The Scoop: NPR, New York Times face questions over trust – from the inside and the outside

Plus: LinkedIn eyes creators; banks are betting big on AI.

NPR has trust issues

Trust is the single most important currency newsrooms have. Without it, nothing is possible.

But both NPR and the New York Times are facing massive conversations about just how much of that trust they have – and if they’re worthy of it. And in most cases, the call is coming from inside the house.

NPR’s conversation began when Uri Berliner, a longtime, current editor at the radio outlet, published an essay in The Free Press discussing how he feels the media organization lost the public’s trust. Berliner notes he “eagerly” voted against Donald Trump twice, but says the organization’s liberal bent leads to what he sees as biased reporting and groupthink. He also points a finger at affinity groups and DE&I initiatives for having an outsized role at the table while “viewpoint diversity” does not.

“An open-minded spirit no longer exists within NPR, and now, predictably, we don’t have an audience that reflects America,” Berliner wrote.



Meanwhile, the New York Times is facing organizational pushback over a staff that is revolting over the newspaper’s own coverage. Competitor the Wall Street Journal reported this week that the hunt is on for a staffer who allegedly leaked information over NYT’s reporting on the war between Israel and Hamas to another outlet. The information shared was on an article and podcast about the use of sexualized violence by Hamas in the October 7 terrorist attacks. Some staff felt that similar issues in Gaza aren’t getting enough attention, WSJ reported, something leadership denies.

“The idea that someone dips into that process in the middle, and finds something that they considered might be interesting or damaging to the story under way, and then provides that to people outside, felt to me and my colleagues like a breakdown in the sort of trust and collaboration that’s necessary in the editorial process,” NYT Executive Editor Joe Kahn said in an interview with the Journal. “I haven’t seen that happen before.”

Why it matters: These are obviously both huge obstacles for these trust-based organizations. NPR has long faced accusations of liberal bias, which is particularly fraught for an organization that relies on tax dollars for a small portion of its funding, but specific allegations from a current staffer carry more weight than outside critiques.

Likewise, the Times faces a somewhat opposite issue: leadership is trying to maintain an appearance of neutrality while staffers want to push farther in either direction.

In both cases, external PR issues began internally. This is a reminder to reach across the aisle to internal comms colleagues (or if you’re in a small organization, put on your other hat) and ensure strong processes are in place to handle concerns about overall strategy and decision-making. A leak policy is also a must. Ironically, while journalists often rely on leaks for their juiciest stories, they can be just as damaging to their own operations.

From that trust perspective, it’s also an opportunity for PR pros to evaluate where you’re doing your outreach. Is the organization trusted by the people who matter most to you? Republicans might trust Fox News and Democrats might trust NPR. That’s not necessarily a problem for a PR pro – as long as you know your audience and are pitching accordingly, with a clear understanding of who gravitates to those sources and their biases.

Editor’s Top Reads:

  • LinkedIn is getting into the creator economy. CNBC reports that the buttoned-up social network’s move to allow companies to boost posts from users is a big step into establishing a paid influencer network. LinkedIn is hoping to capture a larger part of the social ad market, where it badly lags competitors and currently captures just 4% of the overall spend. There’s an opportunity given X’s sharp decline in trust (there’s that word again!).
  • Major banks are making major bets on AI, Axios reports. In particular, JPMorgan Chase, Capital One and the Royal Bank of Canada are seen as the leaders of the revolution – Chase alone employs 2,000 AI specialists. And the partnerships being built now are helping AI too: Axios notes that OpenAI’s partnership with Morgan Stanley boosts trust (and again!) for the booming, yet still misunderstood, AI industry. Banks will have their work cut out for them to help customers feel confident their money is being managed well, but it’s clear they see AI as the future.
  • Finally, the market is getting more of its least favorite thing: uncertainty. Once it seemed certain that the Federal Reserve would soon cut interest rates. But indicators of a booming market like persistently high inflation and strong jobs numbers mean that not only might rates not be cut, they may actually rise yet again, CNN reports. It looks more likely that we’ll see a cut this year, however this economy has proven to be consistently surprising. As a communicator, make sure you’re staying on top of broader market trends and stand ready to pivot strategy to meet the needs of a wacky economy.

Allison Carter is editor-in-chief of PR Daily. Follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn.


One Response to “The Scoop: NPR, New York Times face questions over trust – from the inside and the outside”

    Brian O'Neel says:

    For huge swaths of the American public, NPR and NYT both lost trust decades ago. You should have stipulated that they’re losing it amongst liberals. Berliner’s critique is the understatement of the past 50 years.

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