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Janet Coats and Kendall Moe Author Article on How Word Choice Can Affect Media Trust

Janet Coats, managing director of UF’s Consortium on Trust in Media and Technology (CTMT), and Kendall Moe, CTMT senior project manager, are the co-authors of “Choose Your Words Wisely: The Role of Language in Media Trust” published in the InContext newsletter by Digital Content Next on Nov. 16.

In the article, the authors examine how to get to the root of trust issues and the impact of word choices and perceived bias. They highlight a new machine-learning tool being developed by the Consortium called Authentically. Journalists will be able to use it to identify potentially biased language and help them make more intentional word choices.

According to the authors, “It is understandable that media organizations believe that audience perception of bias can be addressed through transparency efforts focused on the way journalists report and disseminate the news. Unfortunately, there’s a fundamental element of storytelling that may have a much bigger impact on the appearance of bias: word choice.”

They add, “While the pursuit of trust is indeed a noble one, it feels more ambitious than the current climate allows. Therefore, journalists should ask the question: Is trust entirely in my control? And if not, what is? Our work has steered us toward focusing on what can be controlled: authenticity, intentionality and precision. We believe these elements can serve as the building blocks that lead to greater trust.”

Posted: November 16, 2023
Category: College News, Trust News
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