In this age of “fake news,” trust in news media is at an all-time low. Increased use of social media and the internet in recent years have exacerbated this problem. There is a huge increase in misinformation on the internet, and it’s difficult to weed out what is true. Genuine news media publications are faced with a public that no longer knows what to trust. There needs to be a shift in transparency in news publications. If news publications are more transparent in where and how they are crafting these stories and acquiring information, there will be a positive shift in public trust of news.
Transparency can be achieved by taking action and prioritizing the public. Reporters and journalists need to tell the public how they got the story, why they deemed it newsworthy, how they got the information that was included and who their sources were. It is important to respect the audience, and journalists need to take responsibility for the news they are releasing. When talking with journalists and experts to examine how to be more transparent in an effort to shift public trust, the American Press Institute stated, “If journalists are truth seekers, it must follow that they be honest and truthful with their audiences, too.” In order to achieve this, journalists need to make a greater effort “to cite original source material, to offer ways for the audience to participate in the news-gathering process, or to be responsive to requests for correction.” Furthermore, they found that the five keys to credibility were:
Support your reporting with sources and show your audiences
Collaborate with your audience
Attribute information responsibly
Offer disclosures and statements of values
Correct website and social media errors effectively
News agencies need to implement a standard process that ensures everyone is accountable across the board. People are suspicious of the media and some outlets are not trustworthy. By implementing processes to enhance accountability, publishers will not only have an advantage over other publishers, but they will also help incite trust in the news again.
Opinion articles need to be clearly marked so that the public can distinguish them from objective news. All news outlets have different ways of labeling content which can lead to confusion. There should be a nationwide standard for how articles are labeled. Online media sources should be explicit about disclosing all commercial funding. The public has a right to know what is paid to advertise and what goes into the algorithms that determine what advertisements the public sees.
By being more transparent and honest with the public, by being willing to redact and fix mistakes and by showing how stories are created, the credibility of news and the faith of the public will rise. In our digital world, there are masses of information, some true, some false, and explaining stories and sources will lead to improvements in reporting.