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Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

Backstory: Trust Indicators Journey

The Trust Project work begins with the user. Listening to the people who love, hate or ignore the news allows us to break through old ways of thinking and truly address user needs. Here’s what we’ve been hearing:


"How did this story get built? Who did it come from? Who are your readers?"
Rodale, 29

"I like transparency. With a cat video now and then."
Hossannah, 38

"I'm suspicious. I curate my own news."
Alexandria, 39


In workshops with senior news executives, we've built a list of indicators of trustworthy news based on in-depth interviews with users.

At the Trust Project Summit in New York, collaborators from 20 news organizations reviewed the Trust Indicators and selected a priority set. Dozens more senior executives worked together to build editorial definitions.

Here’s the report. Or download the PDF.

News executives collaborated to define these Trust Indicators from an editorial perspective and propose an industry standard for each.

We invite your comments on the Trust Indicators


Just click on the card showing each need or indicator to offer your ideas about:

  • The expressed user needs
  • The relative importance of the indicator
  • How best to define your favorite indicator(s) from an editorial standpoint

The menu on the right of the open card also allows you to vote your approval of the indicator or tool.

The indicators and related tools are coded by potential application: Corporate or site-wide, article-level or journalist-level.

You can also comment via email to Thanks for contributing.

Trust Project Prototypes

Open Trust Protocol

The Trust Project Badge

Trust Project System

Transparency Widgets

Crowd Trust



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Behind the Scenes: Design Sprint

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