The global climate for journalism is challenging, if not outright hostile in some places, with little apparent signs of improvement any time soon. Some blame digital platforms for allowing discredited rumours to reverberate widely, sowing seeds of doubt about all information online, and see conventional newsgathering as a crucial remedy to this growing uncertainty. However, much of the public see news organisations themselves, rightly or wrongly, as part of the problem rather than the solution Livio and Cohen 2016; Palmer et al. 2020; Riedl and Eberl 2020). More widely, prior research shows low and declining rates of trust in news in many places around the world (Fletcher 2020; Jones 2018; Hanitzsch et al. 2018).
Against this backdrop, the Reuters Institute invited representatives from a diverse range of news organisations around the world to participate in a series of virtual roundtable discussions about their perspectives on what may be driving this erosion in trust and how they think about restoring trust with audiences in their countries.
Overall, the journalists who participated in these roundtables were generally concerned and pessimistic about the current state of affairs. Many focused on external forces they felt constrained their organisations’ abilities to build and sustain trust. These included digital platforms, such as Facebook, Google, and WhatsApp, which many saw as obstacles to fostering meaningful engagement with audiences. Others were more focused on powerful political headwinds, which they worried deeply influenced the public’s receptivity to the information they reported.