Connect with us


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

Patricia Cruz



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).

Picture: Untitled by Campaign Creators @campaign_creators

License Unsplash.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


The benefits of practicing mindfulness and how to start

Alice Trout



In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to get caught up in the chaos of everyday life. Between work, family, and other responsibilities, we often forget to take care of ourselves. This is where mindfulness comes in. Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment, without judgment. In this article, we will explore the benefits of practicing mindfulness and how to start.

Benefits of Practicing Mindfulness

  1. Reduces stress and anxiety

Mindfulness can help to reduce stress and anxiety levels. By focusing on the present moment, you can calm your mind and reduce racing thoughts.

  1. Improves mental clarity

Practicing mindfulness can improve mental clarity and focus. It can help to clear your mind of distractions and increase productivity.

  1. Enhances self-awareness

Mindfulness can increase self-awareness and help you to understand your thoughts and emotions better. By being present in the moment, you can learn to recognize your patterns of thinking and behavior.

  1. Improves relationships

Mindfulness can help to improve relationships by increasing empathy and compassion. By being present with others, you can develop a deeper understanding of their needs and feelings.

How to Start Practicing Mindfulness

  1. Set aside time

Set aside a specific time every day to practice mindfulness. It can be as little as 5-10 minutes per day to start.

  1. Find a quiet space

Find a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed. It could be a quiet corner of your home or a quiet park.

  1. Focus on your breath

Focus on your breath and the physical sensations of breathing. Notice the rise and fall of your chest and the sensation of air moving in and out of your body.

  1. Be present

Allow yourself to be present in the moment without judgment. Let your thoughts and emotions come and go without dwelling on them.

  1. Practice regularly

Make mindfulness a regular practice. It takes time to develop the habit, but the benefits are worth it.

In conclusion, practicing mindfulness can have numerous benefits for our mental and physical well-being. It’s a simple yet powerful practice that can be incorporated into our daily lives. By setting aside a few minutes each day to practice mindfulness, we can reduce stress and anxiety, improve mental clarity, and enhance our relationships. So why not give it a try? Your mind and body will thank you for it.

Continue Reading


How to create a perfect morning routine for a productive day

Alice Trout



Do you ever feel like your day has gotten away from you before it even starts? One way to combat this feeling is to create a perfect morning routine. Establishing a routine can help you start your day off on the right foot, and set the tone for a productive and successful day. Here are some tips on how to create a morning routine that works for you.

Determine Your Priorities

Before you start creating a morning routine, it’s important to determine what your priorities are. What are the things that you want to accomplish in the morning? Do you want to exercise, meditate, or have a healthy breakfast? Once you have a list of your priorities, you can start creating a routine that includes them.

Wake Up at the Same Time Every Day

Waking up at the same time every day can help regulate your body’s natural sleep cycle and make it easier to fall asleep at night. Try to wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This can help establish a consistent routine and make it easier to stick to.

Take Time for Yourself

Many people feel rushed and stressed in the morning, but taking some time for yourself can help alleviate this feeling. Whether it’s meditating, reading a book, or simply enjoying a cup of coffee, taking time for yourself can help you start your day feeling calm and centered.


Exercise is a great way to start your day, as it can help increase your energy levels and improve your mood. Whether it’s a quick jog, yoga practice, or weightlifting session, try to include some form of exercise in your morning routine.

Eat a Healthy Breakfast

Breakfast is often called the most important meal of the day, and for good reason. Eating a healthy breakfast can help fuel your body and provide the energy you need to start your day. Try to include protein, whole grains, and fruit or vegetables in your breakfast.

Plan Your Day

Taking a few minutes to plan your day can help you stay focused and productive. Make a to-do list or set priorities for the day, and review your calendar to make sure you’re prepared for any meetings or appointments.

Stick to Your Routine

Once you’ve created a morning routine that works for you, try to stick to it as much as possible. Consistency is key, and sticking to your routine can help establish healthy habits and improve your overall productivity.

In conclusion, creating a perfect morning routine can help set the tone for a productive and successful day. By determining your priorities, waking up at the same time every day, taking time for yourself, exercising, eating a healthy breakfast, planning your day, and sticking to your routine, you can create a morning routine that works for you. Remember, it’s all about finding what works best for you and your lifestyle.

Continue Reading


10 simple yet effective ways to reduce stress in your daily life

Alice Trout



Stress is an inevitable part of our lives, but it can have a negative impact on our mental and physical health if left unchecked. Fortunately, there are several simple yet effective ways to reduce stress in our daily lives. In this article, we will explore 10 such methods that you can easily incorporate into your routine.

Exercise regularly

Physical activity is an excellent way to relieve stress. It helps to release endorphins, which are natural mood-boosters. You don’t have to engage in high-intensity workouts to reap the benefits. Even a brisk walk or light yoga can help reduce stress levels.

Get enough sleep

Lack of sleep can cause irritability, mood swings, and increase stress levels. Make sure you get at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night to feel well-rested and refreshed.

Practice deep breathing

Deep breathing techniques such as diaphragmatic breathing can help to calm your mind and body. Inhale deeply through your nose and exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat this for a few minutes to feel relaxed.

Spend time in nature

Spending time in nature can have a calming effect on your mind and body. Take a walk in the park or go for a hike in the woods to feel rejuvenated.

Practice mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on the present moment without judgment. It can help to reduce stress and anxiety levels. Set aside a few minutes every day to practice mindfulness meditation.

Listen to music

Music has a soothing effect on our minds. Listening to calming music can help to reduce stress levels. Create a playlist of your favorite relaxing tunes and listen to it when you feel stressed.

Practice yoga or tai chi

Yoga and tai chi are ancient practices that combine physical postures and breathing techniques. They can help to reduce stress levels and promote relaxation.

Connect with loved ones

Talking to friends and family members can help to reduce stress levels. It can provide a sense of comfort and support during challenging times.

Practice gratitude

Focusing on the positive aspects of life can help to reduce stress levels. Make a habit of practicing gratitude by writing down things you are thankful for every day.

Take breaks

Taking short breaks throughout the day can help to reduce stress levels. Go for a short walk, practice deep breathing or simply take a few moments to close your eyes and relax.

In conclusion, stress is a part of life, but it doesn’t have to take over. By incorporating these simple yet effective methods into your daily routine, you can reduce stress levels and improve your overall well-being. Remember, taking care of yourself should always be a top priority.

Continue Reading