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The Trust in News Project looks at what digital news sources people trust, why people invest their trust in them, and what publishers and platforms can do to help people make decisions about what news to trust online. The project is funded with a grant from the Facebook Journalism Project. 


First report

Published on 3 December 2020.

Our first report looks at what we think we know about trust in news and what we would like to know. We find that there is no single trust in news problem, and so that efforts to improve trust need to be specific in their aims. Public understanding of how journalism works is low, and some levels of distrust are rooted in coverage that has ignored or stigmatised segments of the public. The report surveys journalists in Brazil, India, the United Kingdom, and the United States to gauge their understanding of what is eroding trust in news and what could be done to regain and retain it.

Second report

Published on 22 April 2021.

Our second report is based on conversations with 132 individuals in Brazil, India, the UK and the US, and summarises the insights we took away from them. These discussions raise some uncomfortable questions about the nature of trust in contemporary digital media environments. In short, we find that trust often revolves around ill-defined impressions of brand identities and is rarely rooted in details concerning news organisations’ reporting practices or editorial standards – qualities that journalists often emphasise about their work.

Third report

Published on 9 September 2021.

Our third report is based on original survey data from nationally representative samples in Brazil, India, the UK and the US. We develop a more detailed understanding of how different segments of the public hold varying degrees of trust in news. We find that the least trusting towards news tend to be older, less educated, less interested in politics, and less connected to urban centres. The least trusting also pay less attention to and are more indifferent towards specific characteristics about how journalism is practised. Gaps in trust in news align with  deficits in social and interpersonal trust as well as dissatisfaction with democracy.

About the project

The project looks at trust in digital news in Brazil, India, the United Kingdom, and the United States, markets which account for more than one billion internet users and a wide range of media systems and contexts.

It involves different forms of research, including both qualitative and quantitative methods and ongoing engagement with professional journalists, publishers, and other relevant stakeholders. It also offers 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 project aims to help us to understand what drives trust for different news audiences in different contexts, and to identify evidence-based recommendations for publishers, platforms, and others working on issues around trust and news.

The research team
  • Dr Benjamin Toff leads the Trust in News Project and oversees the research of the postdoctoral research fellows working on the project. He is a Senior Research Fellow at the Reuters Institute. He received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a bachelor’s degree in Social Studies from Harvard University. He was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Reuters Institute from 2016-2017. Prior to his academic career, Dr Toff worked as a professional journalist, mostly as a researcher at the New York Times from 2005-2011. He retains a partial faculty appointment at the Hubbard School of Journalism & Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota.
  • Dr Camila Mont'Alverne is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow who works on the Trust in News Project. She holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the Federal University of Paraná, Brazil. Her main research interests are in the area of Political Communication, focusing on Political Journalism, Media & Elections, and Internet & Politics. She has previously worked as a Political Science Researcher at the Sivis Institute, Brazil.
  • Dr Amy Ross Arguedas is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow who works on the Trust in News Project. She obtained her M.A. and Ph.D. in the Department of Communication Studies at Northwestern University in 2020. Before pursuing her doctorate, Amy worked as a journalist for five years at the Costa Rican newspaper La Nación.
  • Sumitra Badrinathan is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow who works on the Trust in News Project. She is from Mumbai, India and is currently a PhD student in Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research interests include studying misinformation, media effects and political behaviour in India using experimental and survey methods.
  • Dr Richard Fletcher is a Senior Research Fellow and leads the research team at the Reuters Institute. He is a principal investigator of the Trust in News Project. He is primarily interested in global trends in digital news consumption, comparative media research, the use of social media by journalists and news organizations, and more broadly, the relationship between technology and journalism.
  • Professor Rasmus Nielsen is the Director of the Reuters Institute Professor of Political Communication at the University of Oxford. He is a principal investigator of the Trust in News Project. He was previously Director of Research at the Reuters Institute. His work focuses on changes in the news media, on political communication, and the role of digital technologies in both. He has done extensive research on journalism, American politics, and various forms of activism, and a significant amount of comparative work in Western Europe and beyond.

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 announced in early 2020.

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