2018 was a tough year for journalists around the world and across the country, but the New Year always holds promise. With a little hope and hard work, we can protect and promote local news and our news teams in 2019.
Know your rights
2018 brought more threats and obstruction attempts affecting journalists than ever, making it more important than ever for journalists to know their rights and to know what to do when their rights are threatened. Make a plan to educate yourself and your newsroom in 2019.
Consider holding a newsroom town hall with your station’s counsel and check out our rights guide as a starting point. Be sure to stay up-to-date on digital and copyright issues, FOIA, privacy and cameras in courts.
Most of us would prefer to not to become part of the story and to let our work speak for itself. However, eroding trust and growing misinformation is doing real damage to the public’s understanding of what journalism really is and why it is important.
New research shows that it’s increasingly important to defend press freedom, as RTDNA has been doing and urging members to do: Including opinion pieces defending journalism’s role in society alongside news and fact checking increases trust in news. Consider how to include messages from your news director, general manager, or RTDNA about what journalism is and why it matters in your content plan.
“Watch your back, but don’t back down,” has been our refrain over the past year. While journalism as a whole is still a relatively safe profession, for the first time, the United States is one of the top five most dangerous places for journalists, and violence against journalists in the U.S. was up 15% in 2018.
In 2019, take threats seriously and be prepared to mitigate and respond to safety threats inside your newsroom, for reporters in the field and online.
Take care of yourself and your team
Journalism is a stressful profession, with daily exposure to traumatic stories, but we know more than ever about how trauma affects journalists, how to recognize symptoms of depression and how to combat their effects.
Newsroom managers should make a plan to regularly and proactively address the daily stresses news teams face as well as to plan for crises.
Lead in your newsroom
Could 2019 be your year to step up and be a leader in your newsroom? Even if being a manager isn’t in your plan, you may be glad later if you take a leap. And even longtime news managers still have room to grow and learn.
Take advantage of opportunities to step up in 2019, like by participating in the Freedom Forum Institute’s Workplace Integrity Train-the-Trainer workshop or RTDNA’s leadership summit for local news teams.
Win a Murrow Award (and do Murrow-worthy work)
Submit your best work from 2018 to the Murrow Awards competition by February 14 (and save by being a member and entering before the February 4 early bird deadline).
Then, continue doing Murrow-worthy work every day. Get inspired by hearing from past winners and looking behind-the-scenes of winning work. See what Murrow Award winners have in common and what drives their work every day.
2019 is a year to innovate in your newsroom. No matter your position, pick one problem and tackle it step-by-step. Challenge yourself and your team to think big picture about what’s changing for newsrooms and to keep up with what new models other newsrooms are trying.
Work to instill a mindset of taking some risks and being willing to fail sometimes, creating a culture of continued testing big ideas beyond just cosmetic changes.
Do more and better journalism
The firmest antidote to attacks on journalism, to mis- and disinformation, is more and better responsible journalism, holding officials accountable, answering community questions and illustrating both problems and solutions.
So what investigative projects, community engagement tactics or big ideas have you been thinking about in the back of your mind? What’s holding you back? Tackle them in 2019!
As you pursue your 2019 goals, RTDNA will be here, having your back with advocacy, ethics resources, leadership guidance and training.