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How trust and fear stimulate or hamper new ideas in the newsroom

Patricia Cruz

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The study “Trust and Fear in the Newsroom: How Emotions Drive the Exchange of Innovative Ideas” by Ornella Porcu and Liesbeth Hermans from Windesheim University of Applied Sciences and Marcel Broersma from University of Groningen looked at a topic under researched in journalism studies: what fosters the sharing and developing of new ideas?  

Innovation is crucial to the survival of legacy media amidst the new challenges. So are the social processes that stimulate the exchange of new ideas among people. Previous research by the same authors has found out that in the newsroom, “trust” and “fear” emerged as the key conditions for the sharing of ideas.

Newsrooms have been previously studied as places where news are constructed, but the research has often looked at management or tech while excluding the cultural context of the newsroom. Porcu (2017) introduced the concept of “innovative learning culture” (ILC) to fill this gap.

Crucial to the sharing of new ideas is people’s willingness to take risk to make mistakes, which in turn is highly influenced by a culture that triggers and fosters innovative behavior. In order for ideas to be developed in the entire organization, it is important that they reach the management. 

The work of a journalist is inherently a profession where risks are balanced on a daily basis, and the pressure to not make mistakes is present daily due to the taboo associated with mistakes in reporting and the potential damage they create. Thus, journalism is a risk-averse undertaking,

Fear in journalism manifests as fearing the “ultimate punishment” of being fired due to a mistake – even if such an event is unlikely, the fear is still present. These fears do not leave much room for creative undertaking.

Only in a high-trust environment does the exchange of new ideas occur. Trust generally occurs horizontally, that is, among peers in the same position in the organization. Vertical trust is rarer, but previous research by for example 

Carmely and Spreitzer (2009) has shown that if the management succeeds in reducing the employees fears idea sharing and vertical trust is increased. 

The study at hand was a qualitative multiple case study. To increase internal validity, established newsrooms that were presumably more likely to allocate resources for innovation were chosen. Multiple qualitative data-collection methods were used. The data is ethnographic and consists of observation on interactions and notes on open interviews. 103 days were spent on observation and there were 132 interviews. 

When it comes to the social hierarchy in the newsroom, there were five distinct groups identified belonging to two larger categories. The categories were newsroom elites and the larger newsroom. Among the elites, there were newsroom establishment, usual suspects and happy few, while among the larger newsroom there was silent majority and flex people. 

Regarding fear, only lack of it is perceived as conducive to the sharing of ideas. People who are not burdened by fear are the newsroom elites. The happy few, especially senior members among the group, generally lack fear as do middle managers. There are also individuals who lack fear who do something unique in the newsroom, and these are often incorporated into the formal hierarchy and treated as usual suspects. 

Fear was mainly felt vertically – the employees fearing management. Some had experienced humiliation form overly aggressive top-down communication, which then led to “freeze, fight or flight” reactions. Also, news about these incidents spread across the newsroom and often led particularly less privileged employees to utilize the strategy of staying away from the management. 

Fear can also be mutual – the larger newsroom fears the management and vice versa. For example, the management can be apprehensive about disrupting the status quo when work needs to be adapted. Journalists also fear genuine debate and feedback, as they find it difficult to criticize each other’s work. 

Trust is mainly experienced horizontally. People of the same social and formal hierarchical level particularly perceive trust among their own news desk or “island”. This trust often also extended to the news desk editor, or “chief”. The trust is reflected as people feeling comfortable and at ease in their work environment, shown in behavior like opting to go shoeless at work. 

To share the ideas beyond, there also needs to be a degree of vertical trust. Groups closer to management are “less vertical” and find it easier to trust the management. Newsroom elites may feel stimulated to share their ideas as they enjoy the management’s trust, appreciation and encouragement. 

One way for ideas to be shared was having people from different disciplines working together, such as marketing and journalists. However, it was quite hard for trust to be extended in the same level and there was some culture shock, as for example the marketing used terms like “target audience” or “customer journey” that the journalists were uncomfortable with. 

There were downsides to the high trust extended among one’s own “island”. It can lead to navel-gazing and unwillingness to accept ideas coming from outside. One other factor reducing particularly vertical trust was that the management and the larger newsroom do not know each other well. 

Amongst the category of flex people horizontal trust was experienced as a form of solidarity, but they did not experience the same robustness of trust their contracted colleagues did – they felt frustrated with their precarious position and were exluded from the friendly, familial atmosphere enjoyed by contracted workers in their own “islands”.

The authors conclude that in the context of ILC, when perceptions of trust outweighs the perceptions of fear, this stimulates the sharing of ideas, and vice versa. Newsroom elites, being closer to management, experienced vertical trust. Vertical trust only occurs when staff and management are close and “horizontal”. 

They also conclude that in order for ideas to reach the management, journalists need to experience both horizontal and vertical trust. For the larger newsroom, which does not experience vertical trust, story ideas are shared which is enough for daily operations but limits the widespread adoption of new ideas. 

A way, if difficult, to reduce vertical fear for the management is to organize time to connect with the larger newsroom. A safe feedback culture for all the staff is crucial not only for mental wellbeing but also for the culture of innovation. 

What is clear from the study is that newsrooms are not homogenous entities, but instead, are rather diverse in their social hierarchical positions. The staff and management perceive their culture and reality differently based on these positions. 

The study “Trust and Fear in the Newsroom: How Emotions Drive the Exchange of Innovative Ideas” by Ornella Porcu, Liesbeth Hermans and Marcel Broersma is in Journalism Studies. (open access).

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Journalism

The Top Journalism Websites for News and Analysis”

Alice Trout

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Journalism plays an essential role in keeping the public informed about current events and issues. The internet has made it easier than ever to access a wide range of news and analysis from reputable sources. Here are some of the best journalism sites for keeping up-to-date on the latest happenings around the world:

  1. The New York Times (www.nytimes.com) – The New York Times is a well-respected newspaper that has been in operation for over 150 years. It offers a wide range of news and analysis on politics, business, technology, and culture.
  2. The Washington Post (www.washingtonpost.com) – The Washington Post is another well-respected newspaper that has been in operation for over 150 years. It offers in-depth coverage of national and international news, as well as commentary on politics, business, and more.
  3. The Guardian (www.theguardian.com) – The Guardian is a British newspaper that offers a wide range of news and analysis on politics, business, technology, and culture. It has a strong reputation for investigative journalism and has won numerous awards.
  4. BBC News (www.bbc.com/news) – BBC News is the online news division of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). It offers a wide range of news and analysis on international, national, and regional events.
  5. Al Jazeera (www.aljazeera.com) – Al Jazeera is a Qatari news organization that offers a wide range of news and analysis on international, national, and regional events. It has a strong reputation for its coverage of the Middle East and North Africa.
  6. Reuters (www.reuters.com) – Reuters is a global news organization that offers a wide range of news and analysis on international, national, and regional events. It has a strong reputation for its coverage of business and financial news.
  7. CNN (www.cnn.com) – CNN is a global news organization that offers a wide range of news and analysis on international, national, and regional events. It has a strong reputation for its coverage of breaking news and live events.
  8. The Economist (www.economist.com) – The Economist is a British magazine that offers a wide range of news and analysis on international, national, and regional events, with a focus on economics and politics.
  9. The Atlantic (www.theatlantic.com) – The Atlantic is an American magazine that offers a wide range of news and analysis on international, national, and regional events, with a focus on politics, culture, and technology.
  10. ProPublica (www.propublica.org) – ProPublica is a non-profit organization that focuses on investigative journalism. It has a strong reputation for its coverage of politics, business, and social issues.

Guest blogging is a highly effective marketing strategy that every business should be utilizing. By purchasing PR publications, you can increase traffic and establish authority.

These are just a few examples of the many great journalism websites that are available. Whether you’re looking for breaking news, in-depth analysis, or a particular perspective on current events, these sites are an excellent starting point.

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Journalism

The Ethics of Healthcare Advertising: Balancing the Right to Information with the Risk of Deception

Alice Trout

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Healthcare advertising has the potential to inform and educate the public about important medical treatments and products, but it must be done in an ethical and responsible manner. On one hand, the public has the right to access information about healthcare options that may improve their quality of life or save their lives. On the other hand, there is a risk that healthcare advertising could deceive or mislead consumers, leading to negative consequences for both the companies and the public.

One issue with healthcare advertising is the promotion of prescription drugs for off-label use. Off-label use refers to the use of a drug for a purpose that has not been approved by the regulatory agency, such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States. While it is not illegal for doctors to prescribe drugs for off-label use, it is illegal for pharmaceutical companies to promote drugs for off-label use. This is because the FDA has not determined that the drug is safe and effective for the unapproved use.

Unfortunately, some pharmaceutical companies have been known to engage in off-label promotion in order to increase sales. This can be harmful to patients, as they may be prescribed a drug that has not been thoroughly tested for the specific condition they are suffering from. In some cases, off-label use of a drug can even be dangerous.

Another issue with healthcare advertising is the use of exaggerated or misleading claims. This can include making false or unproven statements about the effectiveness of a drug or treatment, or downplaying the risks and side effects. Such practices can lead to consumers making informed decisions about their healthcare, and can also harm the reputation of the healthcare industry as a whole.

In order to strike a balance between the right to information and the risk of deception, it is important for both regulatory agencies and the healthcare industry to prioritize ethical practices in healthcare advertising. This can include measures such as strict oversight by regulatory agencies, clear guidelines for the approval and review of advertising materials, and campaigns to educate the public about how to evaluate and interpret healthcare advertising. By taking these steps, we can ensure that the public has access to accurate and reliable information about healthcare options, while also protecting against deceptive practices that can harm both consumers and the healthcare industry.

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Journalism

Supporting Startup Founders’ Mental Health: The Importance of Prioritizing Well-Being in the Fast-Paced Startup World

Alice Trout

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As the startup world continues to thrive and grow, it’s important to recognize that the fast-paced, high-stress environment can take a toll on the mental health of founders and employees. In fact, research has shown that entrepreneurs are at a higher risk for mental health issues such as anxiety and depression compared to the general population.

One key factor that contributes to this risk is the pressure to succeed and the fear of failure that can come with starting and running a business. Additionally, the long hours and lack of work-life balance that are often associated with the startup world can also contribute to mental health challenges.

It’s essential that startups prioritize the mental health of their founders and employees, not only for the well-being of the individual, but also for the overall success of the business. Research has shown that mental health issues can negatively impact productivity and decision-making, which can have serious consequences for a company.

There are a few steps that startups can take to support the mental health of their team members:

  1. Encourage open communication and create a safe space for employees to talk about their mental health concerns.
  2. Offer resources such as counseling and mental health benefits to employees.
  3. Foster a culture of self-care by promoting healthy habits such as regular exercise and proper nutrition.
  4. Set boundaries and encourage work-life balance to prevent burnout.

For those not ready to go to the doctor or looking for support, mental health startups Europe offer help through apps.

It’s important to remember that mental health is just as important as physical health, and it’s crucial that startups prioritize the well-being of their founders and employees. By taking steps to support the mental health of their team, startups can create a positive and healthy work environment that leads to success for both the business and its employees.

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