To quote the journalism support organization, Trusting News, “Journalists, we have to stop assuming people understand the mission, ethics and processes behind our work. We can’t let ourselves get lumped in with perceptions of “the media.” Instead, we need to actively work to earn trust from our communities by telling them why we’re worthy of their time, trust and support.”
It’s been well-documented that Americans’ trust in news media has been on the decline, reaching historically low levels in recent times. Various factors contribute to this diminishing faith, including perceptions of bias, inaccuracies and sensationalism, and the proliferation of misinformation on digital platforms. This environment of skepticism has made it increasingly challenging for the public to distinguish between legitimate journalism and deceptive content, further exacerbating the divide in how information is consumed and trusted. The importance of trust in journalism cannot be understated, especially in an era rife with misinformation and disinformation. It’s important to remember, too, that skepticism is often warranted. People shouldn’t automatically trust what they read, hear or see. It’s up to journalists to help the public navigate this chaotic, overwhelming news landscape.
Trustworthy journalism provides the foundation for an informed citizenry, which is essential for a functioning democracy. When journalists prioritize accuracy, fairness, transparency and accountability in their work, they not only bolster their own credibility but also equip the public with reliable information to make informed decisions. In a landscape where falsehoods spread like wildfire, it is imperative for journalists to actively work to earn trust — and not assume that just doing the job of reporting is enough. Trust is hard won and easily lost.
Guides & Training
Trusting News is the industry leader for best practices, research and training for journalists. The organization is focused on learning how people decide what news to trust and turning that knowledge into actionable strategies for journalists. They stand in the trust gap, helping audiences and newsrooms understand each other. Their “Trust Kits” provide self-service training, tips and best practices on topics that combine to create trust in a media organization and its work. Topics include: ethics and fairness; engagement; how news works; newsroom culture and coverage areas, such as opinion content, crime coverage and elections. This support organization provides training and coaching support through writing, small group teaching, one-on-one coaching, webinars and more. Check out their Start Earning Trust page to find options best aligned with your needs.
These organizations play crucial roles in upholding the standards of journalism and ensuring that trust remains at the core of the profession.
The Poynter Institute is an international leader in journalism education. It offers resources, training and fact-checking services to support ethical and responsible journalism. They publish articles regularly with guidance on ethics and trust, as well as provide ethics support.
The Trust Project is a global collaboration between news organizations that develops transparency standards that help the public easily assess the quality and credibility of journalism. They’ve developed “8 Trust Indicators” to help the public and newsrooms establish trustworthiness and offer a variety of resources and a network to join.
The Journalism Trust Initiative, operated by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), is developing and implementing indicators for trustworthiness of journalism to promote and reward compliance with professional norms and ethics.
American Press Institute, which partners with Trusting News, provides guidance on best practices, conducts research and offers training programs to help journalists produce better and more trustworthy content.
News Literacy Project is an educational nonprofit focused on teaching students and the public how to discern fact from fiction in the digital age.
FactCheck.org is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics by monitoring the factual accuracy of statements made by politicians.
The Center for Media Engagement and Trusting News
“Building trust: What works for news organizations” by Gina M. Masullo, Alex Curry and Kelsey N. Whipple
The Center for Media Engagement, Trusting News and WCPO 9
“Gaining trust in TV news”
“Re-Engaging the Right Interview Guide”
“New research shows how journalists can connect with conservatives and right-leaning audiences”
Center for Media Engagement, Trusting News and 27 local newsrooms
“How local newsrooms can better connect with conservative and right-leaning audiences”
American Press Institute
“How Customer Service Can Build Trust and Engagement with Audiences” by Anita Li
American Press Institute
“A New Way of Looking at Trust in Media: Do Americans Share Journalism’s Core Values?” by Media Insight Project