Journalists, let’s work together on earning trust

I was supposed to make a presentation this weekend to a joint gathering of the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association and the Inland Press Association. I’m not going to make it. And honestly, anything with the word “inland” in it sounds pretty good to me right now. I’m not there because Hurricane Irma is headed toward me, and I’m hunkering down.

Instead, I recorded this quick video to tell journalists why I hope they’ll invest in earning trust and invite them to join me. (Click here to skip the chatty 30-second intro about Hurricane Irma.)

Journalists know that trust in their work is decreasing, but they too often don’t know what to do about it. They don’t have the strategies they need to combat misinformation, to share the value of their work and to communicate their own credibility. They also don’t understand enough about the nature of the distrust and therefore can’t address it properly.

Here are a few things I’ve learned in almost two years working on the issue of trust in news. (More is at

— Our communities have a lot of incorrect assumptions about our motivations and processes, and we’re not educating them.

— People know what they’re looking for in the news but often don’t recognize it when they see it.

— We’re often doing the very things people say they want, but they don’t realize we’re doing them.

— When people talk about us, they lump us together with “the media.” We’re under that umbrella, but we’ve got to distinguish ourselves. “The media” often DO sensationalize things, emphasize conflict, make things up and mask persuasion as news. They often AREN’T invested in public service or improving their communities.

We can change that. We have to change it. We can’t just accept it. We can’t hope someone else or something else will fix it. That’s so dangerous.

If you think your community should be proud of the role you play, you need to tell them. And don’t just tell them in a way that feels like a marketing push. Tell the as part of your journalism.

We are accepting applications from newsrooms interested in helping us test the next round of strategies, and we’re developing a training program to get our trust insights into newsrooms. If you’d like information about participating, let us know at We’ll send you more details.



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