Trust Issues

Yesterday posted an article with data from an Ipsos MORI poll that says only 21% of British adults trust journalists to tell the truth, and 40% of Americans trust media to report the news full, accurately, and fairly, which is a new record low. There are a lot of interesting and troubling ideas about this lack of trust from the people journalism is — idealistically — meant to serve and inform.

Differences & Problems

First of all, I think there is a pretty big difference between “trusting journalists to tell the truth” and “trusting the media to report fairly, fully, and accurately.” Were the British and the Americans in the poll posed different questions, or perhaps a series of different questions? Did Americans trust individual journalists to tell the truth? Would the data be different under that question?

The article does mention that journalists in particular fared better than people who sell insurance and cars as far as honesty and ethics go — which isn’t saying much as I imagine people consider the role of a salesman of things like cars and insurance more focused on making a sale (even if it means taking advantage of a customer’s lack of knowledge on the issue), so at least American don’t seem to think journalists will do anything to sell a paper. There were multiple aspects of the poll I think Poynter could have explained better or elaborated on, as the short article brought up a lot more questions than it answered as far as what this data means, and I will bring up these questions as I find them.

British Cynicism

Before hitting home about American journalists, I was shocked by the low number of Britons who trust journalists to even tell the truth. Does that mean the vast majority of Britons think journalists are actually lying to them, on purpose? Having studied some of the differences between American and British journalism, I wonder if who Britons consider ‘journalists’ differs than the American idea. After all, the article goes on to mention TV anchors or “news readers” had 69% trusting them to be truthful.

Why the huge difference? Do the British consider news readers’ role to do just that — simply read the news — and not create it? Or do they think more highly of those types of journalists versus print/online journalists? (I cannot help but remember a line from V for Vendetta: “Our job is to report the news, not fabricate it. That’s the government’s job.”)



Part of what might explain this are two forms of news that exist in the UK that are rather different than what we have in the US. One is the tabloids, which seem to look like newspapers, but employ the practices of constant huge, bold, underlined headlines with huge pictures and very little content, making People Magazine (in my opinion) look professional in comparison. The Sun has even featured a profile of a woman on page three (who by the way, in the picture is always topless, except perhaps on Sundays). It would not surprise me if Britons did not trust that kind of journalist. On the other hand, there are government run news organizations like the BBC — a concept I think Americans would have a hard time swallowing in the US — that seem well respected, trusted, and legitimate. I would not be surprised if Britons simply trusted broadcast journalists more because the greater quality of journalism they experience from broadcast, while print (although having better sources like The Guardian) includes tabloids who have faced problems like the phone hacking scandal.

In the States: “the media” vs. journalists

If the British have the phone hacking scandal in recent memory to lower their trust in journalists, Americans have the recent election as a reminder of the bipartisanship reflected in the media that would lower their trust in fair, accurate, complete reporting. With the rising popularity of obviously slanted news organizations like Fox News and MSNBC (whether or not they admit to be so), Americans might trust the media to give niche audiences what they want and spin the facts and the truth in a way that is incomplete and unfair. It makes sense that even if that is a capitalist view, it’s at least better than car and insurance salespeople — there is some value in having both sides of the story told, even if it’s by competing or different news sources. But that doesn’t mean American expect any given news source in the big concept of “the media” is going to be telling them the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help them God.

What the Poynter article also fails to mention is what Americans thought of their “news readers,” those broadcast anchors, who are often also reporters. Do Americans put greater trust in certain forms of journalism than others? (It is impossible to go through journalism or television classes without hearing that Walter Cronkite was once “the most trusted man in America.”) Not trusting to get the fair, accurate, complete truth from “the media” seems to paint a general skepticism of news sources across the board, but is different faith put into The New York Times versus CNN? What about print versus online articles? In reference to the British skepticism, Poynter uses the following quote:

“Media-watchers believe, however, that in an era of rapid technological change, the trust issue goes wider than the morally dubious practices of some of the red-top newspapers in Britain.”

But what do the rapid technological changes mean for media consumption and trust of the truth of the reporting? The article doesn’t elaborate. Some context to other similar articles is given by links at the bottom, including Pew: 75% of Americans say journalists can’t get their facts straightGallup: Americans mistrust media more than ever, and 24% of the public gives journalists ‘high’ ethics rating, which can give more context and light on the subject of America’s ongoing trust/mistrust of the media.


Is there one? Can the strength of any individual journalist, news organization, or even a change for the better in the entire industry of “the media” undo the mistrust instilled in Americans (and Britons)? If the audience we as journalists cater to don’t trust what we say is true, how effective or worthwhile is our work for those of us who consider journalism to be an enlightening and informative force in society?


5 Reasons to Like the Social Network for News

While Twitter has become a platform for news organizations to posts bursts of breaking news, Facebook, founded only a few years earlier, has become a place for every celebrity, interest, and business to have a place to advertize directly to the people. News organizations are no different. What works about Facebook over Twitter, a website, or a blog?

The Platform Itself

Facebook has a place for a lot of different types of engagement. Text or links on statuses and notes; a page for background information, history, biography, mission statement; a place for photos and videos; creating events; the ability to set other subsections on the home page. The uniform layout of Facebook gives a clean, more professional look to every page than the vast creative possibilities of simply blog sites.

Direct Connection to Readers/Customers

If an individual likes or befriends your page, your post will show up on their newsfeed, which allows you to insert yourself into their social experience daily, between a friend’s status about her day at work and a sister’s baby photos. They don’t have to make a special effort to come to your page or website; as long as they don’t choose to hide your posts, it takes some effort to be able to separate your news from the social, interpersonal posts in their news feed. It’s an easy place to give them new information and self promotion.

Ease of Getting Reaction

Unlike a website or blog where you might have to sign in or create an account to comment, on Facebook, readers are already signed into that account as themselves, and below the post is that open box they just have to click on (it even says “write a comment” in the box). Even if readers had something to say on another blog or website, they may not consider it as common or appropriate to comment on it as they would on Facebook – after all Facebook encourages the social interaction. You can easily see what people’s reactions are by reading their comments.

Knowledge of Viewership

Similar to recording hits on a blog or webpage, the size of your audience can be more easily guessed by noting the number of “like” or “friends” to the page. You can also tell what articles more people might have bothered to read or enjoy by the numbers of likes to the post or number of comments on it. If you create an event, you can see how many people are, are not, are maybe attending the event.


Lastly, but most importantly, using Facebook makes it very easy to have readers engage and participate in news, rather than passively receive it. They can read and then comment on it alongside their friends and neighbors. They which of their friends have liked the page or liked a post. They can start an argument with someone over what they believe about an issue or event. You can make readers feel like they are a part of what you are posting about and make them feel as though their knowledge and comments are important to the events you are telling the about.

For more reading on effectively using Facebook as a news source, go to

Tweets — An effective way to engage Americans on politics?

On Tuesday night, a Senior Lecturer in Communication Arts at IUSB (Indiana University South Bend), Alec Hosterman, went to Washington, D.C. to tweet during the State of the Union. How well did he use Twitter during this important political event?

The effectiveness of Hosterman’s tweets during the State of the Union depends on what audience he was tweeting for, what they wanted out of their tweeting experience, and what he wanted them to get out of it.

The first dozen or so Tweets added more of level sense of atmosphere and some moments of humor to the event by commenting on the crowd, Boehner, and Obama fist bumping. If he was tweeting for those watching along with the State of the Union, he began by simply hitting the highlights they were already hearing, but as the tweets went on, began questioning what was said and adding his own comments along with them. He also posed questions, which encourage followers to participate in a dialogue.


He also did a good job engaging in conversation with followers by responding to their comments during the State of the Union. This is definitely a good way to make the experience of his feed interactive and inclusive for his readers, but could also be a little distracting for those who wanted to only follow the State of the Union and didn’t care for the opinions of others yet. (Hearing other’s opinions can color the way they experience or interpret the speech, a power that can be good or bad.)

For those not watching the State of the Union but just following the tweets, what was happening would be a little less clear, as he was taking more a stance of giving commentary in his short amount of space than giving a play by play of what was said. He used his feed more as a place to think and react that to give breaking news tweets, though he did use quotes when he felt the need to comment on them.  (and at the end of the night made it clear he was critiquing the speech).

The tweets in the day leading up to State of the Union were more of the tweets of someone’s personal Twitter: here’s what monuments I’m at with a picture, here’s what I’m doing, here’s where I’m going for dinner. These types of Tweets border the line between interesting (“Today has been about seeing the places most of us only know thru TV or books. Very humbling. Can’t wait until tonight’s event!”) and the kind that draw people away from Twitter with the overload of uninteresting information (“Trying PJ Clark’s for dinner”). However, these were before the big even started and can be more human interest that draw people into his character and learn more about him as a person, and also hinted that his feed wouldn’t suddenly be used only as a breaking news or only quotes feed during the State of the Union.

Overall, I think as an individual he used his Twitter feed well to reflect on and engage others in the State of the Union instead of passively watching, showing how social media can be used in matters of importance and even change the way people think about what they are experiencing.

From Michael Buble to 2 Chainz, from Africa to Ireland

Welsh Family Hall DanceFest 2013 brings diversity of dance together



Welsh Family Hall’s annual signature event “DanceFest” opened this weekend in Washington Hall with performances Friday and Saturday night. This year’s dance show, a collaboration between Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s dance groups to raise money for charity, featured sets by DanceFest Core, Dance Company, TransPose, ND/SMC Irish Dance Team, Troop ND, Swing Club, Pom Squad, Project Fresh, First Class Steppers and new addition Dance Africa.

Styles of dance varied between ballet, lyrical, hip hop, swing, stepping, Irish dance and jazz. This year’s show included a wide range of popular music, including songs by Michael Buble, Bruno Mars, 2 Chainz, Imogen Heap, The Sweet, One Direction, Britney Spears, Cali Swag District, Jessie J, Jason Mraz and DJ Drama.

The Friday night performance sold about 214 tickets and the Saturday night performance sold about 245 tickets, with an estimated $2500 raised. The money from ticket sales goes to the Robinson Community Learning Center’s Summer Shakespeare Program for kids ages eight to eighteen.

“This year we sold a combined 460 tickets, which is much higher than previous years,” co-coordinator Katelynn Kelly said. “We’re thrilled to be able to give the RCLC a larger donation than usual.”

The RCLC is an off-campus educational initiative of the President’s Office at the University of Notre Dame in partnership with Northeast Neighborhood residents of South Bend. The RCLC provides community outreach, a tutoring program, a gathering space for residents to meet and interact.

Welsh Family Hall chose the Summer Shakespeare Program because those involved in DanceFest recognized the importance of the arts in all forms and believe all children should have the opportunity to participate regardless of their life circumstances.


Swing Club

The event was started about 10 years ago by a resident of Welsh Family Hall who noticed there was no single dance event in which any group could participate. While there were shows on campus that included dance performances, most of them were geared towards celebrating particular cultures, such as Asian Allure, Black Images, Fiestang, and Latin Expressions.

Co-coordinator Julia McGinty explained that Welsh Family Hall contacts all dance groups listed under performing arts as well as other groups that are known to include dancing. Groups that respond by the deadline and are available to perform are welcomed to participate in the show.

Preparation for the event began as early as last spring when the DanceFest commissioner booked Washington Hall and rehearsal spaces for this year’s performance. Once choreographers were selected, auditions were held early last semester for DanceFest core, the sets made specifically for the show. Each dance in DanceFest core had practice once weekly since September.

The coordinators of this year’s show are Julia McGinty, Monica Spitzer, Danielle Valcourt, Claire Hackman, Katelynn Kelly and Anna Gorman. Others crucial to the success of the performance include mentor and advisor Sister Christine Connolly, Washington Hall Assistant Building Manager Kat Van Vleet, Lights and Technical Director Caitlin Cunningham and the creators of the “Keep Calm and Dance On” show shirts, Midwest Athletic Apparel.

“I think the best things about DanceFest are that it is the only dance show on campus in which every dance group can participate and that the money it raises goes to a foundation that gives kids the opportunity for artistic expression,” co-coordinator Spitzer said. “We are so proud of how well it turned out.”


Project Fresh