Centering care in the journalistic process

Simply put, the way journalists and news editors approach and deliver stories significantly impacts public perception and trust. Modeling care in the reporting process is not just a moral imperative but a business one. Care ensures accuracy, thoroughness and sensitivity — all traits that readers and viewers deeply value. When news outlets consistently demonstrate these traits, they foster a deeper bond with their audiences and communities. This trust translates into loyalty, driving sustained engagement and supporting robust business models in an era where the integrity of information is frequently questioned.

Moreover, infusing care into journalistic practices can serve as a differentiating factor in a crowded media landscape. As misinformation and sensationalism proliferate, outlets that prioritize care stand out as reliable and credible sources, attracting discerning readers and viewers. In turn, this can lead to innovative and sustainable business opportunities, from premium subscriptions to partnerships with organizations that value truth and responsibility. In essence, by emphasizing care, media entities are not only upholding the tenets of good journalism but also paving the way for a prosperous and reputable future. Showing up and showing care is also a notable competitive advantage when it comes to artificial intelligence. AI is unembodied, and cannot inherently care, after all.

In recent years, the conversation about care has been happening at the institutional level and the individual level: how might employers better care for their staff, and how might people prioritize self-care? This resource, inspired by practitioner jesikah maria ross, is focused on a different level of care: how to model and align with care in the very process of reporting and distributing journalism.

Guides & Best Practices

Future of Local News
Take Care, Make Care: Dispatches from the Future of Local News Care Collaboratory
Over the course of six meetings in 2023, a few dozen people including journalists, academics, health workers and artists gathered to discuss ways to center care in reporting. Engagement practitioner jesikah maria ross led the group through a variety of care explorations and emerged with a publication, which provides valuable insights from the collaboratory.

Center for Journalism Ethics — University of Wisconsin-Madison
“Why Should I Tell You?: A Guide to Less-Extractive Reporting”
This guidebook by Natalia Yahr is available in English and Spanish and explores what vulnerable communities stand to gain — or lose — from sharing their stories with reporters, and what reporters are doing about it through 12 tactical rules.

Oxford University Press
“How Journalists Engage: A Theory of Trust Building, Identities and Care”
This book by professor Sue Robinson, provides evidence for the changing role of journalists and the need to develop new skill sets around listening and community care, tying it with research about how to build trust and make journalism more effective.

Free Press
“7 Tips for Journalists from Restorative-Justice Practitioners”
This guidebook frames the work of journalists through the lenses of transformative and restorative justice, challenging journalists and editors to reckon with harm done through acts of journalism and offering practical tools for change.

“Ethical Practice”
This guidebook offers principles for journalists and storytellers of all types to center their work in the well-being of those they are covering. It includes recommendations on gaining consent, handling images and a bill of rights.

The Listening Post Collective
Listening Post Collective Playbook: A Start-Up Course for Civic Media
This provides a self-paced educational experience rooted in principles of power-building, care and responsible reporting practices.

“Don’t talk to a journalist until you read this”
These tips from Lewis Raven Wallace are intended for subjects who are being asked for an interview by reporters. Journalists can provide this with their interview requests to empower those they seek feedback from and create a more equitable power dynamic with consent at the core.

The Documentary Accountability Working Group
Resources, reflections and frameworks
This group is for documentary filmmakers. It considers values, guiding principles and ethics that inform the practices of filmmakers, and shape their relationship to the story, the participants, the audience, funders and other stakeholders.

Time Spent is a Substack publication featuring conversations, notes and links on care and media from Jihii Jolly. She looks at care from a multiplicity of perspectives and often puts forward best practices and lessons learned from those she interviews.

Additional Resources

“When care becomes a core tenet of journalism” by AX Mina

“AI couldn’t care less. Journalists will care more” by Jennifer Brandel

“Listening is a form of healing” by Jennifer Brandel

Kettering Foundation
“Reinventing Journalism to Strengthen Democracy: Insights from Innovators”
Essay: “For Democracy to work, journalism needs an ethic of care” by Linda Miller

Oxford University Press
“Meaningful Inefficiencies” by Eric Gordon and Gabriel Mugar

Arsenal Pulp Press
“Care Work” by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha

Harmony Labs
“From Research to Campaign: Audience Strategy for Narratives of Care” by Ishita Srivastava

“Health care and journalism are facing the same crises” by Alexa Miller and Jacob Nelson

The Washington Post
“I stopped reading the news. Is the problem me — or the product?” by Amanda Ripley