Friday, November 20, 2009...9:30 am

Building trust online: transparency and process journalism

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Part 1;    Part 2;    Part 3;    Part 4;    Part 5;
Last in this series of videos and write-ups of Reed Business Information editorial development director Karl Schneider’s talk to journalism students at UCA Farnham.

The discussion comes as a result of a typically trenchant question from pugnacious student newspaper editor Michael Copus.
It’s one that probably bothers all journalists faced with the prospect of working under the glare of audience visibility. What happens when you screw up and post information immediately that then turns out to be, in Michael’s apt words, “a load of bollocks”?
Does posting inaccurate information undermine your credibility and that of your brand?
It can do – but it depends how you deal with it

Be open

  • The audience understands you are human
  • If you’re open and transparent, they will forgive you
  • You can instantly correct your online posts

Best practice is to leave the error in place, but crossed out. This provides visual evidence not only of your willingness to correct mistakes – but also of the proportion of material that is right.
It provides more credibility as a news source – unless you are making errors all the time.

“Clearly, over time, if you’re covering a beat and half of everything you say turns out to be wrong, then absolutely it undermines your credibility”
Karl Schneider

Doesn’t remove the need for good journalism

  • Checking facts
  • Knowing how to gather information
  • Developing good judgement about what you can publish and when

The boundary of where this point lies has changed thanks to the web – rapid publishing and rapid retraction.

“Often, the importance of getting stuff published early outweighs the risk of getting it wrong – as long as you’re honest”
Karl Schneider

Give the audience some context – let them be the judge of how valid and useful it is.
Journalists are learning how to use the medium – audiences are learning how to consume it.
Watch the tech media and the tech audience to see how journalism will develop – it’s at the cutting edge of practice.
Part 1;    Part 2;    Part 3;    Part 4;    Part 5;

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