How do you build relationships and trust?
Building trust and lasting relationships within communities can be difficult. It is your job to hold people in power accountable, and to report stories that, while accurate, may not always be favourable. Sometimes there is also a legacy of bad reporting. Misrepresentations and inaccuracies in media narratives — especially in communities that are historically under-represented — may spark distrust of journalists.
And you are likely not the first journalist to come into a community, so you carry the legacy of past wrongdoings. This means you need to put in the work to build trust.
Speaking about the film, All Our Father’s Relations, director Alejandro Yoshizawa said that before the film aired on CBC, “we did a special screening, before the film was done of course, with a rough cut version with Musqueam Treaty people because they’re very vigilant about how Musqueam history is represented in the media, and I think rightfully so.”
Even if you are a member of the community, it can be difficult to navigate the role of insider-reporter. Whatever your positionality, establishing yourself as a trusted person who can accurately report the information shared with you can take time.
When talking about his series ‘Who’s Afraid of Aymann Ismail?’, Slate’s Aymann Ismail told us, “my approach was to ask questions that I didn’t already have the answer to. That was going to be my bar, because as a Muslim American and doing a story about Muslim Americans, I came through it with a lot of assumptions, where I thought I knew what my community was about, because these questions I thought were about me. And so I needed to look and interrogate my own feelings and my own relationship with this community and ask questions that I was genuinely curious about so that I can learn something in the process.”