Need to Know: January 19, 2022


You might have heard: The U.S. ranks last among 46 countries in trust in media (Poynter) 

But did you know: A majority of people globally believe journalists are ‘purposely trying to mislead’ (Axios)

Journalists and government leaders are the least trusted societal leaders, according to Edelman’s 2022 global “Trust Barometer.” In the survey from 28 countries, 67% percent of people say that journalists are “purposely trying to mislead people by saying things they know are false or gross exaggerations.” And all over the world, people are worried that the news is becoming more sensational for commercial gain, writes Sara Fischer. There is also a growing trust gap between the wealthy and non-wealthy. As people become more distrustful of institutions, they are more likely during the pandemic to have trust in neighbors and coworkers than in people from other countries or regions.

+ Noted: WBEZ’s board has approved the acquisition of the Chicago Sun-Times, a deal that will create one of the country’s largest nonprofit news organizations (The Chicago Sun-Times); Former New York Post editor sues tabloid, alleging sexual harassment (The Daily Beast); NewsGuard says it doubled its revenue in 2021, plans to expand into new markets and areas (CNN); The Justice Department and the FTC have launched a joint effort to modernize antitrust enforcement (The Verge)


Trusting News receives funding from cross-disciplinary, cross-ideological field collaborative New Pluralists (Medium, Trusting News)

Trusting News has received a $150,000 grant from New Pluralists, a cross-disciplinary, cross-ideological field collaborative, to support its “A Road To Pluralism” initiative. The program is aimed at helping journalists strengthen trust across diverse values, experiences and political views to bridge divides, foster productive conversations and fuel open-mindedness. New Pluralists launched in 2020 to support the growing field of practitioners, storytellers, researchers, and innovators working to foster a culture of pluralism in America.

+ Trusting News is also a partner in Democracy SOS, a new fellowship led by Hearken and Solutions Journalism Network to support U.S.-based newsrooms committed to “building understanding and trust, engendering hope and reducing polarization” (Medium, Jennifer Brandel)

+ Trust Tip: Be clear about where photos and videos come from (Trusting News)


How the founder of The Kansas City Beacon learned to listen (Google)

When Kelsey Ryan decided to launch The Beacon in Kansas City, she realized quickly that the key to a successful, community-oriented news outlet was listening to what people in their community actually want from their local journalism. By setting up tables at community events, sending out surveys, holding listening sessions and partnering with local organizations, Ryan discovered that her audience wanted a mix of investigative, solutions and data journalism that would provide context for news developments in their city. Reaching out also helped to build a reader base; The Beacon’s newsletter has 7,000 subscribers less than two years after launch.


This news site is training hundreds of young women in digital journalism to reach remote audiences in news deserts across India (Reuters Institute)

When COVID-19 hit, Khabar Lahariya, a “rural-focused, women-led Indian news network,” did more than just report on the effects of the pandemic on rural parts of India. The network created a training program aimed at helping young female journalists tell stories about underrepresented parts of the country through a feminist lens. The training included skills-based courses such as editing for social media as well as broader modules on the role of rural journalism in a democracy. The team behind Khabar Lahariya is also creating a toolbox to help rural journalists contend with issues that urban reporters might not, such as “the challenge of being highly visible as a female journalist in a rural community.”


How to build a successful upskilling program (Harvard Business Review)

For many organizations struggling with employee retention, providing skills training is an attractive option. But for employers, the solution is not a quick fix, but a “longer-term investment in augmenting the knowledge, skills, and competencies that help employees advance their careers,” write Susan R. Vroman and Tiffany Danko. Employers should help workers develop and pursue their own career path and provide resources to help whenever possible. When employees give feedback about what they’re looking for in training, make sure it’s clear that those ideas are heard and acted upon. And when providing training, identify clear paths for milestones and career development so that employees can measure their own progress.


Fact-checking may be important, but it won’t help Americans learn to disagree better (Nieman Lab)

While fact-checking is a key tool in encouraging media literacy and holding politicians accountable, it is not going to help Americans work through their differences, argues Taylor Dotson. Research into the effectiveness of fact-checking is mixed, and appearing to speak authoritatively about a debated issue — such as the origins of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 — can only lead to more distrust. Instead of focusing on declaring some ideas as true or untrue, Dotson argues that we should highlight complex issues and explore why they are divisive.


How The Atlantic’s audience research team studied readers’ and listeners’ needs to enhance its products (Medium, Building the Atlantic)

Since The Atlantic began doing research on subscriber needs in the fall of 2019, the audience research team has gathered five reasons that readers and listeners turn to the outlet. Emily Goligoski, executive director of audience research, breaks down how they then use each of these needs to craft products and target potential subscribers. For instance, subscribers said they turn to The Atlantic to give “deeper clarity and context” to the news. So, when putting together the “today” feed on the mobile app, editors choose from stories that help explain not just what is happening, but contextualize events within a broader narrative.