This article appeared in the January 11, 2021 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 01/11 edition

With service and kindness, reporters push back

Jose Luis Magana/AP
Demonstrators break TV equipment outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. The positioning of legitimate media outlets as being manipulators of facts has been a central component of disinformation campaigns.
Clayton Collins
Director of Editorial Innovation

The work of ensuring accountability and consequences, at all levels, for last Wednesday’s insurrection at the U.S. Capitol deepens.

One effort targets the root. Social media platforms have acted to stem deadly disinformation. (See our third story, below.) Now, besides transparency and persistence, what could help restore trust in fact-based news? Maybe a little humanization. 

Some members of the media – called “enemies of the people,” “fake news,” “soft targets,” and worse – are pursuing a vital role, especially in local news. It goes far beyond traditional service journalism. It exhibits the heart of public service. 

Andy Larsen, a Utah reporter, started a holiday help fund with $165.84 that his mother found stashed in his childhood bedroom. He tweeted about his plan to use it to ease families’ strain. Then donors chipped in. He would end up distributing $55,000 to people facing pandemic-depleted holidays, reported The Washington Post

“It was important to me to verify every story,” he says, “and help as many people as possible.”

Having a journalist’s skill set helps. CD Davidson-Hiers, a Florida reporter, kept seeing messages from readers about COVID-19 vaccinations. Her small paper has no dedicated health beat so she offered to run down answers. More than 150 readers took her up on that within days, according to Poynter. She has helped seniors with applications and online forms. She follows up. She reassures.

“There’s a lot of murk to wade through,” she says. But “to have people call me directly now with questions, real questions, this feels like why I got into this profession.”

This article appeared in the January 11, 2021 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 01/11 edition
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.