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Editorial: News media must work to gain trust of audience

Sometimes reporters don’t have all of the information before running a story. The race to be first on broadcasting big news can be a cutthroat competition, and anything done in a rush is bound to contain errors.

Sometimes the errors are an accident, but other times they are made out of careless haste.

The most recent social uproar against media has been over the incident in Rio de Janeiro, where four Olympic swimmers were accused of vandalism and lying. This could have been avoided if the right reporters were on the case from the start.

The story began as a report of the robbery of four men, then it evolved into a story of the four Olympians vandalizing a bathroom and security demanding payment for the damages. However, one of USA TODAY’s sports videographers carefully looked over the security footage to reveal the bathroom had not been vandalized at all.

The whole story has become a mess of information and now readers are confused.

It is our responsibility as reporters to provide the news accurately above anything else, but unfortunately, the desire for publicity corrupts some agencies.

In the end inaccuracy comes back to bite as the public discovers the truth, leaving an agency that reported false or misleading information marked as untrustworthy.

Yet, how is the public supposed to know whom to trust before the fame-biters are revealed by a scandal? Researching helps but that’s supposed to be the reporter’s job. Not many people have the time to dig up the details of current events on their own. Therefore, trust needs to be built and maintained between a provider and its audience.

In order to gain a reader’s trust, the agency should always cite sources; this is also to prevent plagiarism. Online articles could also benefit by providing links to more information and other ways for a reader to easily and quickly see that the information is coming from a reliable source.

Though the readers are not expected to do the research in order to get reliable news, they need to give feedback so that the reporters who do all of the work can improve themselves.

Online communities need to be formed and used so that individuals can give suggestions for stories. Reporters cannot be everywhere at all times, and as a result, some stories go uncovered. The quality of a news agency can be greatly improved if readers start providing ideas for reporters to investigate.

Open-source reporting is when an agency releases story ideas before publishing them so the community can give input. essentially it’s a way for a story to be more transparent. A reader shouldn’t trust a story that seems as though it’s hiding details.

However, open-sourcing does not work if the audience does not do their part. Once a story is presented, individuals need to use the platforms provided by the agencies, i.e. Twitter, Instagram, etc., to give input.

Essentially, the amount of trust between a provider and its audience all comes down to the amount of work each is willing to put in. If agencies don’t want their stories to be transparent, they can’t expect their audience to trust them. If readers don’t want to use the platforms provided for them, they can’t expect their voice to be heard.

If you want your voice heard as a VSU student, give us at the Spectator feedback and suggestions via our Twitter, (@VSUSpectator and @VSUSpecSports; Facebook.com/VSUSpectator) and comment sections under stories.

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