Using transparency techniques to increase trust in politics reporting
Many news consumers and potential voters do not understand that some journalists are paid to share their opinions — that political endorsements or recommendations are a part of the mission. They definitely don’t understand or assume that those endorsements are (typically) researched and written completely separately from the news operation.
It’s up to journalists to make the distinction clear, and they should do so at every opportunity. The Miami Herald wrote an explanation to add to day-to-day coverage and also created social media posts to take the message to younger and potentially less experienced news consumers where they’re already getting information.
The responses provide good reminders that the explanations are valued (high engagement) AND that they are desperately needed (confusion in the comments).
It’s reasonable for journalists to be frustrated that people see an endorsement from the opinion team and interpret it as evidence of a liberal bias in news coverage. But it’s not reasonable to do nothing about it. We can’t change that our communities do not understand our work, so we have to build explanations into the work — routinely and repeatedly.
- “Behind Our Reporting” box at the end of the story that explains the recommendation process
- Instagram post that includes an explanation along with key recommendations
- Twitter Spaces with staff
- This is the work of Lauren Costantino, audience engagement producer for the opinion team
- Find their guide on opinion labeling and descriptions here