We know many journalists want to thoughtfully engage with their communities but often don’t feel like they have the time or the support to do this work. (We know this because we asked the journalists we work with!)
We also know when we talk about building trust, we’re proposing a new way to do journalism that has transparency and engagement strategies at its core. And anytime you ask journalists to change habits and routines, it involves reprioritizing, which means changing organizational values and culture.
Creating shifts and change like that can be so challenging! That’s why in this last edition of our special takeover of this newsletter, we wanted to focus on specific tips and strategies for how journalists can prioritize this work in their newsrooms.
– Mollie Muchna, Trusting News Project Manager
WHERE TO START
We have a Trust Kit to help: Our new training tool, Trust Kits, offers guidance and strategies for journalists trying to work to build trust. We just published a Trust Kit on how journalists can change newsroom culture. Check it out here.
Want to shift your newsroom’s culture around engagement and building trust? Need buy-in for your ideas? Here are five tips for getting started.
- Establish what needs to change and why. Start by articulating clearly what the problem is. Maybe it’s noting that trust in news is low or pointing to specific feedback your newsroom has heard. Then get crystal clear about why what you’re proposing matters. Look at your newsroom’s mission statement and see if you can tie your goals to the overall established purpose. (Bosses tend to appreciate that.)
- Show how the change can help solve problems. Solving your boss’s problems is a good idea. What is she worried or frustrated about? And what frustrates your coworkers? Showing how you can ease colleagues’ workload or alleviate their tension is WAY more compelling than asking them to make time for something just because it’s a good idea. Example: Do they want to reach new, diverse audiences? Point to how doing authentic listening and engagement can build trust and increase users.
- Start with things you can control. Think about what’s within your sphere of influence. What behind-the-scenes information could you start adding to your own stories? How could you be present in responding to user comments? Start by showing what’s possible in ways that might involve getting permission but don’t require other action from colleagues.
- Recruit allies and ignore detractors.Only some people are going to think this work is worthwhile, and that’s okay. Don’t try to convert the cranky colleague. Instead, find collaborators. Focus on them, and let the dissenters be someone else’s problem.
- Give yourself accountability and structure.Think about how you will build time for working on trust, even when it doesn’t tie to your most urgent deadlines. What accountability and structure would be useful? Can you block off 30 minutes a week? Or can you tell your boss that you have a goal of doing something new with one story or one shift a week?
We know how hard it is to squeeze new things into the jam-packed life of a journalist. So, how can you invest in making engagement work more efficient over time? Here are some tips from Trusting News director Joy Mayer.
- Take one-on-one communication public. Think about the time you spend answering emails, having phone conversations and talking to people in person. Then look for chances to share publicly what you’ve already articulated individually.
- Save responses to use again. The best way to build efficiency is to stop crafting the same language over and over. Start a newsroom document where you collect language you use to respond to your community. A Slack channel can also work.
- Turn responses into content. Take those responses and repurpose them as editor’s columns, newsletter sections, social media videos, editor’s notes on stories, etc.
- Form realistic habits that are appropriate for your role. Identify what is within your control and what you hope to accomplish. Comment more on stories? Have better conversations with sources out in the field? Use your own social media to talk about your work? Then set up a system that works for you. (We have tips for how to get buy-in even if you’re not the boss.)
- Make sure the newsroom knows about all of these efforts. Talk about how much time they took, and how much time they saved. Find the right routine (on Slack? In a weekly staff meeting?) to celebrate engagement wins and remind people they’re invited to also share any language you’ve taken public. Remind them how much they can learn from engaging more proactively with the community.
We hope you enjoyed insights from the team at Trusting News! For more advice on building trust, subscribe to Trusting News’ weekly newsletter. Stay tuned for our next Need to Know Special Edition on mental health in the newsroom.