Wick Communications

What is the other 15 percent thinking?

In Accuracy on July 7, 2016 at 2:19 pm

building trust

The statistic you see above comes from research by the Media Insight Project, which was initiated by the American Press Institute and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research earlier this year. Editor and Publisher printed it this month along with other such tidbits.

So, I have a question: What do the other 15 percent of adults say builds trust, if not accuracy?

Accuracy is a solid-sounding word that is a bit more nebulous in practice. Is your newspaper accurate? All the time? OK, is that because you fail to tackle more difficult subjects that would court inaccuracy? Is the New York Times more accurate than your newspaper? Is it maybe 2 percent more accurate?

See? Accuracy is difficult to quantify and yet it is the very core of credibility. It is that thing without which you have nothing.

I fear that we put too little emphasis on accuracy today. I mean industry-wide. All those copy editors and middle-management types newspapers let go over the last decade or so? They were there, in large part, to assure the newspaper was accurate and credible, and that it didn’t shy away from Big Things. The bet was that we could shed that layer and no one would be the wiser.

When content becomes a commodity it’s easy to forget why we pull on our adult clothes every morning. If we are more concerned with shoveling the stuff into the blast furnace that is the world wide web than revealing an accurate portrayal of the world around us, our jobs become meaningless. And that is a road unworthy of our brief journey here on planet earth. …

All this because I wondered about that other 15 percent. What do they say is the critical reason they trust a news source? Is it celebrity talking heads? Cat videos? Coupons? What do they value more than accuracy?

If I appear worried about the fate of the free world today, it’s for thinking about that other 15 percent.

Clay

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