2024 will be defined as the biggest election year in history, with more voters than ever heading to the ballot box. At least 70 elections will be happening this year (some already have), involving half of the world's population, and the results will prove consequential for years to come.
The media offers a vital platform for political parties to share their manifestos and be challenged. But as we saw in the 2020 US elections, it can also be used to undermine, with claims of 'fake news' becoming a central part of the pre-election rhetoric.
The trust crisis
The elections are coming at a time when trust in the news is declining. The last Digital News Report by the Reuters Institute revealed that only four in ten (40 per cent) trust the news most of the time.
In the UK, trust in news is among the lowest, coupled with high levels of news avoidance. An alarming nine per cent of people reported being totally disconnected from the news, and three in 10 UK adults admitted to not trusting the news very much, with six per cent expressing no trust at all.
Meanwhile, 30 per cent of respondents said that social media is the primary way they come across news, surpassing the 22 per cent of direct news consumers. Social media makes it incredibly easy for users to share incorrect information quickly and widely, making it a fertile breeding ground for skewed information, public opinion and political discourse.
The rise of AI-enabled deepfakes poses another layer of complexity for news consumers. So, how can the media provide accurate, reliable and quality reporting during the elections at a time when trust is dwindling?
Live-blogging meets fact-checking
Liveblogs serve as one powerful solution. Short, 'snackable', real-time updates can rival social media, ensuring that audiences stay informed and engaged with the latest information.
When events unfold rapidly, which will be the case during the elections, liveblogs help distinguish between confirmed and unconfirmed reports. Journalists can maintain openness and mitigate the risk of spreading unverified information.
Journalists at the German news organisation Süddeutsche Zeitung, for instance, are explicit about which stories are developing and may contain as yet unconfirmed content. Once reports are confirmed or debunked, they are promptly updated, maintaining a reliable and transparent flow of information.
The Austrian Press Agency also combined liveblogs with its fact-checking team when it saw false information increase alarmingly and become more complex. Combining the two makes reporting more credible and accurate for news audiences.
Creating credibility, transparency and authenticity
Use live Q&A sessions or interviews with subject experts to provide in-depth analysis and context, offering audiences a better understanding of complex issues.
MDR, a public German broadcaster, did this particularly well during the covid-19 pandemic and cost of living crisis by actively encouraging readers to share their questions in the liveblog's comment section.
By addressing these questions directly within the chat, MDR fostered a sense of trust by providing readers with direct access to neutral and knowledgeable professionals. This reinforced the expertise of the media outlet's team and also contributed to a more well-rounded perspective of events, with no room for spin or bias.
User-generated content (UGC) can also be curated and verified to create a more engaging and inclusive narrative beyond just text. This format not only involves the audience in the reporting process but also establishes a sense of community, fostering a greater relationship between the media and its audience and helping to build trust.
Similarly, publishers can enhance their coverage of the elections by incorporating interactive elements such as polls, videos, and live comment blocks into liveblogs. These mirror a lot of the features that users enjoy and expect on social media.
Naomi Owusu is the co-founder and CEO of Tickaroo. Her educational background in organisational development and psychology has moulded her mission to empower individuals and enterprises to reach new heights in their digital media production. She has collaborated with numerous news providers, sports companies, and event organizsrs, including kicker, Sueddeutsche Zeitung, and the German Handball Association. Her role at Tickaroo is to increase international growth and enable partners to reach their audiences and goals while promoting positive change within the digital media landscape
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