Strategies for good journalism when sources dismiss the press

Politicians have long tried to duck hard questions from journalists, but they are increasingly finding new ways to avoid any media scrutiny. Shut Out, a new report from Poynter, explores how media outlets can adapt their work to serve their audiences, even if government officials aren’t cooperative.

Some key strategies include explaining to your audiences the steps that you took to contact an official or gather information even if those efforts were fruitless. Focus on building relationships with people in the political network who will talk, even if they’re not a public face. Partner with other journalists, even if it means sharing interviews. And pool resources to access things like public documents.

News In Focus
Headlines, resources and events aligned with API’s four areas of focus.

 Civic Discourse & Democracy

>> New from API: Election insights: Understanding public preferences for news coverage for 2024

While the majority of Americans say they follow election-related coverage, only 14% express a great deal of confidence in the news they receive from national outlets — and only 11% from local news media, according to a new study from The Media Insight Project. People are worried that news outlets are reporting inaccurate or unverified information, or focusing too much on divisions and controversies. 

>> Most Americans say a free press is highly important to society (Pew Research Center)

While 73% of Americans say that a free press is extremely or very important, that number is higher amongst white and Asian Americans, as well as those with higher education and higher income. Even more Americans believe that news organizations are at least somewhat influenced by corporations and financial incentives (84%) or government and political interests (83%).

>> Why are politicians so negative? Hint: it’s a media problem (Substack, RQ1)

A new study found that politicians who were negative in a Belgian parliamentary setting were 60% more likely to be featured in evening news coverage than politicians who stayed positive.

Culture & Inclusion

» Join us today: Trauma-informed leadership for post-pandemic news leaders

At its core, trauma-informed leadership recognizes and respects human experiences. Post-pandemic news organizations require us to re-order our skillset, moving “soft” skills to the top. While the soft skills of leadership are difficult, API believes these skills will help retain critical perspectives and pivotal voices. In this workshop — led by Sam Ragland, API’s vice president of journalism programs — we’ll invite caring, coaching and connecting to the table. Join us today at 1 p.m. EDT for this free session.

>> How to build a stronger newsroom culture – seven tips from an expert (The Fix)

One tip: make sure that over-extended managers aren’t creating bottlenecks. Empower mid-level leaders to make decisions and create clear guidelines to allow multiple employees to act on routine matters like PTO requests.

>> Webinar: Writing across difference (The OpEd Project)

Historian and writer Neil Young offers advice on how to write about people who are different from you “with curiosity, respect, empathy, integrity, and self-preservation.”

Community Engagement & Trust

>> New from API: Journalism has many roles. It’s time to embrace the role of convener

When we look at conversations about “news deserts,” perhaps the role local media can play as convener should be in the same breath as the importance of covering City Hall. Good convening requires strong facilitation skills, influential and empathic leadership skills, and different listening skills than an interview — things many journalists likely didn’t learn or anticipate when they signed up for the job. To be good conveners, local media need resources and opportunity to equip their journalists with these skills.

>> Trust Tip: 3 strategies for responding to accusations of bias (Trusting News)

Journalists are accused of bias routinely. Here are three strategies we hope you’ll keep in mind when you find yourself faced with accusations of bias: See it as an opportunity; establish a counter-narrative, and bring the receipts; and find the truth in it.

>> ‘Objectivity’ in journalism is a tricky concept. What could replace it? (Nieman Lab)

In recent years, journalists have turned away from the idea of objectivity, but audiences still want it. Some have suggested the concept be replaced by transparency, precision or independence.

Revenue & Resilience

>> Resilience in Perugia: 5 ways we see journalists persevering during times of turmoil and change (The Fix)

Journalists around the world are facing government threats, AI competition, the fragmenting of social media, the targeting of journalists in wartime and ethical questions surrounding leaked information.

>> How Germany’s Ippen Media mastered content planning across 86 newsrooms (Press Gazette)

The company used a central platform for a shared editorial calendar, content tools and content rights management. This allowed the platforms to significantly reduce duplicated articles across their network.

What else you need to know

🎓 Journalism professors call on New York Times to review Oct. 7 report (The Washington Post)

💻 F.C.C. votes to restore net neutrality rules (The New York Times)

📻 Cuts at WBUR underscore the black swan event that now threatens public radio (Media Nation)

🗞️ 8 daily newspapers sue OpenAI and Microsoft over A.I. (The New York Times)