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Trust Project Insights

What’s New at the Trust Project

We aim to restore the trusted role of the press in civic life.

Trust Project Insights

1) News leaders choose similar Trust Indicator priorities as the public. News innovators and managers from the U.S. and Europe voted on the Trust Project’s 37 draft indicators and tools at a Trust Summit May 20. We were hosted by Hearst Corp.

 at the top of its New York tower. Teams chose from the top nine and collaborated on first-draft definitions. They envisioned possibilities for using the indicators to build an audience community, monetize aspects of engagement, and enhance the news in other ways.

Now international cross-media teams are working on clear, concrete editorial definitions for each indicator. Their work will become a framework for an industry standard relevant for news sites large and small, digital-first and legacy.

And here's the priority list!

  • Best practices (ethics policy, diversity policy, corrections, etc.)
  • Author bios
  • Citations and references
  • Labels for news, analysis, opinion (and advertising)
  • Original reporting
  • Diverse voices
  • Actionable feedback for public and newsroom
  • Local
  • Geo-tag story location

2) The public can give life to a journalism trust system. We’re continuing with user interviews and discovering that the Trust Indicators offer value:

“Opinion is important, but if you are not distinguishing, there is a danger you may mislead.”

“If I know the journalist, I am more likely to believe what they’re writing.”

“You need input from different people with different visions so that you can assimilate and form your own opinion. “

For insights from our latest 10+ U.S. interviews, look here. Try our quick quiz and you may win a Markkula Ethics Center mug. 


3) Trustworthy journalism can help democracy thrive. A hearty thank you to supporter Craig Newmark, who donated an additional $100,000 to the Trust Project this spring through his craigconnects Trustworthy Journalism Initiative. Newmark explained, “A trustworthy press is the immune system of democracy.” We agree.

Next up: The Trust Hack. Led by Paul Egglestone, who heads up the University of Central Lancashire’s Media Innovation Studio, participants will work with our Trust Indicators to build CMS plug-ins. The goal: Back up the indicators with evidence and simplify the newsroom workflow needed to demonstrate content as trustworthy -- and easily surface it on distribution platforms.

We’ve been out and about talking to people about the Trust Project and getting their suggestions at Newsgeist Europe, the JSK Reunion Alumni Fest, the Rita Allen Foundation Scholars Program 40th Anniversary Plenary, and in one-to-one meetings. We appreciate your involvement and feedback!

Sally Lehrman
Trust Project and Journalism Program Director, Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

The Trust Project develops tools and technologies to signal trustworthy news to audiences and news distribution systems. We are a project of the Markkula Ethics Center’s Executive Roundtable for Digital Journalism Ethics.

In appreciation to our funders:, Google, and the Markkula Family Foundation.

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