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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The importance of trust in journalism

This past weekend during our editorial spring training my staff and I had a discussion about trust.

We talked about what trust in a newsroom looks like. What trust between a reporter and their sources looks like. And what trust between a paper and its audience looks like.

There’s no question — it’s a difficult time for the media, both as a media consumer and a media producer. Facebook feeds are filled with fake news. Major news sources are publishing unverifiable information. Speculation of gatekeeping, biased media and unfair reporting is rampant.

Gallup, a polling service, has been polling the public on their opinions of mass media since the 70’s. This was a great time to be a reporter: Print was still dominant, the Watergate scandal served as the golden standard and trust in the media sat at 72 percent in 1976.

In September of 2016 — before the election results rolled in, so vastly different than what most papers predicted — that number had dropped to an all time low: Just 32 percent of Americans trusted the media. I can only speculate that number has since dropped further.

And that loss of trust, for the most part, is not unjustified, either. In this age, it’s hard to know what to trust. Anyone can post something on a blog. Many media outlets’ main goal is page views and flamboyant or misleading headlines garner those. Papers are a business and you can’t always trust the motivations of the corporations that run many of them.

We aren’t blind to those realities at The Battalion. It would be incredibly naive and disingenuous of us, many of whom are working toward journalism careers, to bury our heads in the sand and say “Everything is fine.”

Rather, we view those as challenges to overcome. We know we must be especially diligent in our reporting in order to overcome the stigmas surrounding the business. We know that trust is very easy to lose, and very difficult to gain — as it should be. We know that just because we say we’re trustworthy it doesn’t mean that it’s so.

While we may stumble, we will not lose our way. So continue to be critical. Let me know when we’ve done something to lose that trust. My email is [email protected].
Trust is earned and that’s the currency we’ve chosen to deal in this semester. We’ll be trying to gain your trust not through a sense that we’re entitled to it, but with the knowledge that we must work to receive it and work harder to keep it.
Sam King is a communication senior and editor-in-chief of The Battalion. 

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