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Oct. 9, 2018, 11:31 a.m.
LINK: thetrustproject.org  ➚   |   Posted by: Laura Hazard Owen   |   October 9, 2018

The Trust Project, which launched last November as an effort to provide more clarity around who’s behind news by labeling articles with “nutrition label” indicators like author expertise and type of story, announced Tuesday that it’s added a bunch of new publisher partners. (You’d be forgiven for forgetting exactly which one The Trust Project is. Here’s our guide to a whole lot of similarly named initiatives.)

The additional news partners more than double the number of existing news organizations implementing the Trust Indicators. In the United States and Canada, the Trust Indicators can now be seen on sites hosted by the Bay Area News Group, CBC News, Heavy.com, The Toronto Star, TEGNA, Voice of Orange County, The Walrus and the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism; and in Europe, on those of Corriere della Sera (Italy), El País (Spain), Il Sole 24 Ore. (Italy), Kathimerini (Greece), Orb Media (International), SciDev.Net (International), and SkyNews (United Kingdom). Companies in the process of showing Trust Indicators include Canadian Press, Frontline PBS (U.S.), El Mundo (Spain), Star Tribune (U.S.) and Zeit Online (Germany).

The Trust Indicators have been available since last year on sites owned by the BBC (United Kingdom), dpa news agency (Germany), The Economist (United Kingdom), FourFourTwo (United Kingdom), Globe and Mail (Canada), Hearst Television, Independent Journal Review, Mic, La Repubblica and La Stampa (Italy), Stuff (United Kingdom), Reach Plc (United Kingdom), and The Washington Post.

The Trust Project also continues to work with tech companies like Facebook, Google, and Bing, in a limited fashion (Bing, for instance, is using the indicators to identify type of work — news, opinion, or analysis — on news stories). And NewsGuard, which aims to rate the transparency and accountability of a bunch of news sites, uses the Trust Indicators when it ranks sources. The Toronto Star explained the differences that readers will see on its site:

How does this all translate into what Star readers will experience? For starters, at the bottom of every article published on thestar.com, readers will now find links to three trust-related features: a more visible “Report an Error” button, a link to the Star’s journalistic standards guide and a link to the organization’s “About Us” page.

The data about whether this kind of thing actually works to increase people’s trust in “the news” — and whether that broad trust can actually be increased at all — is somewhat sketchy and conflicting. The Trust Project has supported some research that found that “found higher evaluations of a news organization’s reputation, including its trustworthiness and reliability, when the Trust Indicators were present.” Other research, however, suggests that “community ratings” can backfire, that linking to sources doesn’t always work, and that that people don’t look at sources as much as you’d think when they’re trying to determine the credibility of something. It’s yet to be determined whether The Trust Project is an actual (slight) game-changer or just a news organization feel-good measure.

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