Corporate news

The Globe and Mail to Use “Trust Indicators” to Strengthen Transparency, Help Readers Identify Trustworthy News Sources

Google, Facebook, Bing and Twitter will use indicators to highlight credible journalism

Nov. 16, 2017

At a time when the public trust in news is declining in much of the world, the news industry is launching a new set of transparency standards that help people easily assess the quality and reliability of journalism.

The Globe and Mail is the only Canadian partner to join leading media companies representing dozens of news sites, including The Washington Post and The Economist, who have begun displaying Trust Indicators on their online stories. These indicators provide in-depth information, including clarity on the organizations’ ethics and other standards, the journalists’ backgrounds, and how they do their work. Created by leaders from more than 75 news organizations as part of the nonpartisan Trust Project, the Trust Indicators also show what type of information people are reading – news, opinion, analysis or advertising.

“Trust is vital in news media and it’s the foundation on which we build our business,” said David Walmsley, Editor-in-Chief of The Globe and Mail and a Trust Project co-founder. “While Canadians continue to rank The Globe highly when it comes to trust, any erosion of trust is something that affects all media, and more important, democracy.”

Led by journalist Sally Lehrman at Santa Clara University’s Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, the Trust Project is an international consortium of news organizations. Its work is essential at a time when only one third of Americans polled by Gallup say they have a great deal or fair amount of trust in media. In Canada, similar problems are emerging. The 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer found a consistent decline in the public’s trust in traditional media in the last five years.

While some outlets already disclose information included in the Trust Indicators, the new system standardizes this information across the industry, making it easier for both the public and news distribution platforms to find it.

How it works

Each indicator is signaled in the article or site code, providing the first standardized technical language for platforms to learn more from news sites about the quality and expertise behind journalists’ work. At the same time that news sites are bolstering their transparency through Trust Indicators, digital platforms aim to incorporate them into the way they display news stories. Google, Facebook, Bing and Twitter have all agreed to use the indicators and are investigating and piloting ideas about how to best to use them to surface and display quality journalism.

The Trust Indicators are integrated into the latest Version 3.3 release with new language to capture news organization publishing principles and news content types, among other concepts. Additional vocabulary will be proposed in the ongoing collaboration.

A growing number of news outlets are expected to display the indicators over the next six months. A second phase of news partners is beginning work. In addition, the Trust Project worked with the Institute for Nonprofit News to develop a WordPress plugin that enables qualified publishers to incorporate the Trust Indicators.

The project is funded by the Craig Newmark Philanthropic Fund, Google, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Democracy Fund and the Markkula Foundation.