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Bond of trust

The bond of trust is a self-representation strategy used by writers and journalists to suggest to the reader an interpretive paradigm.

The bond of trust in fictional writing

If you are writing fictional stories, chances are that you are building a fictional world which is based on its own rules. To bring the reader on your side, you have to show the rules of your world and to create a bond of trust upon them. You can surprise your reader with unexpected events, but you can’t introduce anything that is inconsistent with your fictional world.

On the other side, the reader will follow you with a voluntary – and a temporary – suspension of disbelief. While reading, your story, the reader will try to follow and believe you, but be careful: this suspension of disbelief is a very fragile state. Every time the reader spots something that is inconsistent with the rules of the world you built, this bond dissolves itself a little bit.

So, consistency is the very basis of the bond of trust. You create the rules, you have to follow them.

If you are interested in the semiotics behind the bond of trust between a fictional writer and a reader, you should follow Umberto Eco in his essay Six Walks in the Fictional Woods.

The bond of trust in journalism

In journalism, the bond of trust is based on transparency and trustworthiness. To create a bond of trust with their readers, journalists and newspapers have to follow an editorial code and respect their readers’ need for clarity and coherence.

As so much in the world of news and information changes, the fundamental bond of trust between journalists and the communities they serve is one of the few things that doesn’t. In fact, its importance has grown.

Craig Silverman on the American Press Institute

With a growing number of sources of information and news, sticking upon a bond of trust is more relevant than ever. It’s not a just a case that in the last two decades many newspapers and news media companies have shared with their audience their editorial codes, to reinforce this bond.

In February 2002, The Guardian was the first English newspaper to publish such a document, and you can read its latest version here.