Much of my work these days focuses on how news consumers decide what information to trust — and what journalists can do to demonstrate their own trustworthiness.
I run Trusting News, a project with a goal of empowering journalists to better demonstrate credibility and earn trust. The first phase of the project, focusing on using social media to build trust, has been published at TrustingNews.org. In the second phase, newsrooms worked with me to interview their own news consumers about how they decide what brands and information to trust.
Now, 30 newsrooms are testing strategies based on what we learned in those interviews. Follow along on Medium.
In addition to the work on trust, I teach regularly for The Poynter Institute and the University of Florida.
I’m also working as the community manager for Gather, a site to support the community of practice of engaged journalists. It has been so exciting for me to watch the specialty of audience engagement grow up, and I’m thrilled to help support practitioners in this way.
Between these longer projects, I also have newsroom clients and speaking and training engagements. If you think we might work well together, head on over to this page for more details on that.
Journalism produced by my newsroom team
I sure miss my newsrooms days a lot of the time. Here are some of my favorite projects from my time inventing the community outreach team at the Columbia Missourian.
- We expanded the life cycle of our newsroom’s work, getting the community involved early in our process and having the journalists stay involved in what happens to content after it publishes.
- During breaking news, severe weather or big sports events, we embeded ScribbleLive live blogs on our website. Here’s one I curated during a breaking news event.
- We did weekly analytics reports (here’s a sample, from Andrew Gibson) for the newsroom, with a focus on what actions the staff can take to better serve our users and reach our potential users.
- We managed a section dedicated to readers telling their own stories. Here’s a column I wrote about why I value the section so much. And here are some of my favorites from among the 200 stories published to that section in 2014.
- We routinely invited readers’ perspective on stories that are in the works, often with a simple google form embedded in a story.
- We had a section, reported by my team, dedicated to explaining how the newsroom works.
- We sent social journalists from my team to cover big football games when we could. Here’s my rundown of what we learned and accomplished during the first one.
- We decided to take an active role in not just reporting on sexual assault but also being part of the solution. Here’s a discussion guide a student, Nate Anton, created about the underreporting of sexual assault on college campuses.
- When the community came together to address potential solutions to youth violence, students Ann Elise Taylor and Laura Kebede took an approach to coverage that collected underrepresented voices.
- As part of a reporting project that interviewed people of every age from 1 to 100, we threw a party for the community.
- As part of our election efforts, we created offline and online quizzes to prod people to get educated, and we tested which style users preferred.
- We often asked who most needed the content our newsroom produced. And when the answer lay with an offline audience, we created handouts like this one summarizing coverage, then put them in the hands of that audience.
Academic work from when I was discovering engagement
Back in 2010-2011, I wrote and studied a lot about the emerging subject of audience engagement in journalism. Here are a few examples of that in-depth work.
- A community engagement discussion guide for newsrooms: I wrote this near the end of my year as an RJI fellow. It’s designed to help individual newsroom staffs zero in on what their goals are and what might help get them there. It was informed by dozens of interviews I did with journalists, who all had different ideas about what community engagement meant for their own situations.
- Three kinds of engagement: outreach, conversation, collaboration: What I learned in dozens of interviews. Plus, my definition of audience engagement in journalism.
- A survey of professional journalists: I helped design this survey, which gathered baseline data on what web analytics and audience engagement strategies were actually in use by daily newspaper editors.
- My master’s thesis: This work reflects how I categorized types of community engagement work and how one newsroom I studied in-depth was attempting to change its culture.