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Trust Indicators

For this assignment, I’ve decided to evaluate azcentral.com, and Scottsdale Independent.

AZcentral:

Journalist Info: All of the journalists seem to be well qualified as they are apart of the Arizona Republic or USA Today which are reputable sources.

Labels: AZcentral seems to have a clear purpose as they section their website by topic/category. There’s sports, politics, opinion, local, investigations, and a few more tabs to search for specific topics of news.

References: After looking through multiple stories, any sources used in the stories were clearly identified and linked with quick and direct access to them.

Local: AZcentral definitely makes use of local sources and news as they have an entire section just for local news. While they do report on nationwide news it seems really the main focus of their news is local Arizona based news.

Diverse Voices: This is where I feel as though AZcentral needs to improve. After skimming through the headlines of the local section, it seems a lot of the news was focused on politics in Arizona. Also, the two locations that were featured in headlines were Scottsdale and Chandler which tend to be higher income places in the state.

Actionable Feedback: There is no place for readers to participate and give direct feedback on the site which should definitely be featured. Even a simple comment section would be a big difference.

Methods: It seems the methods that the journalists used were all standard. Nothing seemed rushed or lacking from the stories featured there was just a lack of diversity.

Best Practices: AZcentral does appear to care about these trust factors as they have a separate page dedicated to their values and principles. It does also mention diversity and the promise to represent diverse communities so there is a chance that the more recent local news just happened to not feature as much diversity as usual.

Summary:

AZcentral seems to be a very solid source for your local news if needed. I don’t think they would be most people’s first choice and they definitely do not compete with the major news outlets like AZfamily, 12news, or FOX10. However, they do provide a wide range of news and seem to be partnered or connected to USA Today for more nationwide larger news. They have a large list of tabs to search for news, they provide a ton of stories on their homepage with images, they show the weather, an Olympic medal count, and other nice features. However, I think the overall appearance of the site is bland. While the appearance has nothing to do with substance, the lack of appeal could very well turn readers away. Immediately I was not super engaged in looking through the site when I first clicked on it and had to really start going through all of the tabs and sidebars in order to really get an understanding of the site. They do at least hit a lot of the boxes for the trust indicators. Their journalists all appear to be very well qualified and under the same employment which should mean that there is equality in the standards they look for and the work it took to be in the position these journalists are in. They do appear to have a clear purpose in providing local news to Arizona residents obviously, but they also seem to be very politics driven. I did not see much of a bias which was refreshing, but every other featured story had to do with the government or a senator or something of that nature. While this information is important, a lack of variety again will turn some readers away as some people including myself would like a bit or a break or escape from politics because it’s all we see on television and it’s a lot of what we see on social media. An area that definitely needs to be added in is a place for readers to participate. There were no comment sections featured at the end of stories and nowhere for direct engagement from locals. The other negative I would have for the site despite hitting on a lot of the trust indicators was more diversity. While all the indicators are important, I feel like diversity is too big of an indicator to not have clearly presented as need news outlets like AZcentral to represent them. Diversity is mentioned in their statement about values and principles, so I think they could get the benefit of the doubt as I’m not a regular reader of AZcentral.

Scottsdale Independent:

Journalist Info: There is a good amount of information for the journalists as there is a tab titled “Our Journalists” at the bottom of the site. What I didn’t like was that each author had a link/underline on their name but when you click on it you are not redirected anywhere.

Labels: This sites labels are pretty interesting because they have most of Arizona’s major cities all listed at the top so you can see specific stories for your community and where you live. They also do have similar tabs to AZcentral in listing news, business, education, things to do, opinions, and neighbors which was an interesting one.

References: For as many stories as I was able to view (many required a subscription), it seemed as though the sources were all clearly provided and easy to access.

Local: They definitely utilize and showcase local news and stories as previously mentioned with the various tabs of cities across the valley.

Diverse Voices: Scottsdale Independent immediately caught my eye on diversity as this was one of their top featured stories which was great to see.

Actionable Feedback: On all of their stories they have a comment section for those with an account which is already a step up to AZcentral. They also give readers the chance to submit letters through the opinions tab which is direct participation, plus the tab called “Valley voices” which are letters that have been posted to the site.

Methods: All of the methods used be the journalists seem to be in best practice as no story seemed to be biased or unethical even in the opinions section.

Best Practices: Scottsdale Independent also had their own about page which featured all of their policies and promises to practice these methods.

Summary:

Scottsdale Independent was definitely the better site of the two in my opinion. For starters, it was a more direct and grander looking site. You see the name Scottsdale Independent in very large letters with their header of the communities they represent. Ranging from Mesa, Sun City, Paradise Valley, Tempe, to my former community in Glendale, to my current in Goodyear/Litchfield Park. I think this site had a much more personal feel to Arizona and it really seemed like their mission was to represent each and every community to the best of their abilities. The other thing I immediately noticed and that stood out from AZcentral was the diversity they featured. The fourth story featured on their homepage showcased Jackie Johnson who was hired as Scottsdale’s diversity program director.

https://www.yourvalley.net/scottsdale-independent/stories/scottsdale-hires-jackie-johnson-as-diversity-program-director,286432

There really wasn’t much that I could knock about the site in the trust indicators. At first, I thought there was not as much information on the journalists as there should have been. However, after looking a little deeper they had an entire page dedicated to learning more about their writers and editors. One way to maybe improve upon this area would be to fix what appears to be the links provided on the authors’ names. When you click on a story the author has a link attached to their name; however, when you click on it, there is no redirection where it should take you to their about page. One area where Scottsdale Independent knocks AZcentral out is in the participation they give to the readers. Under every single article I was able to view there was a comment section for subscribers which is greatly important as local news should be receiving local feedback. Not only does this improve the quality of the stories themselves by taking in the readers’ feedback, but it also allows for those who are in these featured communities to talk amongst each other and understand how others feel. Perhaps they gain a new point of view or just agree with their neighbors. The best way they allow for participation is by allowing us readers to submit letters and stories directly to them. When you hover over the opinion tab there are two options: to submit something to them, or to view the “Valley Voices” which are stories from everyday people in “the valley”. This feature was so awesome to me as it adds to that personalized feel of their news/site, and it also may even provide opportunity for Arizona residents to be heard and recognized on important topics. Overall I thought the Scottsdale Independent is a news source deserving of more recognition.

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