As we learn about the ways people use the news, what features might invite their trust and loyalty?

In a two-day design sprint in New York co-led by the Trust Project and the Society for News Design, 32 senior strategists, designers, and developers from news companies across North America and Europe addressed this question. They created prototype tools to surface the Trust Project indicators of quality, a set of fundamental journalistic principles that align with today’s news users wants and needs. For example: Does the news site have ethics and corrections policies? What is the journalist’s track record? Can I dispute her claims? How diverse are the news sources?

Separately, editors, designers and developers at the Italian dailies La Stampa and La Repubblica contributed their own prototype based on Trust Project discussions in Europe last fall.

The New York event built upon news user interviews conducted by Trust Project researcher Christine Kurjan, who probed what people think, feel and actually do when it comes to today’s digital news. She traveled to New York, Detroit and Arizona to speak with highly engaged, interested and occasional news users across the demographic fault lines of race, class, gender, generation and geography. She even spoke with the disengaged and antagonized, in order to understand their views. Umbreen Bhatti and Aela Callan conducted additional Trust Project interviews in the U.S. and Europe.

Internet entrepreneur Craig Newmark kicked off the event by urging the journalists to consider the importance of a trustworthy press as the “immune system of democracy…. Most reporters won’t make stuff up, or write deceptively, but how can a reader tell which are trustworthy?” he asked. Kyle Ellis, SND director of strategic programs, Laura Cochran, user experience lead at Conde Nast, and Sally Lehrman, Trust Project director, then led diverse teams through the design thinking process. Partway through their efforts, some groups showed their ideas to the news users interviewed, gaining valuable feedback.

Following the event, Lehrman visited several news organizations and journalism schools to show the designs and get more reactions. Some participants plan to try elements of the designs on their own. For example, CBC News plans to promote its author pages and link more prominently to its journalistic standards and practices from each article. The Project also aims to move forward with more rigorous experiments.

Trust Project Prototypes Slideshow 

Click on the slide show below to review the nine prototypes and read the creators’ presentations.

Our special thanks to the Society of News Design and especially Kyle Ellis, SND director of strategic programs; Tyson Evans, editor for newsroom strategy at the New York Times; and volunteers Laura Cochran, user experience lead, Conde Nast, and Greicy Mella, senior art director, National Enquirer, for collaborating with us on this event. Our gratitude also extends to our site host, the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and Marie Gilot, director of CUNY J+, and Trust Project funders,, Google News, and SNDExp funders, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.