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Just like your mother told you — listening is better than talking

Much public fuss and discourse about negative attitudes toward media and journalists is certainly at a forefront for many news outlets. And rightfully so.

There has been certain degree of alienation, aloofness among certain groups of media consumers that their voices aren’t or haven’t been heard. These attitudes cross many parts of the audience spectrum — people of color, conservatives, liberals, religious and social justice advocates.

What has fostered these attitudes is a neglect of relationship building that the press is supposed to provide a forum for — a lack of leadership and participation.

I tell my students on a regular basis as they develop story ideas and story backgrounds that when engaging with people (a majority of their source material) they are building a relationship and all people like to be treated well. earphoto

What does that mean? It means don’t take people for granted — hear what they are saying. Listen to understand, and if need be, listen to question. Relationships are a two-way effort and is a give-and-take transaction.

This is not a new concept, but it is an example of complacency, and perhaps, arrogance and conceit.

I’ve been following a series of articles published by the American Press Institute addressing “a culture of listening” and how news organizations are creating innovative ways at engaging or re-gaging their audiences, especially at the community level.

Related to the series API tweeted — “When newsrooms start valuing relationships with their communities over the quantity of content they produce, it shapes journalism for the better.” 

How do you value community relationships? You listen to what they have to say. Some innovative examples in the article includes Peoria’s Journal Star in the Guardian hosting community meetings to discuss coverage of its South Side neighborhood, a predominately African-American area facing high levels of poverty.

The best way to incorporate these practices is to train new journalists early that listening is not only a good reporting skill, but is important to cultivating relationships with their audience.   Stephan Malick, Assistant Director of Student Publications

Category: From the News Room