P. Kim Bui

377. Get rid of your ego and be an empathetic journalist

Reporters know well the frustration of going out to report a story, with a clear idea in mind of what’s going on, only to find their interviews don’t support their concept.

The same happens in newsrooms, when leaders determine in advance what their audiences will want.

A different, and perhaps better, approach, is a form of empathetic journalism that puts the audience, or the interviewee, first. 

“It’s about really listening and trying to see audiences for who they are, not who we think they are, and letting them direct the coverage a little bit more than we ever have before,” says P. Kim Bui, director of audience innovation for The Arizona Republic. “We used to do pedestal journalism — we know best, let us tell you what the news is. Empathetic journalism takes the other tack: I don’t know about this, please tell me more, we want to hear from you, I want to learn from you, as a reporter, as I do this. It takes the ego out of journalists a little bit.” 

Empathetic journalism also involves a deeper level of listening and trying to hear an interviewee’s story not just on the surface, but to try and better understand that person in a particular moment of their life. 

“If you’re writing a story about a drug addict who killed two people, try to understand the motivation behind that person, what drove them there, to see them as human, as a character, as a person, and trying to relay that to the audience,” she says. “I think we can sometimes get lost in trying to tell the story we want to tell. Every reporter does that.”

The same goes for newsrooms and which stories get covered. As organizations try to figure out how to cover more with smaller staffs, it’s easy — and common — to go with what’s been done before. 

In the process of trying to find their way forward, “we’ve kind of forgotten about the audience, and that we’re not typical consumers of news. You’ll get journalists saying ‘the audience doesn’t want this.’ How do you know? When’s the last time you talked to a regular human? Being able to tell stories that are useful, empathetic and newsworthy in a quick manner on multiple platforms is a challenge right now,” she says. 

P. Kim Bui, director of audience innovation for The Arizona Republic, joins producer Michael O’Connell to discuss empathetic journalism and why listening to “real humans” can help newsrooms better serve their readers, viewers and listeners.

Allison Taylor-Levine

625. Community collaboration key to evolving local journalism

Allison Taylor Levine, CEO of Local Journalism Initiative, discusses how LJI’s Delaware Journalism Collaborative, which has brought more than 25 partners throughout the state together to report on polarization and possible solutions, strengthens local journalism in Delaware and our democracy.

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Joanne Griffith

510. Why diversity should be part of everything newsrooms do

Joanne Griffith is the chief content officer of the American Public Media Group’s APM Studios. The talks to It’s All Journalism host Michael O’Connell about her role overseeing APM Studios’ editorial vision and brand voice. They also discuss why it makes sense for newsrooms to make diversity part of everything they do.

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