Be The Forum On This Newsroom Debate

If ever there was a topic to borrow for a newspaper association convention or news workshop, it’s the Knight Foundation’s “Rebuilding Trust in America: The Challenge for Journalists.”
It first aired March 16.

Resist the urge to dismiss views from “big media.”

Trust is a local value as well.

By many accounts, the debate over objectivity is raging in newsrooms as generational and society change occurs, once-dependable institutions are challenged, misinformation perpetuates online, and politics remain divisive.

First, do this:

Watch the Knight program here.

Second, read this commentary, “A Reckoning Over Objectivity, Lead by Black Journalists,” written by Pulitzer Prize-winning Wesley Lowery, one of the Knight panelists.

Then, orchestrate programs with those in your state or province already dealing with the disagreements over objectivity, fairness, identity, journalism’s self-imposed limitations, advocacy, commentary and Op/Eds, and the reporting of truth. (Feel free to add to this list.)

Embedded in the overall debate is the call for newsrooms’ diversity to reflect communities they serve.

The Knight program also mentioned legislative actions in various statehouses confronting election security lapse or voter suppression attempts. What’s the responsibility of the reporting in these controversies?

The Knight program started with a discussion involving journalists from the Los Angles Times, “60 Minutes,” and CNN.

It added questions from student journalists attending college who appeared on screen one by one.
Pay particular attention to what’s on the minds of tomorrow’s newsroom leaders.

In all, the Knight format can be adapted by program organizers during the spring batch of conferences.

Just don’t ignore the debate.

It would be interesting to see whether the subsequent conversations are similar or different depending on issues in the respective states and provinces.

Judging from the Knight program, you may need more than one discussion to fully digest the issues and the work ahead.

Extra credit goes to associations already helping to rebuild trust where it’s needed. That’s Relevance in 2021.

-Tom Silvestri

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