How to take charge of your news environment to reduce 2021 anxiety

by | Jan 4, 2021 | Public Relations

People want to be informed, but are overwhelmed by the flood of news and deeply worried about information imposters, according to new research from news transparency consortium The Trust Project, which offers 5 questions you can ask to more easily identify reliable and impartial news.

“Staying informed has become like trying to swim in an ocean of stinging jellyfish,” said Sally Lehrman, founder and CEO of the Trust Project, in a news release. “People are struggling to keep up with the rapidly evolving news cycle and at the same time, correctly interpret and act on the information they see. This is provoking further anxiety in an already difficult year.”

A recent Ipsos-Trust Project survey found that globally, most people (82 percent) value trustworthy news and seek it out. And in over 30 Trust Project interviews in the U.S., Europe, Canada and Australia, people recounted diligent efforts to stay informed, even researching facts in news stories to check their accuracy. Many voiced a strong desire to contribute to society and said it is one reason accurate news matters.

“We’re encouraged that so many people recognize the value of reliable news,” Lehrman said. “But they may not realize the powerful role they themselves can play in maintaining a healthy information environment that prioritizes honesty and substance.”

The Trust Project developed five questions you can ask in the new year to identify reliable news and sources:

1. Does the news organization tell you who they are?

Do they clearly describe who owns and funds them, publish their ethics code and other guidelines, and tell you their mission and news priorities?

2. Do you see diversity?

What are the newsroom’s efforts and commitments to bring in diverse perspectives across race, class, generation, geography, gender, sexual orientation and ideology?

3. Is it news or opinion?

Is the story designed to inform you or convince you? If it’s trustworthy journalism, the story’s purpose is to help you develop your own opinions.

4. Can you identify the sources?

Does the journalist clearly present their sources and why they are credible? Do they give you names and dates for documents? Do you see more than one source for the claims in the story?

5. Is the expertise of the journalist clear?

Do they know your community, use solid evidence, report with care and apply strict standards?

Use these five steps, developed from the Trust Project’s 8 Trust Indicators, to ease your news overwhelm. If you don’t find answers, go elsewhere or ask the site to be more transparent. You’ll know you’re choosing reliable news and, by doing so, helping to build a healthier news ecosystem for everyone.

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Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 12 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richardc@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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