This series of summer webinars will explore issues surrounding the publics distrust of the press, which students will encounter as working journalists. The first of the five afternoon sessions gives an overview of the problem; the others will suggest ways to address some of the most common or challenging ones.
Since the 1970s, there has been a steady decline in how favorably the public views the press, a drop from about 72% of Americans who said they trust it a great deal or fair amount in 1977 to 41% last year, according to Knight-Gallup polling. We will explore the reasons for this, why its concerning.
The Kerner Report in 1968 found news organizations had failed to meet the legitimate journalistic expectations of black citizens that their communities be fairly and thoroughly covered. Coverage still fails to depict a realistic picture of how people of color live their lives, with much of it focused on crime and an array of social and economic ills that afflict their communities. For decades, journalists of color have raised these issues and suggested ways to address them. Some newsroom managers finally appear to be listening.
A common complaint of news consumers is that journalists inject bias into their coverage rather than just report facts. While there is truth to this, it happens far less than some might have you believe, and it rarely is intentional. Often the perceived bias is commentary that many people dont distinguish from news. This session explores the perception of bias and offers steps journalists should take to draw the line between news and opinion.
Selecting the right source for a story can lend it credibility, while choosing the wrong one, or none at all, can reinforce the distrust many news consumers have for the press. This session will offer guidance on picking the best sources, such as those who are independent and verify information with evidence. It also will explore the use of anonymous sources and leaked information.
All journalists can play a role in rebuilding the trustworthiness of the press. Beyond producing fair, accurate stories, journalists must understand how to engage effectively with marginalized communities, amplify voices that have not been heard in mainstream news accounts and serve as community guides who highlight problems. It's difficult to change peoples minds and perceptions but worth trying. Newsroom managers can play a big role by showing leadership in this effort.