This afternoon I’m popping down to Birmingham City University to meet Paul Bradshaw‘s group of online journalism students.
They’ve been doing some fascinating work on developing an environmental news service, with each of them specialising in a different subject area.
Environmental news is close to my heart. I would love The Post to be giving more coverage to stories on sustainability.
But it’s also one of those subject areas that many readers regard with great suspicion. Look at The Times guide to the most popular environmental stories of 2007 and you’ll see what I mean.
So, I guess the big question is, can you write environmental stories in a way that builds trust between you and the reader? Is the current suspicion surrounding climate change – for example – caused by media sensationalism or poor scientific reporting? Perhaps it’s neither, maybe it’s just human nature to respond to environmental stories with suspicion.
I certainly don’t know the answer. But in a world where the hegemony of large news corporations is increasingly challenged, the issue of maintaining trust as a way to maintain audience is critical.
And, I suspect, if you find a way to crack the hardest nut of trust and environmental reporting, then you have probably struck gold.