March 15, 2021

It’s so frustrating to be surrounded by negative perceptions of “the media,” isn’t it? We see them reflected in research, in comment sections and maybe even in our own conversations and inboxes. We also know that how likely someone is to trust the news can depend in part on who they are, including their age, their race and how they identify politically, but it can be hard to know what to do about any of it.

As a journalist, this anti-news climate probably leaves you feeling frustrated. Maybe you feel determined to change people’s minds. Or maybe you’re just mad. Especially if you consider your work to be a public service (as I do), it’s easy to resent when that work is seen as irresponsible, unethical or irrelevant.

I’m here to tell you that those perceptions don’t have to define your relationship with your own community. You are indeed part of “the media,” but you can and should differentiate yourself from that by telling the story of your work.

The first step is to remember that some news organizations have earned those negative reputations. Just as you are likely frustrated by some things done in the name of journalism, so is the public. Not all journalists correct errors, show care for their sources, clearly label opinion content and explain where their funding comes from.

It’s healthy for people to be skeptical of information and discerning in their news choices. The real question is: Why is your work worthy of trust, and how can you make that clear?

How can you explain that responsible journalists follow a code of ethics, think carefully about people’s privacy, value accountability and accuracy — and most importantly, that they really do try to be fair.

We can help you do this. Through a new course from Poynter and our team at Trusting News, you will learn how to be transparent about your goals, mission and ethics, while understanding why it’s important to engage with your community by asking for feedback and hosting conversations.

Register free here: How Any Journalist Can Earn Trust

It’s a self-paced course, which means you can learn on your own time. You also can pick and choose the sections you complete and decide what you want to focus on first. In the course, you will learn:

  • What people think about the news, and how your news organizations fits into the landscape of “the media”
  • How to talk about your goals and mission as a news organization (and also why this is so important to earning trust)
  • Why it’s important to moderate conversation spaces (including social media) and how you can effectively make time for it and gain insights from what you are hearing
  • How to talk about your ethics and news decisions and be transparent about those decisions in your daily reporting and specific beats
  • Why labeling and describing opinion content is so important and how you can effectively do it
  • How to talk about your funding and how the business side of journalism impacts (or in most cases, doesn’t impact) news decisions
  • Why it’s important to help people navigate the news and easy ways you can insert media literacy into your journalism

Throughout the course, there will be exercises to help you bring what you are learning into your newsroom and journalism. We will help you write an effective “About Us” page, walk you through how to assess your content labeling and help you practice your engagement skills. At the end you will be given an opportunity to submit your work for feedback to the Trusting News team.

We hope you leave the class feeling empowered to tell a better story about your work and to defend the integrity of your journalism.

Trusting News is a project of RJI and API launched in 2016. Since then, Trusting News staff has been working with news organizations to help them understand distrust, employ audience feedback strategies and demonstrate credibility. Get one tip for earning trust in your inbox each week with the Trust Tips newsletter

Support high-integrity, independent journalism that serves democracy. Make a gift to Poynter today. The Poynter Institute is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, and your gift helps us make good journalism better.
Lynn Walsh is an Emmy award-winning journalist who has worked in investigative journalism at the national level and locally in California, Ohio, Texas and Florida.…
Lynn Walsh

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