The last few years have presented a host of trust-related challenges for the digital news industry. Polarized political situations have fueled the emergence of misinformation in many countries and it’s more difficult than ever to sustain a business focused on quality journalism. Shifts in revenue sources for publishers, the demise of local news outlets, and the increase of so-called news from social media platforms brings us to a precarious tipping point. Winning trust back from news consumers requires careful consideration and active listening.
Qualities in news that inspire trust
When asked to explain the qualities of trustworthy journalism via interviews with journalists in The Trusting News Project, news consumers named traits of honesty, depth in coverage, and journalism that empowers readers.
Most notable, the #1 attribute identified as key to trustworthy journalism was balance. Some respondents used this term to describe a need for diversity of opinions, while others sought out balance by reading news from multiple sources.
We agree. Presenting news that reflects different perspectives and voices can play a critical role in bridging the trust gap. Toward that end, Microsoft News has released a new feature called Spotlight. This feature can be found on Microsoft Edge in the U.S. and soon on MSN.com and in multiple countries worldwide. As news breaks around complex or controversial issues, Spotlight provides readers with a way to easily navigate a news event with quick explainers, as well as depth in coverage representing multiple views and publisher sources.
The experience is all about high-quality journalism from the world’s most trusted publishers.
It’s about exposure of diverse perspectives and voices, giving readers the opportunity to explore all sides of an issue.
For example, this Spotlight explores the release of the Mueller Report, providing reporting from CNN, The New York Times, National Review, Law & Crime and others.
In another example, news and opinions surrounding allegations of inappropriate touching by Joe Biden came from sources like FOX News, The Daily Beast, The Hill, and Associated Press. Journalists provided insights into the former VP’s behavior, as well as reactions from both sides of the aisle.
No doubt, the dialogue around trust in news must continue with a commitment from journalists and publishers to listen and act with integrity. News organizations must earn trust daily, demonstrating the qualities that readers expect in trustworthy journalism.
Balance in news reporting is only part of the puzzle. Those interviewed in The Trusting News Project stressed the importance of fact-checking, transparency, and credibility of sources as well. Readers want journalism to go beyond the simple facts to help them understand the big picture and live better lives.
Microsoft News continues to delve into reader sentiment signals and engagement patterns, poll data, and research findings on the topic of trust. We’re committed to the conversation and to the continued delivery of trustworthy journalism for a well-informed society.
Further reading: The Trusting News Project Report, research provided by Trusting News. These efforts are funded by the Reynolds Journalism Institute, the American Press Institute, Democracy Fund and the Knight Foundation.