The role of media organisations is to help find the path through the barrage of information available to news consumers, Reuters Editor-in-Chief Alessandra Galloni said at Web Summit on Tuesday. “I can speak best for what we do at Reuters, which is to follow the path of strictly fact-based, rigorously fact-checked journalism. We believe that that is one of the reasons we’re considered one of the most trusted news organisations in the world.”
Galloni joined leading editors to address the issue of trust in media and how the media can fight back against anti-media attacks that threaten the industry’s legitimacy.
Speaking at the annual technology conference in Lisbon, Portugal, Galloni recognised that part of the problem with trust is that the media can be seen as elite. “We have to be humble, to correct our mistakes, to realise we are covering the first draft of history.”
“Social media has allowed a disintermediation, so that government, institutions and individuals no longer need to go through the press to get their messages out, so you have this cacophony of news which has also eroded trust.”
Galloni recognised that because of this “cacophony,” the need for fact-based news is not only a journalistic imperative but also a business opportunity – and noted how the wide-ranging coverage on COVID-19 demonstrated this.
“News you can use…for example, news that help you decide whether or not to wear a mask or to get vaccinated. When it is something that helps you decide about your life, your family, your company, your country, this is an important public service. It is also a real business opportunity for media organizations that provide it.”
Diversity in the media is another reason for the erosion of trust, said Galloni. “To be a credible news organization, we have to look like the world we cover, and our coverage must reflect the world we cover.”
On becoming the first female editor-in-chief in Reuters 170-year history, she said: “If I can be a role model for women coming into the profession, I welcome that. I hope to make diversity a centrepiece of my tenure.”
Galloni also sat down with Axios’ Sara Fischer for a fireside chat on leading a news powerhouse and the key focus areas of “trust, talent and transformation.”
On her advice to the next generation of journalists coming into the industry when trust levels are at an all-time low and at a time of great change, Galloni said: “Follow the mission, break glass and have fun.”
kayley.rogers @ tr.com