The origins and purposes of the Trust Project were explored
Sally Lehrman, senior director of Journalism Ethics and Trust Project Director, served as a featured panelist for “Truth, Trust & Democracy: Seattle CityClub Annual Benefit,” where she spoke about the purpose and origins of the Trust Project to an audience of over 500 Seattle community leaders. The project, a consortium of top news companies, is developing transparency standards that help readers assess the quality and credibility of journalism.
Lehrman spoke alongside Jill Dougherty, former foreign affairs correspondent for CNN, and Amy S. Mitchell, director of journalism research at Pew Research Center. The panel took place Weds., June 27, 2018, at the Washington State Convention Center and reprised the same day at the Gates Foundation headquarters.
During the panel, Mitchell offered insight into a recent Pew study that found readers struggle to distinguish fact from opinion. Dougherty reflected on her career in television news, and voiced concerns about the spread of unreliable information at a global scale.
Lehrman discussed key values in trustworthy news based on audience interviews conducted in the early stages of the Trust Project. For example, she explained that people want to hear from more than business and government officials in news coverage. They want to see others like themselves in the news, and also people unlike themselves. She added, "As I talk to editors, they … are passionate about getting the facts right, correcting it when they're wrong, and providing context."
Moderator Sam Howe Verhovek, former national correspondent for the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, posed a series of provocative questions about enduring challenges related to waning public trust in news, polarization in politics, and what it means for journalism to serve the public. Community leaders across Seattle participated in a hands-on workshop with the Trust Project the following day at Seattle CityClub, described below.
Information We Can Trust: A Workshop Introducing a Toolkit for Real News
Lehrman provided an introduction to the Trust Project. Jenny Greeve, guest facilitator for Civic Design, led the workshop, with five University of Washington students and graduates of UW’s Human-Centered Design program serving as small-group facilitators. Also in attendance were representatives from Trust Project partner newsrooms and news platforms, including Matt DeLong of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Frank Mungeam of TEGNA, and Tammy Kennon of Bing News.
After reviewing examples of implemented Trust Indicators on news sites as well as snapshots of different types of news readers, participants engaged in a rousing discussion of the Trust Project and carefully considered the ways in which Trust Indicators would help them and their broader networks decode news.
Several participants said they viewed the Trust Indicators as a useful way to address their growing sense of alienation from news because, as one said, “everything is labeled as news but we can’t rely on it being true.” After expressing frustration with the lack of accountability in a digital news landscape, another participant said, “The everyday news user is disadvantaged in this context.” At the end of the workshop, one participant remarked, “Trust Indicators need to be ubiquitous and pervasive.”