Bad news for journalists: The public doesn’t share our values. But there’s hope

By | April 14, 2021

Margaret Sullivan writes:

Ask almost any group of journalists to name the core values of their profession, and they’ll probably deliver a list like this:

Oversight. We’re the watchdogs keeping an eye on government officials and other powerful people and institutions.

Transparency. We believe it’s best to put information out in the open, not keep it hidden.

Factuality. It’s crucial to provide as much accurate information as possible to get to the truth.

Spotlighting wrongdoing. We think society’s problems are best solved by exposing them to public criticism.

Giving a voice to the voiceless. It’s our job to advocate for those lacking power or social standing.

These ideas are so ingrained that we have adopted certain aphorisms to express them. “Sunlight is the best disinfectant,” we might observe. “Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable,” we counsel each other.

“Journalism is a tribe,” said Tom Rosenstiel, executive director of the American Press Institute. “These are our core values, and we think that everybody shares them.”

But, according to some major new research released today, these values can be a turnoff for the general public. And it suggests that journalists who want to reach the broadest audience and have the greatest impact should consider changing how they think about and present their work. [Continue reading…]

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