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"32 Percent Project" Comes To Oxford To Discuss Public Perception Of Media

32 Percent Project. Photo by Steven Gagliano

On Friday, three journalism professors from the University of Oregon traveled to Oxford to host a session for their project titled the “32% Project”. According to one of the organizers, Todd Milbourn, the 32 percent refers to the percent of the population that trusts the news media. The trio created the project with hopes of finding out what the media can do to win back public trust.
“We are trying to understand what people trust, and distrust and why,” Milbourn explained. “We think that with a better understanding from the public of what builds trust, we can help journalists began to rebuild that trust.”
The three professors have been through several stops for their project including a small town in Illinois, Boston, and now Oxford. They have noticed several themes that have emerged in each destination.
“One theme that has emerged is that a lot of people feel that they don’t have a voice. They feel that the media comes to their town and extract stories as opposed the spending time, building relationships, getting to know the communities and understanding its history,” Milbourn said. “While different areas may not use the same language, we’ve heard a lot of similar stories everywhere we’ve been. We want to explore how to do journalism that’s not just about getting a quote, a story and a click, but journalism that is about relationships.”

The open forum was attended by several members of the Oxford community and members of local media. The hosts posed questions asking attendees about what type of organizations they trust both in and outside of news. Answers varied to include family, friends, churches, doctors, and even pizza delivery services.
The discussions about news revealed that people are worried about potential bias in the news along with personal opinions making their way into the news.

At the end, attendees were asked to describe what they would do to make a news organization trustworthy if they were at the helm and money was no object. 

The 32 Percent Project’s findings will be shared at the Online News Association’s meeting in Washington D.C. in October. 

Steven Gagliano is the managing editor of HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at steven.gagliano@hottytoddy.com

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