Discover more from A curious eye on Europe
Not AI, but AE: The Key To Saving Journalism?
Plus: Building Trustworthy Journalism - Inspiring Ideas From Across Europe
👋 Hey there fellow curious journalists,
thanks so much for coming on this email-ride - curating interesting bits and pieces from journalism all over Europe (and occasionally beyond).
🤓A small FYI: Because of my work I have a bias towards all things strategy and visual storytelling. But this newsletter (and me) is a work-in-progress, so with each edition I’ll try to a) expand my perspective and b) cover more and more countries.
🧯AI can not be the only answer
Want to save journalism? Invest in AE roles - AE as in Actual Experience.
She suggests we need AE roles, to balance out AI.
👉 Why? Because while AI will transform everything in terms of efficiency, it does not help to build trust: “But what has been proven to increase trust in information is human, face-to-face interactions and relationships.”
It’s also the one upper hand we humans have on AI: We can care. About our audiences, about our communities and society as a whole. Because as Jennifer puts it: „AI couldn‘t care less“. It doesn‘t have the ability.
And these are some AE roles she lists in her article:
Community Conversation Facilitator
Professional Industry Networker
💸 Sure, budgets are always tight, but Jennifer argues that financial savings through AI could be invested in AE.
💪 And for those of you who don’t want to wait for structural changes: Jennifer has co-created a nifty Bingo Card that shows how you can include little “acts of care” in your journalism.
And we should worry about trust - a lot. That’s what the new Reuters Digital News Report shows.
To me reading the report feels more and more like Groundhog Day - there are so many recurring problems.
The most (de)pressing ones remain year after year: Declining trust in the media and growing news avoidance.
"Trust in the news has fallen, across markets, by a further 2 percentage points in the last year, reversing – in many countries – the gains made at the height of the Coronavirus pandemic. On average, four in ten of our total sample (40%) say they trust most news most of the time."
"The proportion of news consumers who say they avoid news, often or sometimes, remains close to all-time highs at 36% across markets.“
💪 So to remind myself that (small) things do change, I went to look for current ideas that might help us tackle these problems:
Something you can begin with straight away
👂Start to really listen
Do you think you are a good listener?
Turns out: Most of us miss a lot → We practise transactional listening - we listen to answer and not to understand.
1️⃣ Our brains often make unconscious assumptions when we listen, leading us to be wrong more frequently than we realize.
2️⃣ Also, when speaking, we may not articulate our thoughts accurately the first time. So there‘s an even higher chance we‘re not really understanding our interviewing partner correctly.
To overcome these challenges - Emily suggests deep listening: genuine curiosity, careful double-checking, respectful communication.
This is how it looks like in practice:
It’s four simple steps:
Listen deeply to what the person is saying
Capture the essence
Check if you got it right
If not, ask for what you missed and repeat steps 1-3.
👉 Don’t interrupt. Leave 10 seconds before you speak. This is suprisingly hard at first. Really count down the seconds in your head.
If you start to deeply listen, you will also find out more about your audience needs.
This is the first step to 👇
🌈 Diversify your reporting
Here are some other ideas to address blindspots in our newsrooms:
🧠 Leverage AI - Norwegian Broadcaster Yle explores using AI to scan their reporting for biases and blind spots. They aim to develop a system that analyzes who is quoted, with what frequency, and in what type of story. Additionally, they plan to employ sentiment analysis to uncover terminology biases.
📨Data-onboard everyone: Mediahuis sends out a personalised newsletter to every author, so they can see how their content performs. This would also be a great way to track diversity metrics and nudge reporters to correct blind spots and biases.
🎨 Viszualize it - Consider whether you are serving communities that are already well-served. In the UK this project is mapping out regional coverage - the goal is to “encourage philanthropists and policymakers to target their resources on the local areas of greatest need”.
👭 Renew your expert-database - There’s now a newsletter to close the gender gap in reporting - Ask A Woman connects journalists with female experts in Europe. Each issue focuses on a theme relevant to current affairs. You can also browse the separate, national databases.
🥋 Challenge unwritten rules - A lot of them just help keeping an outdated status-quo in place. Case-in-point: In German media there is an unwritten rule that makes it near impossible for speakers with audible accents to get airtime. A new study finally challenges this - 58% of German citizens actually support the use of non-native speakers with audible diversity.
Oh hey, you are new here?
Hi, I’m Isabel, a journalist & digital strategist from Germany.
❤️ finding new ways of storytelling and developing formats for new platforms.
🙌 Goal for 2023: Knowing more about what my European colleagues are working on.
Come along on my journey in this newsletter:
🤔 The DNR shows news avoiders skip topics they consider repetitive or emotionally draining - so how can we get more nuanced views on topics our society is divided on? 👇
🙌 Ask better questions
Ellen Heinrichs from the Bonn Institute for Constructive Journalism proposes to look toward the techniques used in mediation.
In her talk “Hören was (auch) ist” she lists four types of open-ended questions that encourage parties to reflect, express their feelings, and delve deeper into their needs and interests:
1️⃣ Hypothetical questions
"Suppose you had the opportunity, what would you like to talk about with the Last Generation?"
2️⃣ Circular questions
"How would you address the problem with the climate crisis, if you were young again?”
3️⃣ Questions about the past and the future
"What would young people have to do differently in the future so that their protests would not make you angry?"
4️⃣ Solution-oriented questions
"How would you know that the conflict has calmed down?"
Yes, these approaches might shake up our interview process - as they take more time. And challenge the need to produce snappy soundbites. But if they help us to (re)connect with our audiences and gather & deliver more nuanced information - why not give it a try whenever possible?
🚨We talk a lot about potential dangers of filter bubbles and algorithms, but as the DNR highlights, the audience doesn’t trust our editorial selection either:
"In most countries people think that the automatic assessment of their past behaviour will deliver better results for them than the considered judgement of editors and journalists.“
So here’s something we can do 👇
👩💻 Don’t only show what you do, but how you do it.
Start small - take a cue from the New York Times. They've introduced enhanced bylines, like this one: "Elian Peltier and Yagazie Emezi visited refugee sites on Chad's Sudan border, where tens of thousands of people have found refuge since a war started in Sudan last month." In just one sentence, transparency is amplified.
Be open - this reporter shows, in a very personal way, on her Instagram how she works: “We ask people every day to let us in at their worst moments. To give nothing of ourselves in return sometimes feels like denying that we’re [also] people in this equation.”
Facilitate dialogue— Offline: Mediavivant in France organizes monthly live events, where reporters explain how stories are crafted and engage in discussions with the public. Or online: ARTE just launched Behind the story on Twitch.
Embrace collaboration - Bellingcat, an investigative journalism site based in Amsterdam, opened a Discord server. They now discuss investigations and open-source research with over 15.000 members, fostering a sense of community, and shared learning.
And to finish, we embark on our
🇪🇸 This time we stop in Spain
Mar Manrique, editor and creator of the journalism newsletter Fleet Street, recommends:
Relevo is the online sports newspaper of the traditional media group Vocento. Its front page simulates the scroll of TikTok, which makes it closer to its target audience: those under 35 years old. Relevo started building its audience on social networks (Instagram, TikTok, or Twitch) before launching its website.
Kloshletter is an independent newsletter created by the journalist Charo Marcos. After several years working in newsrooms and agencies, Charo created Kloshletter, where she shares five headlines of the day with thousands of subscribers.
The Self-Investigation is an online international project driven by Spanish journalist and Pulitzer winner Mar Cabra. Through training and consultancies, The Self-Investigation aims to tackle journalists' mental health in the media industry.
🌐Sidenote: If you are wondering: How can I read up on all theses examples in a foreign language? There is this fitting quote I overheard:
“The language of Europe is translation.”
Luckily, translation has gotten quite easy: Nearly every browser has a neat translation function (or an add-on available), a lot of email providers too and there is of course your favourite AI tool to help out.
Yay, you made it this far in the newsletter!
📧 For the next edition: Feel free to let me know → What questions are your curious about? What would you like to read? Who should I talk to?
I’d be very lost in Journalism-Europe without good sources - so for this edition many 💞 go out to Mar Manrique, ijnet, Mapping Journalism, NiemanLab and all the inspiring talks and inputs at re:publica.
👋 That’s all - for now.
Until next month,
*This newsletter was made with lots of ❤️ and a bit of help by AI for translations.*