Chapter 10: Trust and Ethics

Flagging public trust in news media has become an increasingly prominent issue in American civic life and an urgent priority for news leaders. Where distrust and suspicion of the press is a problem, nonprofit news startups can be part of the solution.

Typically nonprofit news outlets are rooted in a community through their geographic and topical focus. The better known you are in your community, the easier it is to build trust. Being a nonprofit also comes with some built-in immunity from the time-worn charge that journalists sensationalize their storytelling to make more money for their owners.

Founders of news nonprofits still must take precautions to make sure they are perceived as trustworthy. Adopting a policy of editorial independence is an important first step, and INN provides an example. Organizations also must maintain transparency about their funding and connections with community organizations. Finally, those in nonprofit news should always keep in mind that their degree of engagement with the public is as elemental to their success as is the quality of their journalism.