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Today's trust tip: When you're right and other news outlets are wrong, tell your audience

Hi there. Joy here.

Isn't it frustrating to watch news outlets get something dead wrong that you worked hard to get right? 

It's important that we correct misinformation, especially on topics we have expertise in. It's something we can do without spitefulness, and often without even naming the journalists who are at fault. 

This weekend, as I and other Floridians followed hurricane coverage from local, state and national outlets, I was excited to see this tweet from WMBB, a station in Panama City. 

In a video, two evening anchors (Amy Hoyt and Jerry Brown) conveyed these points: 

  • We've been in this business a long time, and accuracy is at the heart of what we do.
  • We've heard too many national outlets say Dorian could be the worst hurricane to hit Florida since Hurricane Andrew in 1992, but that's not true.
  • We covered Hurricane Michael last year, and our community was devastated. It's still recovering. 
  • We hope the people in Dorian's path don't have to live our horror. 

With this one-minute video, the journalists established themselves as being a part of and on the side of their local community. As locals, they expressed how they were annoyed and insulted that their experience was being overlooked. 

And boy, did their community relate to it. Scroll through the replies to the tweet if you want to see what local appreciation can look like. This one is typical. 

We can all sympathize with journalists who get it wrong, and I know I have a mental list of my own cringe-worthy errors. But when other journalists are spreading misinformation, our loyalty is to our communities, not to the egos in our industry. 

TRY THIS: Think about the coverage you invest most heavily in — your franchise topics. That could be a location, a beat or a subject matter. What are you better at than anyone else? Then make a list of common misconceptions about those topics. Look for ways to correct misinformation and make your audience smarter while increasing respect for the expertise you bring to the table. This can be done from within a story, in a social post, in a newsletter — anywhere you're communicating about the topic. Think of it as an opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to getting it right and being on the side of facts. 

— Joy Mayer, Trusting News director

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Trusting News aims to demystify trust in news and empower journalists to take responsibility for actively demonstrating credibility and earning trust. It is a project of the Reynolds Journalism Institute and the American Press Institute

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