Journalists like to pretend we spend our days meeting with mysterious sources in darkened parking garages, or sifting through secret documents to hold the powerful to account.
But if we’re honest, most of our time is spent taking notes at a council meeting on potholes, rebuffing endless inappropriate PR requests, monitoring CrowdTangle, transcribing, chasing deadlines and tracking our share count.
And yet much (if not all) of what is described in the last paragraph is completely foreign to our readers’ understanding of the work we do. Why should our work remain such a black box of mystery when so much of it is so mundane?
In Austria, trust in media sits at around 40% according to the Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2020. It’s an increase of 1% from the previous year. “The role played by the media in the fall from government of the right-wing freedom party
FPÖ has bolstered trust with liberal voters – and overall,” the report reads.
If trust is so crucial to defending our democratic norms, isn’t it time we started being more transparent about what it is that we do? That’s the question journalist Philipp Wilhelmer tried to answer during his time as a fellow at the Reuters Institute.
KURIER, where Wilhelmer works, is a German-language paper operating out of Vienna. It is the fourth most-visited news site in Austria according to SimilarWeb (October 2020). Reader trust in the paper sits above average at 51%, according to the Reuters Digital News Report.
This is what happened when he put his theories to the test back home.