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Effective accountability journalists build connections and teamwork within their own newsrooms

In addition to cultural competency with different communities, these highly effective reporters also manage the challenges of life inside stressed and stressful newsrooms.

That navigation includes finding “tribes” of like-minded colleagues in all departments and helping to build bridges among those tribes; and when confronted with problems, finding constructive solutions rather than spending energy venting.

From an individual standpoint, affiliating with those tribes helps to “balance out the bad actors,” as one reporter said, who are impediments or distractions. From a workflow standpoint, a tribe that spans the news organization — from advertising and marketing to circulation and finance — can be a facilitator to problem-solving. These journalists recognize that getting a solution to an internal problem doesn’t simply involve complaining: It’s reaching the person who can actually do something about the problem.

A tribe that spans the news organization — from advertising and marketing to circulation and finance — can be a facilitator to problem-solving.

Their deeper understanding of the newsroom culture also means these reporters often have the disposition to connect the various tribes. Stephanie Arnold said she gradually introduces reporters to new platforms, offering practical advice such as “Don’t use all the platforms at the same time” and “Don’t try new platforms on deadline.”

Clinton Yates explained how he works with more traditional journalists to get them to embrace new tools and responsibilities such as social media: He tells them how he played football, soccer and basketball as a student, and participating in each sport helped him grow as an athlete.

Likewise, he said, being skilled in many new facets of journalism also leads to better performance.

Why this characteristic is important in accountability journalism: Productive newsroom conversations are essential, says Kaiser. “In too many newsrooms journalists can spend too much time talking about things they can not control. The best journalists talk journalism with their colleagues. They talk about the best stories and what made them the best stories. They engage colleagues to critique their work and help them find ways to strengthen it.”

Percent
Eagerly adapt to
new technologies
18.2%
Spend time building
relationships
27.3%
Work to create
context for audiences
27.3%
Direct their
own work
18.2%
Smartly balance
their time
9.1%

Data Source: Answers from our group of 17 accountability reporters.

American Press Institute

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