|Zack Kucharski, executive editor of The Gazette, speaks with a Mount Mercy student in a conference room at the paper May 1, 2018.|
The main product that belongs to any media outlet or journalist is trust, Zack Kucharski, executive editor at The Gazette told one of my classes this morning.
We were on our annual pilgrimage to the newsroom of The Gazette, our local daily newspaper. It’s one of my favorite days of the year, partly because Zack is always such a kind host to our tours.
Today, the May 1 morning began with me dithering about transportation. To bike or not to bike: That was the question. There were storms west of here, but here there were none at the time, and the weather app on my phone indicated just a 15 percent chance of rain.
But on my KCRG app, Kaj O’Mara seemed to be more sure of rain. So, I graded some papers at home and let the time slip by until driving my Dodge rather than pedaling one of my bikes became my only option to get to The Gazette.
Score one for local media. As I drove south to downtown Cedar Rapids, the sky, which has been dry for a fortnight, opened up with a warm spring thunderstorm.
Parking was a challenge, as it seemed all of the streets near The Gazette were under construction. I arrived a few minutes after 9:30 to find just a handful of my students had arrived before me. But, as Zack joined us about 9:40 to start our one-hour visit, more showed up—eventually 16 students joined us, my whole class.
|Mount Mercy students meet with editor of The Gazette.|
We had a quick look at the newsroom, and then Zack ushered us into a conference room for a 15-minute Q and A before the morning editors’ news meeting. A handful of editors crowded into the room with us and quickly reviewed what’s going on in the CR corner of the world.
After the news meeting, we had a few more minutes with Zack. He spoke with students about The Gazette’s new paywall, about how the students should be comfortable telling stories in many venues and about trust.
In a fake “fake news” world, maintaining trust is the main objective for journalists.
Zack also enjoined students to remember that each of them has just one indispensable asset: The trust that others place in them. That’s true whether the others are readers, viewers, listeners or professional colleagues.
“We make mistakes every day,” Zack added. But when you make a mistake, he said, admit it, correct it and learn from it—most of all, don’t deny it. To deny is to break trust.
|Zack speaks in lobby of Gazette.|
I believe Zack Kucharski believes what he says. And I think that, as one of the owner-employees of The Gazette, what he said reflects a spirit that is present in what The Gazette does. These days, it’s in fashion to bash the media from the right and sometimes the left for real and perceived biases.
But, trust me, if you want to know what’s going on CR, you do need a source you can believe in. For weather, for me, that Kaj. For news, for me, it is The Gazette. They aren’t perfect, but if you tune only into their imperfections, trust me, you’ll be placing trust somewhere else where it probably doesn’t belong.
And I trust students heard that message.