Designing for trust: The ideas powering a new approach to news experiences

How might we help the people who consume our journalism gain more trust in the news?

That’s the fundamental question teams of designers, developers, educators, editors and strategists are spending the weekend thinking about at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism in New York City at the Society’s first SNDExp (Experience) event.

“Exp” is an evolving series of events hosted by the Society For News Design that leverage our international community of visual journalists to help non-profits, under-resourced media outlets, open-source projects, and academic institutions go an inch-wide and a mile deep on a particular problem or product. No two events will be the same.

The work taking place this weekend builds on audience interviews, research, and meetings previously conducted by the Trust Project to identify user needs and the core elements that underpin trustworthy news. With that, the Society for News Design helped assemble cross-functional teams and designed a two-day design sprint to take primary research and bring it to life via usable and provocative prototypes.

“We had done a lot of thinking about trust and ethics in digital journalism, but we needed to start producing,” said Sally Lehrman, director of the Trust Project. “We needed to do something that would really address our audience needs, and I knew SND could help us do that.”

After opening remarks from Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, facilitators Laura Cochran, Kyle Ellis, Tyson Evans, and Lehrman led teams through a series of targeted brainstorming exercises that would help generate prototypes that directly address a human need. These needs were determined via the primary research conducted by the Trust Project.

By the end of the first day, teams pitched the following ideas:

Team Hell´s Kitchen

Tom Harrigan, Alley Interactive; Daniel Newman, NPR; Martin Reynolds, Maynard Institute; Jane Elizabeth, API

Name of project: InTrust

“Our project is a reflection of the belief that the way we’ve been doing journalism hasn’t worked for many people we have purported to serve. Through our remodeling kit, we proposing reshaping news organization to not see themselves merely as peddlers of news, but as partners. This partnership means news organizations commit to serving as facilitators, instigators and conveners on behalf of our community.They must commit to being inclusive in all aspects of the mission and to be trustworthy in engaging with the community face-to-face and in the digital space. This is done through a remodeling of the organization using the Fault Lines framework as a guiding principal to create inclusive coverage, collaboration and interaction strategies that put the news organization and the community shoulder-to-shoulder. The organization also commits to using our newly developed digital tools that enable people to engage, source and contextualize the stories they see so they feel more confident in the reporting and in the journalists who created it.”

Team Lower East Side

Marcus Moretti, MIC; Jason Chiu, The Globe and Mail; Joy Mayer, Mayer Media Strategies; Ernie Mourelo, Hearst Television

Name of project: Trustify

“Trustify gives you only news that meet our standards, and yours. Tell us what you trust and we’ll create your feed.”

Team Times Square

Aditi Bhandari, Knight Lab; Jim Sergent, USA Today; Jeff Jarvis, CUNY

“We are updating the footnote, enabling journalists to show their work by linking — with icons and previews — to source bios, source documents, data, interviews, etc.”

Team Upper West Side

Greg MacGregor, The Globe and Mail; Jessica Yu, The Wall Street Journal; Spencer Walsh, CBC News; Gloria Medina, independent journalist

“We created tools that surface the journalistic process and broaden the view of the story. With this, we try to fulfill Wendy’s concerns about trust and have a more active sharing with the community.”

The created widgets that will show the transparency with what the story was reported. The content will be focus on local news with information related to the community needs. The reader will be able to see the reporter’s bio and other stories of the reporter. Within the story we designed widgets to give the reader the option of read the list of sources that were used to write the story, to give feedback and take action if they believe it has to be done. Also, the reader will give a vote up and down if they like the story. At the end, there will be a link to ethics policy.

Team West Village

Justin Myer, Associated Press; Derrick Schultz, The New York Times; Tim Grieve, McClatchy; Marie Gilot, CUNY

“Kalah is a story framework that explores the multiple perspectives of a story. Adding to the traditional reporter’s story, it uses multimedia to allow each source to tell their story, unedited. This system lets readers explore sources in a more empathetic way, allow for multiple entry points to a story. It builds trust by acknowledging that every story has multiple views, and readers are smart enough to engage with each in a meaningful way.

Kale’s current iteration is built in the form of a Snapchat story. Swappable screens give you an overview of the multiple viewpoints, each with an ability to drill down further into the individual perspective. A synthesized version—more like the traditional “final” news story—ends the story, with fact-checking and a reporter’s summation.”

Team SoHo

Jessica Gilbert, McClatchy; Sara Quinn, SND/Kansas State; Mark Payton, Haymarket Media; Simon Galperin, CUNY

“Creating a worth meter on every article to let the reader see whether other readers thought the read was worthwhile. We ask that users to judge the worth of the article after reading it so that their peers can make better decisions about what’s worth reading. We seek additional judgements from them and mark each brand’s overall worthiness and the worthiness of the topic areas they cover.”

Team Chelsea

Youyou Zhou, AP; Sam Kirkland, BuzzFeed; Krishna Bharat, consultant; Peter Fray, Tow-Knight fellow

“We’re prototyping an operational trust protocol at an article and organizational level to promote transparency. With one tap, the user can access a page of information (list of trust indicators) about the process behind the story and the policies of the news provider.”

Check back later this week to see a full recap, including demos and presentations, of what each team created.

Special thanks to the partners and volunteers who made this event possible:

    Rita Laique, Graduate Student, Markkula Center for Applied Ethics
    Laura Cochran, User Experience Lead, Condé Nast
    Marie Gilot, CUNY Graduate School of Journalism

And we’d be remiss if we didn’t extend our hearty thanks to the funders who supported this effort:

    The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
    CUNY Graduate School of Journalism
    Google News
    Craig Newmark


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