Is the media doing enough to tell the stories of the #unreported and unheard?

Trust in the mainstream media is at an all-time low. According to recent research, the number of people who said they trusted news outlets has fallen, from 33% in 2015 to just 24% this year.

I’m sure there are multiple reasons why this is the case but a stand out point made by those surveyed was that they just don’t feel that their outlooks and experiences are reflected in what they read in the newspaper, hear in the radio bulletins, see on the television broadcasts, or click on the news websites.

And why is this? Quite simply because many of them still think of journalists in a very traditional way. White, middle aged, middle class men. Sadly, this stereotype is actually quite accurate, and I think it’s more than fair to say from the survey findings, that all news outlets would benefit from a more diversity editorial team, authentically telling the stories of those who aren’t white, middle aged, middle class or male.

Wednesday’s Civic Journalism Lab event, hosted at BBC Newcastle, was an opportunity to explore what the media industry needs to do to change the ways things are in regard to diversity in order to try and win back the trust of the general public

Ran in partnership with Newcastle University, the audience around me was predominantly made up of university students. As much as it felt like I was back in a university lecture room, it was brilliant to see so many young people in attendance. After all, the millennial generation, of which I would include myself, has one of the highest distrust percentages when it comes to the media, often feeling disengaged from what’s going on in the world around us.

The discussion was held by four guest speakers, all of whom are actively working to encourage diversity within their outlets, in order to support the voices of those who are often unreported on by the media and write from a perspective that audiences can relate to and trust.

These were, Michael Segalov, the News Editor for Huck Magazine, Helen Amess, Outreach Manager for BBC North, Joshi Hermann, Editor-In-Chief for The Tab, and Jamie Clifton, UK Editor for The Vice.

Michael spoke about how Huck Magazine looks for ways in which they can bring alternative perspectives and fresh voices to the conversations had around major news stories.

These opinion pieces will come from young writers from a diverse range of backgrounds, who the magazine call on to ask ‘how do you see this story?’ By creating content that mixes the factual information in with the opinions and experiences of the writer, you are creating something that the audience can engage with and maybe even relate to.

Helen highlighted that the BBC feels it has a real responsibility to engage with the audiences who pay their license fee but perhaps never see themselves reflected on the television, never hear themselves on the radio, ad would never see themselves on the BBC’s social media platforms or website.

She pointed out the opportunity that news outlets have to engage with diverse audiences online but admitted that there’s is almost a skills gap when it comes to older journalists working effectively on social media. In order to reach audiences who don’t engage with traditional forms of media, journalists need to place equal importance on social channels, producing content that is designed specifically for online, not a rehash of what appeared on the TV or radio bulletins.

Joshi Hermann, Editor-in-Chief of The Tab, suggested that because the magazine has a good understanding of its reader’s interests, cultural references and educational backgrounds than most publications, they can tailor editorial for them. Page views online don’t necessarily indicate what people care about, the best way to find that out is to get out there and ask. To attract the attention, and most importantly the trust of readers, variety is essential, and content should be diverse in order to appeal to a diverse audience.

So what does all this mean for when the team at Publicity Seekers are storytelling for our clients? At Publicity Seekers we always say that people buy from people and in some cases it may be the stories, opinions and experiences of the staff members that customers will relate to and engage with.

There’s so much of the same news out there but a different opinion piece from a team member may provide an alternative perspective, which will shine the story in a completely different light and make it unique and attractive to the publications that we target.

Make sure to look out for our client stories in our media centre.