Building Reframe

By/
Aubrey Nagle

A little bit about the work I do …

 

          Two years ago Reframe was less an initiative and more a series of questions: What would trust in news look like if journalists used more humanizing language in their reporting? What needs to change in newsrooms to make that happen? What can we create that would catalyze that change?

          I spent the first year building tools and resources to answer those questions, working with journalists and thought leaders in the industry to sketch out what they could and should look like, then testing them out in small ways. That included a flagship workshop on language and framing in news, a protocol for source tracking that prioritizes reporter accountability, community standards panels to connect newsrooms with their audiences, and a browser extension that brings style guidance directly into the writing process.

          Just as Reframe’s mission and scope solidified, the pandemic threw us for a loop and we had to rethink how we would pilot these tools with newsrooms who were struggling to survive in a new normal, as all of us were. That meant reimagining our partnerships, bringing in-person work online, and meeting needs we hadn’t seen previously. For instance, in 2020 I created two guides to language and framing of breaking news topics, coronavirus and elections, a format we’re now working into our long-term strategy for offering journalists guidance. 

          The past year has seen us iterate on the resources and services we offer, learning from our successes and mistakes and continuing to try new things. An important part of this process is knowing when to shift focus; initially all Reframe roads led to the development of our text analysis tool, so to speak. The tool flags words within the writing environment and allows reporters and editors to reconsider word choices for more authentic, humanizing options. We endeavored to gain feedback from community members and audiences through surveys and listening sessions that would inform the content delivered through the tool. The tool’s development continues, but it’s no longer the beginning and end of our community feedback loop. 

          Instead, we’ll introduce a new project this year, Resound, to amplify community feedback about media effects to meet that need. Our goal is to help the stories of those impacted by the media journalists create echo (or resound) throughout the news ecosystem. We’ve learned that personal stories of impact are incredibly valuable for journalists to hear and thus an effective tool for behavior change. What it will look like is still up in the air — as we say in Resolve land, we’re still building the plane while we fly it. But that’s par for the course with Reframe. We’re all about experimentation, finding what works, and turning away from work that doesn’t serve our mission.