As journalism accumulates more and more voices, though—and as the din of those voices becomes louder and more cacophonous—we increasingly need narrative agents that rise above simple subjectivity as much as they do simple objectivity, agents that transcend the authorship of the individual: agents to sort fact from fiction, the quality information from the dreck, the news that forms the basis of democratic action from the news that forms the basis of the everything-else. We need, in other words, the collective authority of the institution. If news organizations can reclaim institutionalism, they’ll be taking a small but significant step toward reclaiming their narrative authority. And our trust along with it.
For a list of suggestions for further reading, click here. For Justin Peters’s companion piece on authority and credibility in online communications, click here. For an overview of the Press Forward series and links to older content, click here.