Rosenberg Facilitation: Three Pillars of Trust

As millions of journalists publish endless stories, it may always be the case that a mistake can be made among their story and/or accuracy of sources. But how many of those journalists are actually taking responsibility for those mistakes? Scott Rosenberg on Three Pillars of Trust: Links, revisions, and error buttons, discusses the impact of uncorrected errors and how journalists and news organizations can change that. Rosenberg highlights, “more than half of stories being published contain mistakes – and only three percent of those errors are ever fixed.” Because of the lack of effort or willingness to alter these errors, news organizations have and are increasingly losing the public’s trust. How do we begin to believe or know journalists are producing reliable facts? Rosenberg addresses three simple yet overlooked steps that news organizations can take into account in order to minimize the number of errors in their stories and establish better rapport among their readers. 

  1. The first step Rosenberg introduces is the ability to “Link generously.”

In other words, he emphasizes the significance in providing sources to help support the credibility of their research. Without these links to the sources that have been utilized, readers are not given the opportunity to assess whether the story is a reliable document. 

  1. The next step is the importance of “Showing your work.”

By showing your work, Rosenberg encourages journalists to attach previous revisions of the same story to show the processes of their improvements. He highlights the idea of practicing transparency and by doing this, he claims “providing a history of every version of the story” can fulfill that practice. 

  1. Rosenbergs’ final step promotes the act of “Helping people report mistakes.” 

He states, “The internet is a powerfully efficient feedback mechanism.” In this last step, he encourages news organizations to implement a type of attachment or button that allows readers to share that they believe the writer has made some sort of mistake. This gives the writer the ability to receive feedback. 

Rosenberg along with many others understand that these “uncorrected errors are beginning to undermine the public’s trust” and in order to build that trust back, he believes these steps are an essential start. Below is a short clip of Jeff Jarvis identifying his take on Journalistic Code of Ethics that I think is relevant to Rosenberg’s three pillars. 

Along with ideas to change the face of accuracy and credibility, Rosenberg also breaks down the reasons these practices are not widely or commonly used. He begins with explaining what the industry has to offer. He explains that systems that consist of tools to immediately correct these mistakes, do not exist. And later states, that even if these correction systems did exist, they are not “bringing in revenue directly” and news organizations are not gaining money from it and are wasting time doing so. Following, Rosenberg switches the reasoning on the writers themselves. He claims, “many editors do not believe the problem is serious” and do not take into account that inaccuracy loses the public’s trust. Next, he believes writers assume that readers with corrections or feedback are just people who don’t support their work, and the writers believe it is their “duty to ignore them.”

An example of a news organization that does a really great job of updating their revisions and linking sources is the Dallas Morning News. Each article contains specific links within the text or below a specific image or statistic in order to allow their readers to access their sources. One particular article on The Dallas Morning News addressing the current pandemic provides almost all key steps that allow the public to trust its content. The beginning of the article contains an update with a specific time and statistic. Throughout the article, there are links within the text, under images, and identified sources within the story. Below is the link to the article.

As we look into the truth behind every journalists’ intentions when publishing or writing a story, Rosenberg states “we ask them what sets them apart from others that share online as well.” 

If their answer is “We care about accuracy. We correct our mistakes,” Rosenberg emphasizes that they should practice what they preach unless they want to continue losing the public’s trust. 

7 thoughts to “Rosenberg Facilitation: Three Pillars of Trust”

  1. You did a good job over viewing this piece, and I think it brought up some interesting information about Journalism itself and what causes the lack of integrity. Rosenberg states that “Correction systems…don’t bring in revenue directly” (Rosenberg), and as such don’t serve much of a purpose for the company overall to fix invalid information. This is a theme that always tends to trend with information sites, with them competing not for the most valid of answers but the most appealing headline or theme. We can take the New York Times here for an example, in recent years people have begun to distrust and question the times articles due to their constant nature of chasing the most eye catching stories and in their rush leaving out details or misinterpreting facts. The times specifically go against the Pillars that Rosenberg is trying to push for Journalism (with the exception for them having a way for the reader to send in a report about an error), with their quest for an ever increasing amount of ‘clicks’ or news papers bought driving them to invalidate themselves and Journalism as a whole in terms of spreading reliable news.

    Bellow are a few of the sensational headlines that they use to catch attention:

    “A Pregnant Woman Ordered a Latte at McDonald’s. She Received a Cup of Cleaning Fluid.”

    “Building a Trump-Free Barbecue”

    “Airbnb Is the New NATO”

    1. This is a potentially engaging critique, but it’s worth noting that there is not much evidence here to support the argument: two of the three links are opinion pieces, which have always had more leeway with their framing of their argument, and the other seems to be a legitimate news story. Beyond that, the claim “people have begun to distrust and question the [T]imes” is not itself supported by anything.

  2. This facilitation explains Rosenburg’s ethics in journalism and how the journalists can work to gain back the trust of the public in these times. One type of journalism that I feel should be discussed in terms of public trust is gaming journalism and game news sites. Unlike other news sites, much of the news found in regards to gaming is often revolved around game reviews and updates on upcoming games. Despite this, the public perception of journalists in this area is often quite low. This is usually in regards to how they score games and whether the wider public agrees with these scores. Though there has been issues that have further damaged their public perception as of late, such as a recent journalist from a game news site called IGN who had been caught stealing clips and points made about a game called Dead Cells from a youtuber without giving credit. They were fired after this was brought to light, however this event left a mark on the public image of game journalists which was already being damaged. Largely it seems that since gaming has become a large part of people’s free time, it lends it to the idea that those who report on gaming should be honest and open to criticism when it comes to reviews over games. The public as of now seems to feel that many sites like IGN and Gamespot are in serious need of work in regards to fixing their public images, which may be helped if their journalists follow Rosenburg’s Pillars. Though only time may tell.

  3. One thing that stood out to me from Rosenberg’s article, as well as from this facilitation, was journalists’ “fear” of engaging with readers–this struck me as odd, as in my understanding, it is readers that keep journalism alive. As Rosenberg states, the profession is struggling, and he believes that fostering a relationship of trust with the public is key to preserving it. While Rosenberg offers useful strategies for building trust through error correction, I was curious about what other steps news outlets could take to improve audiences’ perception of them. In an article written for The Conversation (a not-for-profit publication primarily funded by foundations and universities), Jacob L. Nelson analyzes two studies conducted on the public’s relationship with the press, the second of which examines specific strategies news outlets have employed to meaningfully engage with their audiences. This study argues that audiences feel alienated from journalism because “it fails to accurately reflect their lives”, which these outlets addressed by taking questions from audiences online to see what they were interested in, as well as instituting “listening sessions” meant to reach out to minority groups. As Rosenberg alludes to in his article, such initiatives don’t really bring in revenue, which is why many news organizations won’t make such efforts. I believe, however, that proactive methods such as these could be very beneficial to the news’ relationship with the public, in addition to the error correction strategies for which Rosenberg advocates.

  4. “According to the best counts we have, more than half of stories contain mistakes — and only three percent of those errors are ever fixed.”
    The fact that so many journalistic pieces have such a high error rate is the reason why they are not thought to be as credible even though being credible is an essential part of journalism and so many people are skeptical of what they read. This quote reminds me of how in this political climate, there have been so many stories from major news networks that have been disproven because of errors and this has made people distrustful of the news.

  5. There were a couple of things that stood out to me from Rosenberg’s article, was the fact that you are supposed to follow three things in order to make a great journalist you have to Help people report mistakes, because I already knew you have to Link generously, and show your work in order to gain the public’s trust but I didn’t know that you need to help people report mistakes in order to have no errors and make your article or website better. I will definitely be using that when I make my webpage for our Persuasive Media Rhetorical Project Assignment. This will help me get better feedback and understand what I need to change and what I did wrong. Error correction is a useful strategy to get your audience to trust you as a journalist and trust that your website is a reliable source. Sometimes people have bad perceptions of some websites because they feel as though they don’t have enough information to be seen as reliable and they don’t have sourced, or show there work so people try to find a more reliable site so I hope when people look at my website they will not try to find a better site.

  6. “The journalism industry ships lemons every day.” This quote from your facilitation really caught my attention as I was reading it because of how journalists would publish their stories that can create a negative impact to most readers. Sure, there are three basic steps of journalism, but not all stories that were published by news writers can be accurate, especially when there are numerous real life events going on in our society. Another quote that match the description of how journalists publish their stories that are nearly close to being accurate mentioned that “only 29% of Americans believed that the press ‘get the facts right.’” For example, many news articles (both traditional and online) would display numerous stories with some details of real life events, but are far from being accurate to what the press was trying explain.

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