Washington Post, Economist, dozens of local news sites among those in the Trust Project
Eye on Ohio has always taken seriously the trust that our readers, viewers, and listeners place in us. For that reason, we have always made our financial information publicly available, been certified by nonprofit tracker Candid (formerly Guidestar), and posted our ethics policies on our website.
When the Trust Project invited us to be part of their next cohort, we jumped at the chance to better serve our community as we knew their program is based on hard data.
The group interviewed dozens of people, from all walks of life, to ask: what makes you trust a news source? Why?
Based on the answers, they came up with eight Trust Indicators®:
They then did a randomized controlled study with 1,183 people to verify the effectiveness of those indicators.
Over a period of seven months, Eye on Ohio and other news sites from Canada, the U.S. and Europe met with the Trust Project regularly to discuss how our content can better reflect the needs of our audience. The result is the changes you have seen throughout the site. We added more information about our writers, labeled each article by type, and developed a policy on diversity, equity, and inclusion. We hope that these changes better serve you, our community, and as always if you have any questions please contact us.
Q&A with Sally Lehrman, CEO and founder of the Trust Project
- What is the goal of The Trust Project? I founded the Trust Project in 2014 as a response to a world in which social media and search engines mixed news, advertisements, propaganda and opinion together as if they were the same. As a result, people were losing trust in journalism. I want people to easily recognize journalism that has integrity behind it and to help the technology platforms that distribute news do the same. Now, more than 275 news sites are showing the 8 Trust Indicators on their pages and working together toward greater transparency and accountability. These 8 Trust Indicators, a globally accepted standard, show who and what is behind a given news site so people can make their own decisions about whether to trust it.
- How do people know who is a participant in The Trust Project? News sites that commit to the principles of social responsibility, accuracy, impartiality and inclusion make sure they have policies that support their commitments and show them to you. They complete the editorial, design and development work, pass through a compliance review, and finally they earn the Trust Mark, which is a T-logo that they place on their pages. Our news partners include large companies like the Washington Post, BBC, The Globe and Mail, Hearst Television and Tegna, syndicators like Public News Service, regionals such as the Denver Post and El Periódico de Catalunya, and also locals and digital natives.
- Why is it important now more than ever to have trusted media across the globe? The whole journalistic enterprise is founded on trust –between journalists and their sources, the communities they cover, and the people that read, listen or watch the news. And in this time of COVID19, climate change and political unrest, people absolutely need news media in which they know there is no bias in the story other than honesty, transparency and ethical content – and a commitment to serve the public interest. They need to know that a news site can be trusted to guide them through all of today’s complexity. Research by the Reuters Institute has found that globally, the public deeply appreciates and desires impartial news.
- What do you think about the growth of digital content and the challenges people face in finding real stories amidst all that content? First of all, for too long we’ve allowed the digital space to control the way we work in journalism, changing our priorities in harmful ways because of the pressures of the algorithm. We are working to flip the picture, to enhance the digital space by providing the Trust Indicators in machine-readable form, so that Facebook, Google and Bing can use them, and also right on the news pages that people see. We want to underline and support quality, reducing the influence of inflammatory headlines or dramatic narrative. We also want news sites to work with one another to promote high standards and accountability.
- Where does the Trust Project’s funding come from? We are incredibly grateful to have been funded by Craig Newmark Philanthropies, the Democracy Fund, Google, Facebook, the Knight Foundation and the Markkula Family Foundation. And, like the journalism on our partner news sites, the Trust Indicators and our policies are completely independent of funder influence.
- What do people want from the news media and journalists? People want to see a clear separation between impartial news and paid media (advertorials), analysis and opinion. They want to know who and what is behind a story they see, including who has funded that news site and who the journalist is. They want to hear from people like themselves and unlike themselves. They want local news reports by journalists who know their community, and journalists who will listen carefully to those so often left out of the conversation.
- You just announced your seventh cohort, highlighting the global growth of The Trust Project and its 8 Trust Indicators. How can more publishers and broadcasters join? News organizations committed to fair, accurate and impartial news with no agenda other than serving the public can apply to be a part of the Trust Project. Once a site is approved, they are put into a cohort and work with the other news organizations across the world to implement the 8 Trust Indicators on their sites. Every participating site goes through a rigorous review and compliance process.
8. What’s special about the group of news sites announcing the Trust Indicators on their pages this week? My dream is for people to have access to the Trust Indicators on reliable news sites around the world, sites of all shapes and sizes.