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How we work - by Reuters

Reuters journalists are being asked to put more effort into showing how they work by telling the story behind the story.

So called “backstories” were introduced in December 2017 with a commitment “not only to deliver accurate, unbiased news but to share more information about the way we work and the standards under which we operate”.

“The idea was to tell stories about how we tell stories,” editor-in-chief Stephen Adler (photo) told editorial staff in a note about what he called “an important and exciting initiative”.

“We thought the transparency would generate both interest and trust, in tandem with our decision to publish the Trust Principles beneath our story on our websites,” he wrote.

Now, backstories have to become part of the daily news planning process, and get assigned, reported, and edited in the same manner as daily spot stories.

Three regional editors have been assigned to lead the backstory file: Bill Rigby in the Americas, Andrew Heavens in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and Raju Gopalakrishnan Asia.

“We want to be flexible and fast,” Adler wrote. In general backstories should be the same length as a spot news story, but there can be exceptions. When practical, backstories can be in a visual rather than text format.

Possible topics might include obstacles faced in reporting or communicating a story; news judgment or deployment issues; planning; training necessary to undertake the assignment; techniques or technologies employed; ethical standards; and the reporting or editing experience for the journalists involved. ■