Trust in News – major new research project at the Reuters Institute supported by the Facebook Journalism Project

A new £3.3m ($4m) grant will fund a three-year project to look at trust in news and identify actionable, evidence-based recommendations
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Journalists go over story budgets on the newsroom floor during the grand opening of the Washington Post newsroom in Washington January 28, 2016. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

28th April 2020

What kinds of digital news do people trust, why do they trust it, and what can publishers and platforms do to help people make decisions about what news to trust online? These are the questions driving our new Trust in News Project, funded by a grant from the Facebook Journalism Project to the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford.

As the World Association of News Media has noted, “trust is the new currency for success”. Over the next three years, this independent research project will help us better understand the drivers of trust in different contexts and for different audiences, and identify actionable, evidence-based recommendations for publishers, platforms, and others working on issues around trust and news.

In line with the Reuters Institute’s mission of exploring the future of journalism worldwide, the Trust in News Project will research these questions across Brazil, India, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In combination, these countries account for more than one billion internet users and represent a wide range of different media systems and contexts.

The project will involve different forms of research, including both qualitative and quantitative methods and ongoing engagement with professional journalists, publishers, and other relevant stakeholders by offering two fellowships for journalists interested in working on trust to join us in Oxford, and series of workshops with industry stakeholders, and collaborations with other relevant parties.

The Facebook Journalism Project has provided a £3.3m donation ($4m) to fund the Trust in News Project over the next three years. The research grant was agreed in early 2020. The project team, led by our Director Professor Rasmus Kleis Nielsen and our Senior Research Fellow and research team leader Dr Richard Fletcher, will begin work in the summer of 2020.

Responding to the announcement, Campbell Brown, Head of Global News Partnerships at Facebook, said: “People should have access to trustworthy news and we’re committed to investing in this by supporting independent research to help learn more. We’re excited to partner with the Reuters Institute on the Trust in News Project so publishers and people across industries can better understand what news people trust online. We hope to have more to share once research is underway.” 

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, Director of the Reuters Institute and Professor of Political Communication at the University of Oxford, said: "Many publishers and platforms face a profound crisis of confidence, and recognise that the long-term viability of both their mission and their business in part rests on whether people will trust them. The Trust in News Project is a unique new effort to understand the drivers of trust around news –a finding that I suspect won’t always make for comfortable reading– and help identify actionable, evidence-based recommendations for how to demonstrate trustworthiness and build trust with different communities in different contexts.” 

Note: The Thomson Reuters Foundation is the core funder of the Reuters Institute, based in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Oxford. The Institute was launched in November 2006 and developed from the Reuters Fellowship Programme, established at Oxford more than 35 years ago. The Institute, an international research centre in the comparative study of journalism, is committed to exploring the future of journalism worldwide through debate, engagement, and research.