Everyone’s talking about Journalism Matters Week. By which I mean journalists are talking about Journalism Matters Week. But so is the Queen!
Her Majesty made one’s thoughts on the matter crystal clear:
‘Having trusted, reliable sources of information, particularly at a time when there are so many sources competing for our attention, is vital’.
Naturally, those sources want not only our attention but our trust. Hence regional papers from up and down the nation taking part in #trustednewsday!
Whilst it’s typically mainstream papers and high-profile television news networks that find themselves embroiled in disputes over media bias and journalistic integrity, regional papers are keen to earn your trust, too.
We asked senior regional journalists what springs to mind when they ponder: ‘What makes a news organisation trustworthy?’
David Powles, Editor — Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News
‘I’ll be honest, trust isn’t something you can prove overnight or in an instance and in terms of local media it takes days and weeks of publishing fair and balanced content for the reader to be able to work it out. I would say that you can tell a news organisation is trustworthy if it doesn’t sensationalise, is impartial, balanced and fair in the content it produces‘.
Terry Canty, Head of News — North Wales Pioneer
‘The test of whether a news organisation is trustworthy is provided through its content, solid news sources, unbiased non-opinion-based articles, and a news agenda dictated by events and not advertisers or political figures‘.
John Wilson, Editor— Hereford Times
‘Trust is not always easy to define. Loyal readers will, for instance, trust the Daily Mail, while its enemies will not believe a word it says. Who is right?
‘Most news publishers are online, and readers are able to leave comments on stories that are posted. Read as many comments as you can. Are the veracity of the stories repeatedly being questioned by readers?
‘If you are reading on social media look out for official verification symbols (Facebook uses a small white tick on a blue circle). These are indications that the page has met a certain standard set by the platform’.
Rob Smith, Senior Reporter — Shropshire Star
‘With disinformation everywhere on social media and wild conspiracy theories flying around unchallenged, it can be hard to know who to trust sometimes. But there are still news outlets who do the hard work of checking the fine print, verifying figures and ensuring that what we tell our readers is true — as members of the communities we report on it is in our interests to be honest.
‘My advice would be to be sceptical of everything you read, without being cynical or incurious. It can be easy to dismiss a story as “fake news” because you don’t like what it says about our country or the times we live in, but part of being a responsible reader of the news is to keep an open mind.
‘Always look for an article’s source — is the information coming from a credible place? How many people are quoted? The more sources, the better. Does the writer have a record of responsible, well-sourced reporting? See if other outlets are reporting the same information — news organisations will look to ‘stand up’ stories reported by others and if they are running the same story, odds are the information has been verified’.
Mark Drew, Group Deputy Editor — Express and Star, West Midlands
‘We always like to think we are trustworthy. That doesn’t mean we don’t get things wrong but as a local paper we are very accountable to our readers. If we make a mistake we hear about it very quickly.
‘Our reputation — and that of all good local publications — is based on ensuring we are responsible, factual but also that we campaign and stand up for causes that matter to our readers. We also try to be entertaining as well!
‘That is the difference between trusted news in local journalism and the unaccountable and unsubstantiated information that often flies around in social media’.
What makes you trust a news organisation? What makes you change your mind? Make like the Queen and add to the conversation!