Restoring Trust in Journalism: An Education Prescription
The practice of journalism faces a myriad of challenges, including a continual stream of complaints about the credibility of today’s news. The advent of “fake news” has tarnished the longstanding trust and transparency considered the foundation of journalism.
To combat this trend, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications Journalism Professor Kim Walsh-Childers and colleagues drafted recommendations for teaching journalism students to develop the critical thinking and technical skills they will need to help rebuild trust. The goal is to train budding journalists to produce and share content that is independent, accurate, and fair while developing relationships with audiences that reflect accountability, respect, and understanding.
Drawing from workshops at the 2019 World Journalism Education Congress, the article’s authors suggest that journalism schools consider “across-the-curriculum” modules to build trust-building skills across disciplines. They also suggest that journalism students be taught not only to detect misinformation, malinformation and disinformation, but also to be encouraged to advocate against the practice among their colleagues.
The international group of journalism educators agreed that students also must learn how people receive and process information, how they become resistant to facts, and how to present information in ways less likely to activate existing biases. The group’s final recommendation is that students learn how to interact creatively and constructively with audiences and communities as well as to be able to connect with people, especially those from communities that have been traditionally misrepresented.
Ultimately, students need to be able to evaluate and validate evidence and then frame the resulting story with objective reporting. Future research can focus on the development of specific projects and assignments to help student journalists learn to navigate the evolution of journalism.
The original article, “Restoring Trust in Journalism: An Education Prescription,” was published in Journalism and Mass Communication Educator on Feb. 25, 2020.
Authors: Katherine Reed, Kim Walsh-Childers, Kenneth Fischer, Bill Davie.
This summary was written by Dana Hackley, Ph.D.