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Firstly, there are many reasons why journalists have lost trust throughout the years and a lot of it I believe comes down to social media and 24/7 news. 24/7 news requires a high demand of content, this means that journalists must gathered information, facts and figures quickly, meaning they do not always get it right. However, there is always a demand for the most recent stories, the public want to know exactly what is going on as soon as it happens, which has caused a lack of trust within the journalism circle.
Within this I think that the quest for profit has had a huge impact on why journalists have also lost trust. This could be because the main quest will be deemed as most important and so the quality of journalism lacks. The more money offered for a story, the more likely some are willing to ‘bend the rules’ as such and try and get information in maybe a non-ethical way which I turn is destroying the trust between the public and journalists.
Saying this, there are many ways in which media outlets can address this issue and regain trust within journalism. To be begin with, media outlets can address the lack of trust within journalism by being completely ‘transparent’ within the mistakes made by journalists. An example of this was when The Times published an apology for writing about public health experts ‘financial links’ with the tobacco industry back in 2016. The apology ended with “we apologise for our errors and omissions and for the embarrassment caused.”
By doing this The Times has shown that they accepted they were in the wrong, making the public believe if they were to do something wrong again, they would make it open and tell, without the transparency the public may believe everything that is written and in the future, find out that it is not true. Keeping the trust between the public and journalists it important, not only to keep a media outlet running, but to also gain interviews and facts from people within the public. No trust means no real content.
Another way in which media outlets can address the lack of trust is to get real proof and reliable sources. When journalists have proof and good reliable sources, media outlets and the public are more likely to trust the content that is being released, If, however, they are using unreliable sources the quality of journalism lacks then those reading may start to lose even more trust.
However, getting reliable sources can prove difficult in 24/7 news because content is constantly changing. Watchdog news is also a big aspect in which news outlets can help regain trust within journalism, this is because watchdog news takes a lot more time and energy to get the story and usually includes a lot of facts and figures which explain in detail what is going on in what they are publishing. Creating in-depth, reliable content, the public will have no choice other than to believe what is being published. Without such content, there is no proof that what is being published is 100% factual.
This goes for investigative journalism too. Investigative journalism is a key part of journalism which is important with keeping the trust between public and journalist, this is because it is all ‘real’ journalism and usually on events that affect a lot of people, the more investigative journalism the more real, hard news out there.
Edelman study (Trust barometer [online]. Ebook. Edelman) on trust shows that 53% of people trust journalists, and only 35% trust in platforms, for example social media. In this study, when asked, “How frequently do you consume news produced by major news organisations, either original source of shared?” 50% said they disengage and consume news less than weekly.
I believe that social media has had a huge effect on the trust of journalists, however I also think that if used correctly, can help regain the trust of the younger members of public, which in turn will increase the trust worldwide. Initially fake news and social media have caused a huge lack of trust within journalism, this is because many people cannot cypher between real and fake news. Many also assume that anything on social media is written by a journalist, when in fact a lot of information online can come from any member of public. Click bait also makes it hard to see the real news as many fake news stories are clicked on.
If media outlets address the social media problem then they can use it to their advantage, for example, advertising on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook gets the real news outlets a chance to get ‘heard’ and will push out the fake news. On fake news, Edelman study suggests that 63% of people cannot tell what is fake and what is real news. Media outlets can teach the public to cypher what is coming from real journalists and what is coming from general public. This way people are less likely to believe everything they read online/social media.
Another way in which media outlets can address the lack of trust in journalists and help them regain the trust of the public is by ensuring all media outlets follow Ofcom or Ipso codes (minus those who follow their own practices and codes, e.g BBC) and within this, review all codes and practices within Ipso/Ofcom. This would help regain the trust lost as the public will know that all journalists are under the same rules and cannot act out just to get a story. These codes are important as the demand for being the first news outlet to publish a story is high which in turn affects the quality of journalism and the ethics some go through.
Rules for protecting sources should also be re-evaluated, many people do not want to come forward with information on a particular story, in concern that their name will be leaked, stronger and more ‘set in stone’ rules for protecting sources would increase the amount of trust the public give to journalists. By doing this people are more likely to come forward with information, which in some cases is to help police cases, that is only if journalists can become more trustworthy with their sources.
Trust in journalists also has a big impact on politics and the public’s attitude to staying engaged with what is happening in their country. So, it is important that journalists work on regaining trust throughout all media outlets, otherwise those who do decide to disengage may choose to not vote/learn about politics, which doesn’t just affect journalists but affects how the world works.
Within journalism and politics, left wing, right wing and political debate are aspects in which can decrease trust between journalist and the public, depending on which party they lead towards. In this, for example, The Guardian is Labour, heading towards centre-left. This being said, means that those who are right wing will not trust or believe anything written. To resolve this would be to remain neutral within politics, giving facts but not being bias. This can be difficult for the news outlet depending on ownership and whom they are being funded by.
In short, yes, local journalism is in crisis, especially in recent decades. Local journalism is journalism that covers events in a local area that would not affect the rest of the world, for example covering a new shop opening in a small town, or a festival happening in that particular area. Some examples of local journalism are the Bournemouth Echo and Devon Live. Both of these news outlets publish and cover events that more or less only affect those areas for example Bournemouth Echo publish “Large queues form at Bournemouth’s Build-A-Bear for unique offer” on July 12th 2018. An article like this, clearly does not affect many outside of Bournemouth. As these stories do not affect many people, local journalism is in crisis.
Local journalism is needed to inform ‘locals’ on things going on, for example Devon Live publishes daily about road closures, weather warnings and more. So, all in all local news outlets are still really important, especially for somewhere newspapers are their only form of getting their news.
Local journalism often has a lot more ‘human-interest’ stories that are more relatable to individuals within a particular area, there are many advantages and challenges to local journalism which are putting some local media outlets are risk.
One main benefit of local journalism is that they captivate a more localized angle which is one huge reason while local journalism is still viable. This is because those within the local area are more likely to read this news outlets because the events covered are affecting them personally. Local papers and other news outlets more than likely cut out all the international stories and so those are more likely to read as they do not have to rifle through stories they are not as bothered about.
However; that being said, there are far more challenges to local journalism which is making it harder and harder for them to stay afloat. One reason why fewer and fewer people are reading local news is because it is not the “juicy” stuff, no big crimes, huge events or political debate it is all small-town stories which many are not interested in. Some crimes do get put within the local papers, but only if they happened within the local circle in which that newspaper writes on, otherwise it is daily news on upcoming events, jobs, shops opening/closing and human-interest stories.
One challenge that is having a big effect on localized journalism is funding. News outlets like BBC, Sky and The Times get a lot more funding because they have a bigger circulation and so get a lot more funding, from charities, lotteries and public funding. (Including people watching, reading and buying what the media outlet is creating.) However; for local papers, it is a lot more challenging to get the funding they need to continue their outlet because they do not get the circulation or readership they need.
Although funding is still an issue for many local journalists, from 2017 the BBC have agreed to spend £8m a year funding 150 local reporters keeping the outlets afloat. Local outlets are catered to those within that area, meaning anyone outside that place will not help fund such journalism. As local papers are catered to those within a certain area, those who do not live there and are not affected by those news events will not be interested in reading a local newspaper, for example somebody from London will not be interested in reading the Bournemouth Echo.
On the other side, although local journalism is in crisis, there is still a call to keep these news outlets running, one reason why is because they can appear less politically bias and they cater their stories so they become more relatable to the public. For example, if they are completely independent and fund themselves, they will not be influenced by anyone ‘higher up’ who may be funding those bigger papers. Meaning local journalism remains politically neutral.
Social media is also having a big impact on local journalism, social media and digital journalism has had an increased interest throughout the last decade, but for some newspapers are their only source of news and online versions do not interest them. Younger generations however, are cutting out the local print news as they are in the digital age and online versions are easier and more convenient to read, it is also cheaper to run and easier to advertise.
Dr Martin Moore, director of the Centre for the Study of Media, Communications and Power at King’s College London published a report on the local journalism crisis (Moore and Ramsey 2018) saying that those in local towns where their papers have closed down have suffered from a “democracy Deficit” and the public have had an increased distrust in public bodies, he also suggested they are becoming less informed and less interested in the news.
Although we can all have our own social media accounts it removes the engagement and communal voice from the news being written. The rise in big news outlets, for example SKY and BBC. The bigger these news outlets get the more irrelevant local news outlets become because the BBC and Sky cover most/everything happening around the world, however is misses the local angle. However, with the bigger journalism outlets getting the funding, circulation and attention, the media cannot afford to keep the local one’s open.
There are a lot of consequences to local journalism being on the decline. One most importantly is lack of jobs, many rely on local papers and news outlets for work. Local outlets closing means many journalists are having to look in other places for jobs. This means a lot of journalists will have to commute to areas where bigger outlets are (i.e BBC)
The digital age is having a huge effect on local journalism too, with everything being online, people are becoming less and less interested in getting paper copies, this being said has cause many local journalism centres to close. Everybody can have social media accounts and follow online pages like Bournemouth Echo Facebook page, Twitter account and more to get their news. They can also use the Bournemouth Echo website, being online is a good way to ensure local news outlets stay within the loop and keep to the needs of a changing age, however this is putting local ‘paper’ journalism into an even deeper crisis.
Finally, continuing with the digital age, advertising has been a huge part of local newspapers losing revenue. Rupert Murdoch believes that advertising revenue was a ‘river of gold’ however now huge amounts of advertising is done online, through google, through social media, emails and other online outlets, however local newspapers used to rely on hat revenue to stay afloat, without this income many places have already had to close.
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