Sony Pixel Power calrec Sony

Local news: rebuilding trust and relevance in the pandemic


As the old newsroom clich has it, all news is local. And despite being a global pandemic, the Covid-19 crisis has been felt first in our families, on our doorsteps and in our streets. It's a worldwide issue understood at a local level, and that is where we come in.

At Thomson 2020 has been a year of doubling down on our long history of helping journalists make sense of the world for the audience right in front of them, in their local communities. After all we were born from global media empire that started with local radio and newspapers in small town Canada. It's in our DNA.

In a multitude of ways, big and small, our job in this most testing of years, has been to refocus our attention on getting to the root of issues, fast, and in cost effective way. Forging trusted relationships with editors and journalists under immense pressures, to get accurate news out that local audiences need, from media that are trusted and will survive.

Finding Balkan solutions to Balkan problems.

David Quin, director of development Thomson Foundation

Western Balkans Take our work in the Western Balkans. The multi-year, multi-country project could have been seriously derailed by border closures, social distancing measures and lockdowns. It hasn't because it was always designed to work first at a regional level, beyond the capitals, with media in cities like Ni , Novi Sad, Ohrid, Tetovo and Banja Luka. That means it's led, in its first phase, by a team built around the deep and wide experiences of digital media already in the region, around their knowledge and entrepreneurialism.

Only after doing that did we bring in editorial or business support from our worldwide network of experts. Collaboration, greatly helped by our E-Learning network Journalism Now is all driven towards finding Balkan solutions to Balkan problems, growing local audiences, exploring new revenue opportunities in the community and reinforcing trust.

Patterns of disinformation around Covid-19 The same is true in South America. Covid-19 has left a trail of destruction throughout the continent, devasting communities in Brazil, Argentina, Peru and beyond. With health systems at breaking point, PPE provision patchy and leaderships often spreading disinformation, there has never been a more critical time for trusted media to get a grip on the conversation. Our programmes in South America have been designed to look specifically at the methods and patterns of disinformation around Covid-19, in particular to look at how WhatsApp chat groups are replacing news with fact free conspiracy, at a city and regional level, and how media can correct the balance with engaging, honest content.

Most recently working across five regions of Argentina, Thomson has forged partnerships with critical local media players to help them strengthen their fact checking and data usage as part of a wider brand awareness and business development strategy. Again, all has been designed to fit their needs, with us doing a deep dive on how their media businesses work, and what disinformation challenges they face, with long term engagement and consultation driven by our innovation in e-learning and long-term knowledge of what works, fast.

Trusted relationships Covid-19 has tested states around the world in ways hard to imagine at the beginning of the year. But for countries emerging from decades of conflict, sanctions and mismanagement, the pressures the pandemic has created have been almost too much to bear. Sudan is one such place. Thomson has been working in Sudan for over six years. In that time everything we've done has been built on trusted relationships with editors and journalists, across the country, whose interests have always been with the people first. When Covid-19 began to be a major public health emergency in March, it was clear that our nationwide media network would have a role to play. So when the Sudanese Ministry of Information asked us to help design a nationwide programme to help media across the country our first thought was how to make it user friendly for media in their communities.

Innovation through WhatsApp But with communications difficult, travel to Sudan almost impossible and regional lockdowns being imposed we had to get innovative and quickly. Our local networks told us that the best way to reach the widest possible group would be to adapt our Journalism Now Covering Covid courses for WhatsApp. So we did. Within ten days we had reached 2,000 journalists alongside government health and communications teams. The vast majority completing the course in 45minutes on their phones. Getting the right skills on covering the pandemic for their audiences and joining up the message at a vital moment.

Every story locally relevant As this momentous year draws to a close its clear that much has changed and changed forever. And whilst media continue to lose revenue, disinformation remains rampant and authoritarian populism continues to shout loudly, what 2020 has reinforced to us at Thomson is that keeping every story locally relevant is the only way to rebuild trust when and where it's needed most.

Related content

Backbone of professional and independent journalism

Solutions to create trustworthy journalism

Messaging Apps: the right place at the right time

David Quin Director of Development

About: David is in charge of sourcing and managing all donor-funded projects. He leads the foundations largest ever project, the European Neighbourhood OPEN Media Hub.

We get around. Explore our project map
See more stories from thompsonfoundation

More from Thomson


Creating greater transparency and accountability of government

By Henry O. Maina Government is not a machine, but a living thing. It falls, not under the theory of the universe, but under the theory of organic life. It is a...


Thomson Foundation appoints Caro Kriel as chief executive

Thomson Foundation has appointed Caro Kriel - a veteran journalist with more than 20 years' experience in international news - as its new chief executive. ...


Greatest reward: Helping to progress the careers of countless journalists

Thomson Foundation is unique: the place where the cut and thrust of the news industry meets the more strategic international media development sector. Every ye...


Giving Sudanese a voice in rebuilding their economy

Rebuilding Sudan's shattered economy after the 2019 uprising requires the country's journalists to understand and explain the key economic issues to the...


Giving Sudanese a voice in rebuilding their economy.

Rebuilding Sudan's shattered economy after the 2019 uprising requires the country's journalists to understand and explain the key economic issues to the...


Raised voices: Giving women a voice in local media

A unique research project in a remote district of north-west Pakistan has helped to empower women and give them a voice in local media. Thomson was approached...


Remote control: Covid-19 and the smartphone

Ask Spanish television reporter Leonor Su rez what role mobile journalism played during the first wave of the pandemic and she barely pauses for thought. Moj...


Staying Safe: Introducing a journalist s guide to covering protests

Nata a Kova ev is a reporter with the Balkans based 24 hour news channel N1. She is the instructor for our online learning course, Staying safe: Covering protes...


Hidden from view: Reporting on human trafficking and modern slavery

Every journalist wants to go on a rescue mission. But hidden from view, the human trafficking story is one of the most challenging, complex and ethically testin...


Challenges of becoming a journalist in a restrictive society

Maryam Anam is an aspiring young radio journalist in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a region in north-west Pakistan where women's voices are rarely heard. She is being...


Local news: rebuilding trust and relevance in the pandemic

As the old newsroom clich has it, all news is local. And despite being a global pandemic, the Covid-19 crisis has been felt first in our families, on our doors...


Hard truths in Peru: Journalism without fear or favour

World Voices: Mart n Leandro Camacho, Peru Secuestraron mi pais. Emblazoned on a protest placard and photographed by Peruvian journalist, Mart n Leandro C...


My fellowship in a year of Covid-19

A fellowship with Thomson Media didnt go quite as Hend Kheiralla expected in the pandemic. At home in Sudan, I was used to working remotely for digital enterpr...


Why messaging apps put us in the right place at the right time

You're in a queue. How likely is it that you'll check your messages on your mobile phone? Even the least digital amongst us is spending 30 minutes a day...


Martin Leandro Camacho: The compassionate face of Peru

PROFILE: Young Journalist Award 2020 winner Mart n Leandro Camacho has always been passionate about being compassionate. The 27-year-old spent the formative...


Grounded by coronavirus: The challenges of virtual practical training

Grounded by Covid-19, our trainers have been learning new skills to be able to impart their expertise to their journalist trainees with promising results. Th...


Messaging Apps: Tackling training in the pandemic

Covid-19 may have forced our workshops online but by innovation and experimentation our trainers have continued to teach and mentor often on less conventional p...


When e-workshops are exciting - a blog by Khalida Niaz

Khalida Niaz is a journalist with the Tribal News Network based in Peshawar, Pakistan. She was amongst a group of editors and managers taking part in a course r...


Change at the top for the foundation

Thomson Foundation has announced that Nigel Baker, chief executive since 2012, will retire from the role in July 2021. Nigel has led a significant growth in ac...


Solutions to create trustworthy journalism in a crowded digital world

As journalists today, we are operating in a toxic digital environment where it can often be difficult to distinguish a fact from a lie. The media environment,...


Championing burgeoning talent in a year we will never forget

Announcing the Thomson Foundation Young Journalist Award finalists #TFYoungJournalist If we don't come, hunger kills us, says a Venezuelan merchant as h...


The backbone of professional and independent journalism

The media situation in the Western Balkans is deteriorating as a result of repeated attacks on media freedom and systematic undermining of the profession. The c...


Breaking news: Award shortlist reminds us why journalism matters

On World News Day, we reveal the 12 shortlisted entrants for the #TFYoungJournalist Award, highlighting just why #JournalismMatters. From Brazil's record y...


Tackling underrepresentation of women in media

Trying something new can be a daunting experience, especially when nobody has done it before. The residents of Mardan district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) prov...


Through the lens: Chronicling daily life and the challenges of Covid-19 in Syria

In his beloved city of Damascus, Syrian photojournalist, Hasan Belal, captures daily domestic scenes, confronts the challenges wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic ...


Bettina Peters (1963-2020)

There has seldom been a greater force of nature than Bettina Peters in the world of international media development. A steely mind and no-nonsense cheerfulness...


Empowering women in Pakistan's rural communities

Progress in bringing womens voices into media has been slow and has been further reduced by local traditional structures that often favour men. Pakistani enumer...


Patsy Robertson: a tribute

The passing of Patsy Robertson at 86 has deprived the Thomson Foundation of a loyal supporter and devoted advocate in the Commonwealth. Patsy resigned as a lon...


Photojournalists: The key to getting published and staying safe

Thomson Foundation trainer and award winning photojournalist Glenn Edwards shares his experience of covering events for national and international publications ...


Uncovering stories with a human dimension

Can journalism build a better world? Thomson Foundation has the privilege of training and working with journalists around the globe who are at the forefront of ...


Taking shots: preserving the pivotal moments of protests

Photojournalists remain crucial to our understanding of world events, providing us with front-row views that would otherwise be inaccessible. Of the most univer...


Competition: Young Journalist Award 2020 is open

One thing has been constant; since its inception in 2013, our Young Journalist Award has been cheering new arrivals in the media industry, introducing some of t...


Capturing change: strategies for safely covering protests

A massive wave of solidarity protests against racial injustice have been staged across the United States and worldwide following a series of killings in the US,...


Covid-19 training in Sudan gets smart on WhatsApp

An innovative online learning course to support the reporting of Covid-19 in Sudan has reached nearly 2000 people across all sectors of media. The course, desi...


Photojournalism: the ethical challenges to covering Covid-19

This article by Savannah Dodd, founder of the Photography Ethics Centre, uses the key principles introduced in her Journalism Now e-learning course The Photogra...


Talent pool gives advice on navigating the pandemic

Weve pooled advice from our international alumni to help journalists navigate their way through the Covid-19 pandemic. From what went wrong in the medias early...


Rwandan journalist s study route to international publication.

Rwandan journalist Christophe Hitayezu first met the editorial team from The Guardian newspaper in London as part of a study tour in a programme to support medi...


Sudan: Support for journalists in the global fight against Covid-19

A unique training course tailored specifically for Sudanese journalists has been devised to help them navigate the challenges of reporting the Covid-19 pandemic...


MoJo Challenge: When a smartphone wins in Covid-19 coverage

Lebanese-based Nisrine Ajab has won the Thomson Foundation mobile journalism challenge and five others have been commended. Nisrine, who is from Beirut, along...


A class of its own: is the e-Workshop here to stay?

The coronavirus pandemic has brought a temporary halt to face-to-face training programmes during lockdown - but prompted experiments with different types of vir...


Supporting Greater Media Independence in the Western Balkans

The Western Balkans region remains beset by political instability, corruption and a chronic lack of transparency. The national media are often captured by veste...


A coronavirus photo essay from Bologna, Italy

Award-winning documentary photographer and Thomson Foundation alumnus Marco Panzetti, achieved international recognition for his coverage of the global refugee ...


The challenges of covering coronavirus: how we can help

Journalists across the globe face unprecedented challenges to report the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak accurately and safely. The fast-moving story is presen...


Thomson Foundation's summer course - the alumni shaping media

Hundreds of frontline journalists have passed through the Thomson Foundation's prestigious summer course which aims to sharpen reporting skills and teach th...


Thomson Foundation summer course 2020: dates and details

Thomson Foundation has announced the dates for its mobile multimedia journalism programme 2020. August 10 to September 11, 2020 In this intensive five-week ...


Our Tech Challenge Winner: A Royal Visit And Much More

Patrick Obumselu, the winner of Thomson Foundations 2019 Commonwealth Digital Challenge, has been in London meeting mentors and receiving advice on progressing ...


Highlighting violence against South African women

At just 26, Robin-Lee Francke is no stranger to violence against women, having been pistol-whipped, beaten and shot at in the course of her work as a crime repo...


Working against the odds in Syria

When Waad Al Kateab began filming in an Aleppo hospital being destroyed by government forces, little could she imagine that her work would one day be nominated ...


Reporting from the heart of Iraq s deadly protests

Pesha Magid became the trusted voice from Baghdad for many of the world's broadcasters and newspapers after an outbreak of anti-government protests in 2019....


OPEN Media Hub: the story so far

A landmark project to support independent media in 17 countries bordering the European Union (EU) has been extended, as journalists tackle increasing threats to...