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Trustworthy Documentary Seeks to Heal the Deep Divide in America With a Deep Dive Into Media Bias at Belmont University

by Rich and Laura Lynch

We saw a preview of Trustworthy at Belmont University's Johnson Center in Nashville, Tennessee on February 09, 2024. Presented by The Nashville Film Festival, Trustworthy is a documentary that chronicles a 5,300-mile journey around America to explore the loss of trust in the news while searching for common ground. The Trustworthy team spoke with journalists, experts and everyday Americans across the political spectrum about how we got to this point, how we can become better information consumers, and how we can come together to rise above the discourse and misinformation aimed at dividing communities.


Trustworthy made a non-partisan case to help heal the great political divide in America.

Stephany Zamora the Executive Producer shared a few thoughts before the screening in Nashville. Throughout Trustworthy, clips of art and everyday people were mixed in with interviews with people who work in the news such as Ali Velshi a Chief Correspondent for MSNBC. He and others talked about the attacks on journalism while expressing trepidation that news has become more about money and opinions. In-depth reporting is less common and has been replaced by round tables.

The concept that many people get their news from social media is of concern as those sources are often more interested in hits, rather than digging into the truth. Anger and sensationalism have a tendency to draw a larger audience while algorithms are set up to push the points that you want to hear rather than presenting the other side of a story. Unfortunately, even videos can be manipulated so what you see may not be what actually happened. Many viewers are overwhelmed by all this and are tuning out.

A number of people from KVOA-TV, Tucson, Arizona and other outlets proposed the idea that local news is more likely to double check facts and should be less opinionated thus an option for more accurate data. Plus, local journalists often live in the community and become familiar faces that folks are more likely to trust when it comes to the giving and receiving of news. Others suggested organizations such as Ground News and Braver Angels who strive for balanced information and finding common ground. So, there is some hope in regaining trust in journalism.

Trustworthy presented a lot of points to ponder which a panel of experts discussed after the documentary. Stephany Zamora asked some question of her guests than opened it up to the audience. The panel featured Steve Cavendish, editor of the Nashville Banner. He has also worked at the Chicago Tribune, the Washington Post and in Nashville he edited The City Paper and the Nashville Scene. Dr. Jennifer Duck, a two-time Emmy award-winning journalist who spent twenty-years producing and reporting around the world with Peter Jennings, Martha Raddatz, Anderson Cooper, Katie Couric and Oprah Winfrey. She is currently a professor at Belmont who is researching the different ways media can bridge the deep divides in polarized environments. Andrea Williams, opinion and engagement reporter for The Tennessean and curator of the Black Tennessee Voices weekly newsletter, has written for The New York Times, Sports Illustrated and New York Magazine.

A key point that we picked up from their discussion was the difference between media and journalism. Good journalism costs money as it requires research and sometimes risk to an ethical person who considers themselves accountable for getting the information right whereas social media is about consumption and has fewer cross checks. The panel suggested that concerned citizens should invest time in finding journalists, local news channels, and other outlets that are trustworthy. Once you find that source support them with subscriptions and sharing their content. The team at Trustworthy hopes that through screening events and watch parties, that their film will provide a forum for people to listen, learn, discuss and inspire action to preserve our democracy and bridge the current political divide.


The post-movie panel added much depth to the discussion.

Related Links: For more information on TRUSTWORTHY and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - Trustworthy | Nashville Film Festival | On Location with the 2023 Nashville Film Festival | Belmont University


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