The people running the media are the problem

“It’s the safest prediction I could make beyond the sun coming up in the morning: You won’t fix this.”

This month, I spent a week surrounded by bright, well-meaning journalism and tech thinkers. Session after session, day after day, conversations kept coming back to these questions: How do we restore trust in media? How do we reach Middle America? What do we do about fake news?

matt-waiteHere’s my prediction for 2017. It’s the safest prediction I could make beyond the sun coming up in the morning. It’s aimed right at the people who run news organizations.

You won’t fix this. Any of this. Not in 2017. Not soon.

You won’t fix trust in news because…

You won’t fix how news gets made because…

You won’t fix how you hire senior leadership to diversify your thinking because…

You won’t fix what stories are selected because…

You won’t change who you hire to do the stories because…

You won’t fix the ways that stories are written to be more transparent and more directly sourced to give people a reason to trust you because…

You won’t fix the lack of training in newsrooms that could retrain reporters to source stories more explicitly because…

You won’t fix the content management systems to require sourcing on stories to be transparent and structured and visible because…

You won’t fix the technology leadership in the company because…

You won’t fix the thinking that makes you believe you’re not a technology company because…

You won’t fix the belief that trust and fake news is Google and Facebook’s problems and not yours because…

You still don’t believe you’re the problem.

Wake me when you do.

Matt Waite is founder of the Drone Journalism Lab and a journalism professor at the University of Nebraska.

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