Editorial: Rebuilding trust

A different kind of journalism is not only possible, but necessary, argues Ronnie Convery

As the second anniversary of the word ‘Covid’ entering our vocabulary approaches, it’s worth stopping for a moment to examine our health. Not our physical health, but rather our cultural health.

In these 24 months of Covid-19, polarization has taken over, pushing us imperceptibly into a ‘yes/no’ world where even a scrap of cloth covering someone’s face can be seen as an enemy symbol in the latest battlefield of the culture wars.

One result of this ‘virus’ of division is that it has entered the world of the media, trapping commentators, newspapers, scientists and social media rabble-rousers in an endless exhausting battle where he/she who shouts loudest wins.

Journalists and communicators have often lost the sense of what constitutes reliable fact-based news as they are ‘infected’ by the craving for likes and wild comment fuelled by click-bait headlines, where context and content are relegated to the dustbin of history.

Covid has changed us, maybe for the worse … The time of posters celebrating our health workers, applause on the doorsteps of deserted streets and songs on balconies has long since come to an end as we fight for survival in an economy battered by price rises and inflation.

The new generation of students exist in a kind of cyber isolation, moving from one online lecture to another, while workers find themselves working more while living in an on-off sentence of isolation hoping some new government announcement will bring a boost to earnings or a new benefit.

In the midst of all this ideological warfare, a new kid has shown up on the communications block. Advancing under the banner of ‘Constructive Journalism’, the new guy proposes an alternative to the culture war – a kind of culture solution. And we at Adamah are part of that gentle revolution.

It is precisely in this climate of ugliness and fatigue that constructive journalism plays a crucial role; it is precisely at this moment that those of us responsible for communication and information (both professional and so-called ‘citizen’ journalists) must go back to being a reference point for the community we represent.

Because not only is our sector facing an unprecedented crisis (newspaper sales continue in a scary spiral downwards), but the black mood hovering over homes, cities and villages is partly our fault.

It is our fault if, instead of contextualizing and informing, we give voice and space to non-news in order to get more comments or ‘likes’ for our articles and posts; it is our fault if trustworthy and serious sources of information lose their authority and credibility as a 24-hour rolling news beast roars ‘any talking head will do’ faced with the pressure for quantity rather than quality of content.

It is our fault if people choose to get information on social media rather than from reliable sources, thus fuelling the spread of fake news and opinions.

Today more than ever we need to rebuild trust from the remnants of anger and division the pandemic has caused.

We are all tired, exhausted and sad. There is a desire and need for normality. Division does not contribute and will never contribute to restoring our lightness of spirit.

A different kind of journalism is not only possible, but necessary; we must rise from our ashes by putting ourselves on the side of the reader because the reader is our first priority.

We must always ask ourselves why a particular piece is being written and for what purpose.

There is a need for positivity, but not just the positivity of the downward trend in Covid statistics, but the positivity of a journalism that makes people better or at least more aware.

That’s where Adamah comes in …

This week we offer you a variety of topics, from writers around the world, offering a ‘different’ approach. Read on, not to be infuriated, or reassured in your echo chamber, but to be enriched.

Like what you’ve read? Consider supporting the work of Adamah by making a donation and help us keep exploring life’s big (and not so big) issues!

Ronnie Convery is a journalist and broadcaster who has written for a variety of publications in the UK and Italy. Currently he divides his time between directing communications at the Archdiocese of Glasgow and serving as Italian Honorary Consul in the city. He has a long background in print and TV, a strong presence on social media and recently penned a book entitled Reclaiming the Piazza (about creating space for dialogue to overcome division). Ronnie is Associate Editor of Adamah.

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