Brittanie Chludzinski · Uncategorized

Accountability and fairness are essential to restoring trust in the media

By Brittanie Chludzinski

“Fake news” and “alternative facts” are two phrases that we know all too well. Not only do these false realities pose a challenge to readers who are bombarded with various viewpoints and publications on social media, but it also creates an interesting challenge for today’s reporters.

Fake News. Creative Commons.

In the midst of new skepticism, how do newspapers, radios, TV stations and the like rebuild trust and support from their audiences?

According to Ken Doctor in the Nieman Report article,“Newsonomics: Rebuilding the news media will require doubling-down on its core values,” it’s about increasing accountability with readers and acting upon these promises of fairness and accuracy.

Doctor put its best when he says“…in recent years, it [accountability] has sometimes seemed like an add-on — maybe a foundation will fund it? — rather than the basic mission of a free press, national and local, in a free society.

While I’ve recognized this lack of accountability for some time, Doctor’s statement caused me to reflect on the real implications of this distrust by readers and the misguided intentions of various news publications.

Doctor’s call to action is creating a new bargain with readers to hold each other accountable. The best way to move forward in his opinion is restating clear values and making those values clear in the reporting day in and day out.

This restoration depends largely on increasing subscription and membership numbers for both national and local publications as well. By reporting accurate and fair news that individuals feel comfortable supporting, a spike in subscriptions will help particular media strengthen themselves as a trusted source in today’s overcrowded media landscape.

Doctor also offers content suggestions for regaining trust such as fact checking Trump’s tweets in a searchable database, rather than holding the president accountable for his actions in single stories than can get lost among the thousands of others.

It’s interesting to consider that this suggestion is a media innovation in itself. It’s finding the gap in today’s media and providing readers with what they fundamentally need. Based on the “jobs-to-be-done” concept in the Neiman Report article, ““Mastering the art of disruptive innovation in journalism,” today’s “job-to-be-done” for readers could be this: Understanding the implications and varying viewpoints of public policy and the Trump administration in a quick and efficient way without having to read numerous publications and articles.

In that case, I think Doctor’s suggestion would fulfill that “job-to-be-done.” After making this connection, I found it fascinating that even the dynamic and confusing relationship between today’s media and its audience creates the opportunity (and the need) for media entrepreneurs to step in with new problem-solving innovations.


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