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Looking ahead: Some questions to start a newsroom conversation on improving accountability efforts

The American Press Institute will continue to move forward with efforts to help accountability journalists do their jobs more effectively and engagingly. Here are some additional questions that all news organizations can consider and pursue:

Audiences

How do your write for your current audience and expand it at the same time?

When competing with national/international media on an accountability story, how does a local news organization break through the scrum and achieve impact?

How do you maintain audience and impact with an ongoing accountability story, such as an election or an environmental crisis?

How do you handle/recover from mistakes and still maintain your impact and audience?

How can journalists determine if their accountability reporting is achieving maximum impact?

Process

What percentage of decisions about accountability coverage is made by the editor? By the reporter? Mostly dictated by audiences?

Brandon Rittiman in the KUSA newsroom in Denver.

How can newsrooms use data to inform the best choice of platforms for accountability stories?

Balance and resiliency

How can accountability reporters — who get more feedback from audiences than most other types of reporters — deal with hostile audiences from a workflow standpoint? From an emotional health standpoint?

Why do some accountability reporters stay in the business while others — also good reporters —   have chosen to leave or not return?

How can newsrooms provide an outlet for reporters to discuss emotional health?

Obstacles

Are smaller editing staffs resulting in reporters make their own decisions (good or bad) about accountability story choices? How can reporters prepare for this shift?

Social and digital media are important for impact of accountability reporting. How can reporters fill the gaps left by reduced or inexperienced social media teams?

How can accountability reporters — especially those who write about politics — work around the real or perceived ideological biases of their news organizations?

Learning

How can cultural competence be encouraged and taught?

Would training specifically for time management be valuable?

Which reporters/writers/journalists do high-impact accountability reporters admire and learn from? Why?

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