What have we done for you lately?

“How does your news organization help audiences cut through the noise to get the information they need to civically empower themselves?”

Being based at a journalism school, I’m constantly reminded of why people are drawn to journalism: to have a platform from which to make the world a better place, especially when we crave ways to reconnect with our own sense of humanity.

Throughout the pandemic, George Floyd, and the U.S. presidential election, there have been countless opportunities for us to help the world understand why journalism is a vital public service. But in 2021, the newsrooms that thrive will be those that leverage the moment to make the case for journalism that helps save lives and sticks up for democracy.

Here are a few questions newsrooms should be able to answer in a substantive way to ensure their own relevance and sustainability for 2021:

  • How has your news organization contributed to healing the civic discourse in 2021? How have your journalists contributed to repairing the rhetorical toxicity that’s been normalized over the past four years?
  • How has your news organization prioritized credibility with its communities of coverage? How has it measured trust from these communities — surveys, conversations, outreach? How do these metrics translate in performance evaluations for reporters and editors?
  • How does your news organization help audiences cut through the noise to get the information they need to civically empower themselves? How do you measure that? How do you reward journalists and teams who do it effectively?
  • How does your news organization audit budget decisions to reflect putting your community interests first, including having their stories told responsibly and accurately? If a reporter clearly shows a skillset that strengthens trust and credibility with the audiences you serve, do you reward or punish them? (That includes revisiting how your journalists show up on Twitter.)

I see a lot of lone journalists doing this work, but I believe that if a news organization knew how to institutionally answer these questions, we could broaden how we think about sustainability — not only through memberships and subscriptions, but also through new philanthropic avenues that seek to strengthen communities and can see how journalism is a part of that formula.

I see all the pain we’ve collectively endured in 2020 as an opportunity for 2021 — but not unless we get real when it comes to re-evaluating our values and priorities, and how they translate to actual policies and newsroom-wide decision-making.

Jennifer Choi is managing director of the News Integrity Initiative and equity initiatives director at CUNY’s Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism.

Being based at a journalism school, I’m constantly reminded of why people are drawn to journalism: to have a platform from which to make the world a better place, especially when we crave ways to reconnect with our own sense of humanity.

Throughout the pandemic, George Floyd, and the U.S. presidential election, there have been countless opportunities for us to help the world understand why journalism is a vital public service. But in 2021, the newsrooms that thrive will be those that leverage the moment to make the case for journalism that helps save lives and sticks up for democracy.

Here are a few questions newsrooms should be able to answer in a substantive way to ensure their own relevance and sustainability for 2021:

  • How has your news organization contributed to healing the civic discourse in 2021? How have your journalists contributed to repairing the rhetorical toxicity that’s been normalized over the past four years?
  • How has your news organization prioritized credibility with its communities of coverage? How has it measured trust from these communities — surveys, conversations, outreach? How do these metrics translate in performance evaluations for reporters and editors?
  • How does your news organization help audiences cut through the noise to get the information they need to civically empower themselves? How do you measure that? How do you reward journalists and teams who do it effectively?
  • How does your news organization audit budget decisions to reflect putting your community interests first, including having their stories told responsibly and accurately? If a reporter clearly shows a skillset that strengthens trust and credibility with the audiences you serve, do you reward or punish them? (That includes revisiting how your journalists show up on Twitter.)

I see a lot of lone journalists doing this work, but I believe that if a news organization knew how to institutionally answer these questions, we could broaden how we think about sustainability — not only through memberships and subscriptions, but also through new philanthropic avenues that seek to strengthen communities and can see how journalism is a part of that formula.

I see all the pain we’ve collectively endured in 2020 as an opportunity for 2021 — but not unless we get real when it comes to re-evaluating our values and priorities, and how they translate to actual policies and newsroom-wide decision-making.

Jennifer Choi is managing director of the News Integrity Initiative and equity initiatives director at CUNY’s Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism.

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