My friends are afraid of me

Yes, I’m flabbergasted as well. My friends are really afraid of me as a journalist. “No, but I can’t tell you more about topic X, because you will write it down in your journalismthingpaperjournal”, is a reaction I often get. Every time it takes my surprise. Every time I have to explain to my friends certain journalistic (ethical) codes: one source is no source; journalists don’t publish information friends tell them, because they don’t want to disrupt the friendship (and need more sources and facts than one story).

This experience made me think of the article of Deuze and Prenger (2016) wherein they touch the narrative that the press is ‘”suffering from a loss in public trust and confidence”‘ and people see traditional institutions more and more as ‘”zombie containers” without meaning’, while seeking guidance by each other instead of by experts like journalist (Deuze & Prenger 2016: 12-13).


One solution for this trust-problem is to inform the public about journalistic methods. Everybody should know that independent journalist need more sources for their facts, that there is something called off the record-information, that not everything somebody says will be published the next day, etc. Journalism works because the public trusts journalist and therefore journalists should enforce this trust more. How? To show how we work. How? Podcasts are a good attempt, like The New York Times does with The Daily, Dutch newspapers NRC and Volkskrant with Haagse Zaken and Het Volkskrantgeluid. But I think that podcasts are mostly listened by journalist or people that are more media-wise/sophisticated. So we should incorporate the information about how we make articles, how we found our sources and what we can tell and what not more in the articles we publish.

Mark Middel


Deuze, Mark & Prenger, Mirjam, “The structural history and theory of innovation and entrepreneurialism in journalism”, forthcoming in Boczkowski, Pablo & Anderson, Chris, Remaking the News, Cambridge: MIT Press. 2016.

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