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'Follow the mission, break glass and have fun' - editor-in-chief

The role of media organisations is to help find the path through the barrage of information available to news consumers, Reuters editor-in-chief Alessandra Galloni (photo) said on Tuesday.

“I can speak best for what we do at Reuters, which is to follow the path of strictly fact-based, rigorously fact-checked journalism. We believe that that is one of the reasons we’re considered one of the most trusted news organisations in the world,” she said at a technology conference.


Galloni joined leading editors at the annual event in Lisbon to address the issue of trust in media and how the media can fight back against anti-media attacks that threaten the industry’s legitimacy.


She recognised that part of the problem with trust is that the media can be seen as elite. “We have to be humble, to correct our mistakes, to realise we are covering the first draft of history,” she said.


“Social media has allowed a disintermediation, so that government, institutions and individuals no longer need to go through the press to get their messages out, so you have this cacophony of news which has also eroded trust.”


Because of this the need for fact-based news is not only a journalistic imperative but also a business opportunity. She noted how wide-ranging coverage on COVID-19 demonstrated this.


“News you can use … for example, news that help you decide whether or not to wear a mask or to get vaccinated. When it is something that helps you decide about your life, your family, your company, your country, this is an important public service. It is also a real business opportunity for media organisations that provide it.”


Diversity in the media is another reason for the erosion of trust, said Galloni. “To be a credible news organisation, we have to look like the world we cover, and our coverage must reflect the world we cover.”


On becoming the first female editor-in-chief in Reuters 170-year history, she said: “If I can be a role model for women coming into the profession, I welcome that. I hope to make diversity a centrepiece of my tenure.”


Her advice to the next generation of journalists coming into the industry when trust levels are at an all-time low and at a time of great change: “Follow the mission, break glass and have fun.” ■