tennessean produced a 41-second video  for users explaining how to submit a “letter to the editor.” They included information about where to send the letter and how many words it should be (250 or less). The video is concise and to the point. More importantly, it can be embedded on the website or easily shared on social and by including text on the screen, it is easily consumable.
Video: How to Submit a Letter to the Editor
The Tennessean produced a 41-second video  for users explaining how to submit a “letter to the editor.” They included information about where to send the letter and how many words it should be (250 or less). The video is concise and to the point. More importantly, it can be embedded on the website or easily shared on social and by including text on the screen, it is easily consumable.
Community Impact wanted to make sure its users understood how it was approaching primary election season. In a post on their website, they stressed how they will be reaching out to all candidates in contested races and would not be endorsing candidates. They also shared which races they would be covering. This post did not inspire negative comments from users, something that is rare for a political story.
Community Impact wanted to make sure its users understood how it was approaching primary election season. In a post on their website, they stressed how they will be reaching out to all candidates in contested races and would not be endorsing candidates. They also shared which races they would be covering. This post did not inspire negative comments from users, something that is rare for a political story.
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.
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 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.
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.
When sharing a story about someone who died by suicide on Facebook, the Coloradoan used the post as a way to explain their approach to covering suicides. The Facebook post read: "It's the Coloradoan's policy not to report on individual suicides unless the act is in a public place or involves a high-profile person, such as in this case. We felt it was important to report on this story to complete our coverage of the case and provide resources for those struggling with mental illness." The news team did a good job responding to commenters in an appropriate tone and used national guidelines from the CDC to help explain their position.
When sharing a story about someone who died by suicide on Facebook, the Coloradoan used the post as a way to explain their approach to covering suicides. The Facebook post read: “It’s the Coloradoan’s policy not to report on individual suicides unless the act is in a public place or involves a high-profile person, such as in this case. We felt it was important to report on this story to complete our coverage of the case and provide resources for those struggling with mental illness.” The news team did a good job responding to commenters in an appropriate tone and used national guidelines from the CDC to help explain their position.
The Jefferson City News Tribune wrote about an award their news team won and shared the post on Facebook. "When Jefferson City wins, so do we," it read. The post then discussed one of the stories the news organization won an award for which was a photograph of a local baseball team's victory. The newspaper also congratulated the journalists and recognized the baseball team in the post.
The Jefferson City News Tribune wrote about an award their news team won and shared the post on Facebook. “When Jefferson City wins, so do we,” it read. The post then discussed one of the stories the news organization won an award for which was a photograph of a local baseball team’s victory. The newspaper also congratulated the journalists and recognized the baseball team in the post.
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 Jefferson City News Tribune wrote about an award their news team won and shared the post on Twitter. "When Jefferson City wins, so do we," it read. The post then discussed one of the stories the news organization won an award for which was a photograph of a local baseball team's victory. The newspaper also congratulated the journalists and recognized the baseball team in the post.
The Jefferson City News Tribune wrote about an award their news team won and shared the post on Twitter. “When Jefferson City wins, so do we,” it read. The post then discussed one of the stories the news organization won an award for which was a photograph of a local baseball team’s victory. The newspaper also congratulated the journalists and recognized the baseball team in the post.
While working on a long-term investigative project about local law enforcement, WCPO thought about how their users may respond to the story once it was published. They realized they may get pushback for investigating police officers and decided to publish a story explaining why they are holding law enforcement accountable. They also highlight how being a watchdog is part of their mission as a news organization. The news team said the explainer story helped keep the focus on their reporting and what they uncovered instead of anti-cop rhetoric they were anticipating.
While working on a long-term investigative project about local law enforcement, WCPO thought about how their users may respond to the story once it was published. They realized they may get pushback for investigating police officers and decided to publish a story explaining why they are holding law enforcement accountable. They also highlight how being a watchdog is part of their mission as a news organization. The news team said the explainer story helped keep the focus on their reporting and what they uncovered instead of anti-cop rhetoric they were anticipating.
WCPO published a story explaining how the editorial board and process works at their news organization. The story discussed what topics they will focus editorials on and their policy when it comes to endorsing candidates.
WCPO published a story explaining how the editorial board and process works at their news organization. The story discussed what topics they will focus editorials on and their policy when it comes to endorsing candidates.
The State wanted to make sure all members of one of their Facebook groups understood their community guidelines. They also wanted to revist the rules to clearly state what is allowed and what is not. Once they came up with the revised guidelines, they pinned the post to the top of the group. Here is what they posted: "The Buzz is a place on Facebook where those interested in South Carolina politics can discuss current events and related topics. We encourage thoughtful comments from a wide range of viewpoints, and support passionate and respectful dialogue. We will not tolerate personal attacks, threats, obscenity, profanity, political campaigning or commercial promotion. Moderators maintain the right to remove violating comments and suspend or ban users when necessary."
The State wanted to make sure all members of one of their Facebook groups understood their community guidelines. They also wanted to revisit the rules to clearly state what is allowed and what is not. Once they came up with the revised guidelines, they pinned the post to the top of the group. Here is what they posted: “The Buzz is a place on Facebook where those interested in South Carolina politics can discuss current events and related topics. We encourage thoughtful comments from a wide range of viewpoints and support passionate and respectful dialogue. We will not tolerate personal attacks, threats, obscenity, profanity, political campaigning or commercial promotion. Moderators maintain the right to remove violating comments and suspend or ban users when necessary.”
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 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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
While sharing a crime story on Facebook, the Coloradoan received questions about how they approach covering crime stories. In the comments section of the Facebook post, the news organization explained their crime coverage policy and answered questions from users.
While sharing a crime story on Facebook, the Coloradoan received questions about how they approach covering crime stories. In the comments section of the Facebook post, the news organization explained their crime coverage policy and answered questions from users.
After sharing some information about how they cover crime on Facebook, the Coloradoan decided to write a web story going into more detail about what their crime coverage policy is. By creating a separate page they are able to link to this when future questions up and can easily update it if their policy changes.
After sharing some information about how they cover crime on Facebook, the Coloradoan decided to write a web story going into more detail about what their crime coverage policy is. By creating a separate page they are able to link to this when future questions up and can easily update it if their policy changes.
When a commenter on Facebook was critical of language included in a story, the Enid staff responded directly and explained why the information was included. For this particular story, the information was coming directly from an affidavit so the journalist explained that it was official information from a court document and that is why they decided to include it in their story.
When a commenter on Facebook was critical of language included in a story, the Enid staff responded directly and explained why the information was included. For this particular story, the information was coming directly from an affidavit so the journalist explained that it was official information from a court document and that is why they decided to include it in their story.
The Gazette decided to explain how it covers crime stories by writing an FAQ on their website. By making it a separate article, it is something they can continuously link to and change if their policy or approach changes.
The Gazette decided to explain how it covers crime stories by writing an FAQ on their website. By making it a separate article, it is something they can continuously link to and change if their policy or approach changes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
WCNC does not normally air the raw footage of officer involved shootings but after reviewing the body camera footage and discussing it internally, they decided to air portions of video from obtained from local police. Since this was something their users may not be used to seeing, they wrote a story on their website about their decision to air the video and how they came to their decision.
WCNC does not normally air the raw footage of officer-involved shootings but after reviewing the body camera footage and discussing it internally, they decided to air portions of video from obtained from local police. Since this was something their users may not be used to seeing, they wrote a story on their website about their decision to air the video and how they came to their decision.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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!”
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.

screenshot from thegazette.com, showing a pull-out box with multiple perspectives.

 

screenshot from thegazette.com, showing a pull-out box with multiple perspectives.
The Gazette highlighted how they bring multiple perspectives into each story they cover by adding a pull-out box to their web story. The box highlighted what people on each side of the issue thought, shared a link to their in-depth coverage and asked users for feedback.

Screenshot of a headline that reads: Plazas: Why can't we be more civil on the Nashville transit debate?

Screenshot from tennessean.com
The columnist’s transparency is admirable, as he owns up about how he was “duped” and how he tried to move forward with civility, rather than “starting a pointless and heated Twitter feud.” Readers responded positively and kept the conversation going with a steady stream of op-eds on the topic.
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.

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.

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.

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.