Journalism has a trust problem, particularly among conservative readers. Recent opinion surveys are dismal. Around 10% of Republicans say they trust what the media reports. That’s a big problem.
The Current is a tiny, local organization, but we’ve tried to build a big tent. When we launched, we figured a local focus would keep media polarization a distant concern. And that’s clearly not true.
One right-leaning subscriber urged me recently to think hard about who we’re reaching and offered up a bit of skepticism I’m sure is shared by many other conservatives:
“Are we reaching out to expand our baseline of readers and spark healthy discussion? Or are we going to turn on those readers in the end like CNN, MSNBC, CBS, ABC, NBC and even Fox News in some cases do?”
Trust in local news has declined, too. That means we’re not insulated from the criticism leveled (often rightly!) at national media. In Lafayette, where most people identify as some kind of conservative, that means we’re failing to reach most of the community we serve.
Our mission is to explore and explain Lafayette, and we can’t fulfill it without engaging all of Lafayette. That’s why we’ve joined with Re-Engaging the Right, a project spearheaded by Trusting News and the Center for Media Engagement at the University of Texas, to open a better dialogue with right-leaning readers.
It starts with listening. And if you consider yourself a conservative, we want to hear from you. It’s easy to get involved. Just take this survey.
Entries will be compiled by staff at the Center for Media Engagement and used for a study slated to come out later this year.
We’re also looking for people who are willing to be interviewed confidentially. (Plus, if you’re selected, you’ll get a $25 gift card!) You’ll get to pick a pseudonym in case your thoughts are used in the final Re-engage the Right report.
You can volunteer for an interview through the survey. Our partners at Center for Media Engagement will recommend interviews to us among the volunteers.
This is an opportunity for us to listen better. Trust is not something that can be repaired overnight.
Listening is step one.
Want to say something directly? Email me at [email protected].