Building news savvy: Best practices


Emphasizing the mission


The Enid News & Eagle, with the Trusting News project, tested a strategy to distance local journalists from the national outlets people are usually thinking of when they complain about “the media.” For example: When the News & Eagle shared an article about kindergarten students via Facebook, it noted “these are the kind of stories found in a local newspaper.” Other posts, including this one, explain its local mission — even using the hashtags #hometownENE and #NOTmainstreammedia.


Led by engagement strategist Joy Mayer, Trusting News is a Reynolds Journalism Institute research project. Its first phase tested trust-building strategies with 14 newsrooms — among them, the News & Eagle, a top news source for Enid, Oklahoma, for more than 120 years. Trusting News shares results on a searchable web portal. The project’s second phase, launched in November 2017, involves 30 newsrooms.


Not everything will work at any given place. News & Eagle editors said 19 tests during the first phase were “especially successful” or ideas to steal. A favorite: the Trusting News theme “Deploy Your Fans,” which, among other things, urges news organizations to invite users to “join you in your mission to make the world better informed” by encouraging sharing of reliable news. But 16 other tests “fell flat,” including these efforts.


Check out the Trusting News tip sheet on how to distinguish yourself from the so-called “media.” The team recommends news organizations “look for chances to explain who you are, what you do and why you’re here — your motivations and purpose. … Communicate your values (and therefore your value).” If you are writing (or rewriting) your mission statement, you can borrow or adapt some of the ideas. Trusting News posts updates on Medium.




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