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5 Ways to Connect with Local Communities

News distrust is a national problem – and it can be especially pronounced in communities that feel underserved by their local newsrooms. In an ongoing research series, the Center for Media Engagement is examining how newsrooms can help bridge divides with local news audiences. These five strategies come directly from speaking with communities that feel the media can do better to reach them. Download the pdf tip sheet.

  1. Build Relationships in the Community
  • Establish trust by finding ways to connect before a big story happens
  • Get involved in causes or community events
  • Let community members know how to reach you
  • Use social media as a relationship-building tool
  1. Showcase a Variety of Voices
  • Reflect variety in age, race/ethnicity, gender, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and socioeconomics
  • Avoid relying on the same few sources for every story
  • Refrain from focusing only on people with extreme views
  1. Examine Your Story Framing
  • Use neutral language when describing contentious situations
  • Avoid terms that serve as catch-all labels for people who may have very different beliefs
  • Be fair and consistent in coverage of local communities
  1. Think Outside the Story
  • Share information about community resources
  • Look for positive community developments that might inspire stories
  • Show empathy when asking sources about difficult situations
  • Consider biases: Explore ideas or questions that might be uncomfortable
  1. Diversify Your Newsroom
  • Diversify by age, race/ethnicity, gender, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and socioeconomics
  • Remember that communities want to be represented in their newsrooms