Sunday, August 06, 2006

About trust and transparency

Here's a link to a story from AP about the survey that found half the adults in America believing that there were WMDs in Iraq just before our invasion.

My own view is reflected in this quote:
"I'm flabbergasted," said Michael Massing, a media critic whose writings dissected the largely unquestioning U.S. news reporting on the Bush administration's shaky WMD claims in 2002-03.

"This finding just has to cause despair among those of us who hope for an informed public able to draw reasonable conclusions based on evidence," Massing said.

So, what are we going to do about this?

We talked about transparency and wasy to "build and maintain reader trust" at a McClatchy meeting about a year ago. I made some notes about ideas that surfaced, including these:

• Greater transparency however possible
o Invite readers to a-1 budget meetings
o Pubish statement of purpose regularly
• On front page?
o Ask readers to hold us accountable
o Public editors
o Accuracy questionnaires
• Use web as authentication (eg publish transcripts, back-up documentation for controversial stories)
• Find ways to talk with readers when there’s no current crisis or problem
• Webcast endorsement interviews at editorial board?
• Tell readers about news staff credentials (house ads? Bio blurbs?)
• Use the “how we got this story” form to explain our process more often
Are you doing or thinking about other things that could help?

–Howard Weaver

1 comment:

  1. Howard:

    When I read "1984," I figured Orwell's point was that the government would dupe the people into whatever it wanted them to believe.

    These latest trends lead me to believe that it's the people who are duping themselves, and the government just smiles and takes advantage.

    We need to try any and all means to reach readers and non-readers. I'm going on a local radio talk show on Friday morning, where I'll be the raw meat appetizer for listeners waiting for Rush Limbaugh in the following hour.

    We have to win back the support of the public one reader, one listener, one blogger at a time.