Here are some principles that form the foundation of our work at Trusting News — some basics we return to routinely, to ground ourselves in what we’re trying to accomplish.

As you look them over, we invite you to reflect on the relationship you hope to have with the people you aim to serve and think about what you could do to strengthen it.

1. Understand what gets in the way of trust

If we have one piece of advice for every newsroom, it’s this: Spend time really exploring perceptions of your work.

  1. Invite questions and feedback on social media in an AMA-style post (either live video or text)…

Most journalists have an avalanche of feedback coming at them. Emails, phone calls, social media messages, online comments … it’s overwhelming. If you’re thinking there’s no way to thoughtfully respond to all of it, you’re probably right.

And yet you know being responsive to your audience and defending your work are important, right?

It’s been more than a decade since I dove headfirst into the world of engagement, and I definitely see trust-building as a subset of that work. At its core, engagement is about making sure journalism is focused on the people it aims to serve.

I love how…


We are diving deep into the number on the left, thanks to the newsrooms listed below.

I wonder so many things about how people who lean right perceive journalism.

Do you see concerns and issues from your own life reflected in the news?

What do you think journalists/news organizations get wrong about conservatives?

What is most important to you when deciding whether a news outlet is trustworthy?

Those are some of the questions we’re sending local journalists into their communities to ask. They will use a survey and interview guide we created with our research partners at the Center for Media Engagement. …


We know there’s a partisan divide related to trust in news: people who lean right are much less likely to trust what journalists produce. You probably don’t need polling data to tell you that. A spin through comment sections and reporter inboxes can provide plenty of evidence.

Yet in service of democracy, a shared set of facts and healthy conversations (plus our financial sustainability), isn’t it vital that journalists be seen as credible storytellers, documenters and truth tellers across our polarized communities?

As we first told you a couple of months ago, the Trusting News team is committed to learning…


Only four in 10 Americans say they have a “great deal” or “fair amount” of trust in the news media. That’s according to Gallup, where they’ve been asking that question since 1972. Forty percent is bad, but it’s actually higher than it was in 2016, when the number was 32 percent.

You know what’s not better? The way those numbers shake out along political lines. There is a record 63-percentage-point gap in trust between Democrats and Republicans.

Only 10 percent of Republicans report generally trusting what they see in the news. Here’s Gallup’s breakdown over time.

Gallup 2020

Other data paint a…


The negative perceptions of journalism reflected in a new Pew Research Center report out this week can be frustrating to read about. Many journalists consider their work to be a public service and resent when it’s seen as irresponsible or unethical.

But remember that the attitudes reflected in the research are appropriate for some news media. Just as you are likely frustrated by some things done in the name of journalism, so is the public. Not everyone corrects errors, shows care for their sources, clearly labels opinion content and explains where their funding comes from. Right?

At Trusting News, our…


This is part of a series about earning trust during unusual times. It covers journalistic purpose, credibility, funding and engagement.

Let’s talk about what you know about how journalism is funded versus what the general public knows.

You’ve probably spent considerable time thinking about the tension between journalism’s public service mission and its need to bring in revenue (as a business protected by the Constitution). But a significant portion of your audience probably doesn’t understand — and has never even really dwelled on — how you make money.

Without the transactional nature of other industries (we give you a product…


Is it possible to overstate how much Americans need journalism right now?

We could have said that was true before the pandemic, of course. Just a month or two ago, our collective focus was on helping the country navigate an especially divisive, complicated election season. The pace and fervor with which journalists were working pre-pandemic seemed like it had grown steadily more intense since 2015.

That election hasn’t gone away. And at some point soon, we’ll need journalists to explain what the rest of the year will look like politically. If there were ever a time to be innovative with…


This is part of a series about earning trust during unusual times. It covers journalistic purpose, credibility, funding and engagement.

How can journalism be a catalyst for and host of community conversation? How can that conversation — happening entirely online these days — be a constructive, not destructive force? How do journalists know what their communities need from them — and what they really think of them?

While answering those questions looks different depending on the newsroom, doing so is as important now as it’s ever been. There are clear benefits to both journalists and news consumers. …


If your news organization is providing something you know your audience wants, you should make sure they know that. Seems simple enough, right? If you want credit for providing a value or service, your audience first needs to be aware of it.

But some newsrooms really struggle to articulate a compelling message about what they offer. At Trusting News, we help journalists tell the story of their values, mission, ethics and processes in ways that highlight their credibility and build trust. We help them articulate their values and priorities.

If you’re working with the Solutions Journalism Network or otherwise reporting…

Joy Mayer

Director of Trusting News. It’s up to journalists to demonstrate credibility and *earn* trust. Subscribe here: http://trustingnews.org/newsletter/

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