- By Chuck Kaiser, Edelman
- April 26, 2018
Chicago’s Metropolitan Planning Council recently hosted Edwin Eisendrath, CEO of the Chicago Sun-Times, and Mary Mitchell, a columnist for the paper, for an event entitled The Role of Media in Building a Better Chicago. The discussion tackled the importance of media to our city but the commentary was relevant for getting the story right everywhere.
Newspapers are at the core of building trust in communities because they bring local issues to light and life and hold accountable those in power, according to Eisendrath.
In a provocative discussion, where Edwin willingly enlisted Mary as interrogator, he discussed the critical need to tell the stories of Chicago communities and residents – and why it’s important for media to stay authentic to their mission and provide a product that represents the readers.
The conversation between these two passionate lifelong Chicagoans underscored the overarching issue we saw in this year’s Edelman Trust Barometer results: Media is widely distrusted, a decline driven by increased skepticism in the difference between what’s true and what’s not true. This distrust of media is concerning, but those who value news crafted by the fourth estate should keep the faith.
Eisendrath and Mitchell outlined the Sun-Times’ path to building trust, which can serve as a guideline for not just media but business, government and community groups. Eisendrath hit the bullseye when he asserted we need a “shared base of facts,” without editorial bias, as a starting point for discussions. Without a solid understanding of all the facts from multiple points of view, we can’t have effective policy discussions or create change.
The Sun-Times seems to know its role as part of the overall media ecosystem and rallies the daily around “having the backs of working men and women in Chicago,” as Eisendrath puts it. Beyond this populist positioning, he’s prudent to focus the daily on hyper-local news and showcase the grit and reality of Chicago, instead of covering rehashing national topics.
While trust in media is at an all-time low, trust in journalists has spiked dramatically.
Newspapers are at the core of building trust in communities because they bring local issues to light and life and hold accountable those in power, according to Eisendrath. As Mitchell rightly noted, some communities have felt disconnected from and disenfranchised by local authorities, elected officials and from local reporting. She’s tapping into an upward trend we’re seeing in the Trust Barometer – that while trust in media is at an all-time low, trust in journalists has spiked dramatically. This gives us hope that there’s still a thirst for truth and that a great, balanced story, informed by facts, remains a catalyst to helping our society survive and thrive.
Chuck Kaiser is general manager of the corporate affairs practice in Chicago.
Watch the program in its entirety here:
MPC thanks Edelman for generously sponsoring this Think & Drink event.