Want to Build Trust with Readers? Try Adding a Box that Explains the Story Process
Providing readers with supplementary information on how a journalist approached a story seems to be effective in building reader trust of the news organization, according to a study out Tuesday from the Center for Media Engagement at the University of Texas, Austin. But tests of a second intervention — the addition of a “‘demonstrating balance’ box that directed readers of a partisan political news story to another story that offered an opposing partisan focus” — were inconclusive.
CME, Trusting News’s Joy Mayer, USA Today, and The Tennessean teamed up to test the interventions on more than 1,200 people. In the case of the “explain your process” box:
— Using a mock news site, people who viewed a news article with the box perceived the news organization as significantly more reliable, compared to people who saw the same story without the box.
— Using stories from USA Today and the Tennessean, people who viewed an article with the box rated USA Today and the Tennessean significantly higher on 11 of the 12 attributes of trust compared to people who saw the same story without the box. These attributes include being more transparent, informative, accurate, fair, credible, unbiased, and reputable. Only “does not have an agenda” was not significantly higher.”