In the era of fake news, it’s more important than ever to be critical of the news that you’re consuming. Every reporter and news outlet carries some form of bias, one way or the other. In order for people to begin to have any confidence in news media again, journalists have to make some changes to their work. Here are four changes journalists need to make to rebuild America’s confidence in the news.
Remove the secrecy
Many people have no idea what goes into writing a piece of news. They know little about the process of gathering and selecting sources and conducting interviews. Journalists need to be transparent about their work and how they conduct it. For citizens to have faith that the news they’re reading is truthful, journalists need to take active steps to communicate their mission and methods. This could mean making the unedited version of interviews available or opening up the newsroom to tours to the public, where journalists would walk people through their day-to-day.
Develop a shared mission
Citizens want to know that journalists are working towards a shared goal and that they share the values of the community. Journalists should view their work as direct service to community members and spend some of their time, money and energy building relationships with their readership. Many journalists see themselves as being a watchdog for powerful institutions, and while this is a crucial role, readers would value a stronger focus on the community.
Often, the news has the feeling of always being something negative. It seems as though you can’t turn the television on or open the newspaper without reading about the horrible state of the world. Stories about crime and other negative events capture the attention of the audience, but they don’t earn their trust. People want the news to more closely resemble the general positive sense that they have in their day-to-day life. They want the press to focus on solutions, rather than just problems.
Many readers feel that the news doesn’t represent their lives. The makeup of a newsroom should reflect the audience that they serve. When journalists write stories, they come at them from their own personal background and experiences, which often don’t represent the backgrounds of their readers. Having a diverse newsroom is key to ensuring that news stories are diverse.