Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

The Trust Project

Trust project collaborators share their prototype tool for building trust in online news.

The Trust Project is an international consortium of news organizations collaborating to use transparency to build a more trustworthy and trusted press. Led by award-winning journalist Sally Lehrman, it is hosted by Santa Clara University’s Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. Search engines and social media platforms, which have become important news distributors, are participating as external partners. The Trust Project applies a user-centered design process. We gathered dozens of in-depth interviews with a diverse spectrum of public voices. Then, working with these, news executives identified and designed a system of “Trust Indicators,” or disclosures about the news outlet, author, and commitments behind a story, to make it easy for the public to identify the quality of news. Digital platforms, such as Google, Facebook and Bing, will be able to use machine-readable signals from the Trust Indicators to surface quality news to their users.

The Trust Project's initial funder was Craig Newmark, founder of craigslist, as part of the Trustworthy Journalism Initiative of Craig Newmark Philanthropies, followed by Google. The project is also funded by the Democracy Fund, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and the Markkula Foundation.

The Trust Project, hosted by the Ethics Center, offers digital standards that show what's behind the news.

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Trust Project News

    Journalism Ethics Staff

    Sally Lehrmanimage

    Senior Director

    Sally Lehrman


    Anita Varmaimage

    Program Manager, Trust Project

    Anita Varma


    Subramaniam Vincentimage

    Tech Lead

    Subramaniam Vincent


    News Leadership Council

    Some of our Participating Media and Institutions

    American Press Institute
    Bay Area Newsgroup
    Center for Investigative Reporting
    dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur
    El Universal
    Financial Times
    Maynard Institute
    The McClatchy Company
    Mother Jones
    New York Times
    La Stampa/La Repubblica
    Globe & Mail
    Vox Media
    The Washington Post
    Zeit Online