Last May the Canadian Journalism Foundation launched the first-ever edition of World News Day in Toronto and Montreal, bringing together journalists and citizens from around Canada to discuss the importance of journalism for democracy.
Madhav Chinnappa (Google), Robyn Doolittle (The Globe and Mail), Solomon Elliott (The Student View), and Natalie Turvey (the Canadian Journalism Foundation) spoke about how initiatives like World News Day can help rebuild citizen trust in the press.
Turvey emphasised that World News Day was not meant to simply sing journalists’ praise in the media echo-chamber. It was created for the public, with the goal of explaining to citizens how and why journalists report on stories, and to raise awareness about the importance of having a free and independent media.
“This is about trying to reclaim the narrative around news,” Chinnappa said. “When I look at the narrative around the industry that I love right now, it is deeply negative. It’s all about fake news and attacks on legitimacy. We need to try to reclaim the narrative so that people can understand the importance, the legitimacy, and the power of journalism.”
The panel discussed ways that newsrooms can regain the trust of the public, most of all by explaining and demystifying the journalistic process. They suggested that news organisations should consider opening their newsrooms to the public on World News Days each year, or printing editorials on why news matters. Elliott also pointed to the importance of teaching media literacy in schools.
“There is a real issue of trust and credibility issue with the public right now,” Doolittle said. “Journalists have a lot of work to do to rebuild that trust, and part of that means taking the focus off of us and putting it back on regular people. It’s about lifting the curtain on how we do our journalism and bringing people into the process.”
World News Day will take place on May 2 this year.
Priscille Biehlmann – volunteer press office IJF19