The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism is pleased to be a member of the Trust Project and support efforts to increase transparency and trust in journalism by displaying specially designed Trust Indicators on our stories. We launched the Trust Indicators on Oct. 9, 2018.
The Trust Project is a global network of news organizations that has developed transparency standards to help news readers assess the quality and credibility of journalism. The Trust Indicators are a set of enhancements to participating sites that spell out editorial practices and policies, and provide additional context. On the Center’s site, readers can find the Indicators on the page “About the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism,” and also linked from each new story.
The core set of Trust Indicators was developed by leaders from 80 news organizations and informed by extensive interviews with readers in the United States and Europe. They describe an organization’s commitment to ethics, inclusive reporting, fact-checking and correcting errors, information on journalists’ backgrounds and how they do their work. In addition, the Indicators denote the type of information that a person is reading — such as news, opinion or analysis.
The Trust Project has helped to standardize the information, structure it for the public to easily find, and make it available for search engines to read.
Every new story published on WisconsinWatch.org will feature the Trust Project logo and a button that invites the public to read the Center’s policies. In some cases, there will be an additional button that will reveal details about how and why the Centere did a report, under a button labeled “Behind the Story.”
Under the policies button, readers can review the Center’s editorial standards and practices and policies on ethics, diversity, corrections, unnamed sources and fact-checking. Readers will also find links to information about how the Center is staffed and funded and its mission statement: “To increase the quality, quantity and understanding of investigative journalism to foster an informed citizenry and strengthen democracy.”
The “Behind the Story” button will lead to more information about who reported, edited, fact-checked and copy-edited the story, as well as statements in some cases about why the Center pursued the project and how it conducted the investigation. Notices of any corrections will also be posted here.
In incorporating the Trust Indicators, the Center joins more than 120 news sites around the world that are displaying the first digital transparency standard for news that helps people easily recognize the ingredients in trustworthy journalism — much like nutritional labels. Two studies have found that the Trust Indicators help increase readers’ trust in news sites and the journalists who produce the work.
The Indicators also are embedded in the article and site code — providing the first standardized technical language offering information about participating sites. Partners in the technology sector including Google, Bing, Facebook, Nuzzel, PEN America and NewsGuard will use the Indicators to surface, display or better label journalism on their platforms.
The Trust Project was founded by award-winning journalist Sally Lehrman and is hosted by Santa Clara University’s Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. It is funded by Craig Newmark Philanthropies, Google, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Democracy Fund and the Markkula Foundation.
INN Labs, part of the Institute for Nonprofit News, worked with the Center to upgrade its site to add the new tools.
Andy Hall, the Center’s executive director, said news organizations in the Trust Project provide an important defense against online misinformation. The network’s news coverage reaches an estimated 217 million people a month.
“The public needs to be able to determine which news sources to trust as we all seek to understand critical issues in our communities, and potential solutions to problems,” Hall said. “We’re proud to be aboard.”
For more information on the Trust Project, visit TheTrustProject.org.