Chief Executive, Trust Project
Sally Lehrman, an award-winning journalist, founded and leads The Trust Project, an international collaboration that she began building in 2014 to strengthen public confidence in the news through accountability and transparency. The consortium, which involves about 100 news organizations, has created a set of digital standards called “Trust Indicators” that help the public and news distribution platforms easily identify reliable news sites. Lehrman provides vision and strategy, guiding the effort as it implements the news industry’s first-ever transparency standards for users to see and machines to read, also overseeing collaborative implementation and scaling among newsrooms around the world. Lehrman was named one of MediaShift’s Top 20 Digital Innovators in 2018 for this work.
Major news distribution platforms including Google, Facebook and Bing are external partners to the effort and use the Trust Indicators in various ways, such as in search results, news feeds and display on user screens.
Lehrman is an award-winning reporter on medicine, biotechnology and science policy. Her honors include a Peabody Award, Peabody/Robert Wood Johnson Award for Excellence in Health and Medical Programming, and Columbia/Du Pont Silver Baton (The DNA Files); the SPJ Wells Key (the Society of Professional Journalists’ highest honor); various other reporting and writing awards; and the John S. Knight Fellowship at Stanford University. Byline credits include Scientific American, Nature, Health, TheAtlantic.com, Natural Medicine, The Boston Globe, The New York Times, Salon.com, and The DNA Files, distributed by NPR.
She is co-editor and co-author of Reporting Inequality: Tools and methods for covering race and ethnicity (Routledge, 2019) with Venise Wagner of San Francisco State University, and author of “News in a New America,” a fresh take on developing an inclusive U.S. news media. She also has written several chapters for textbooks on covering the sciences. Currently she is working on Skin Deep: The Search for Race in Our Genes, about the quest to address health disparities, for Oxford University Press.
Lehrman has long been involved in evangelizing journalism values, ethics and diversity as a local and national leader in the Society of Professional Journalists and the SPJ Foundation, and with other organizations such as the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education and the Center for Science and Justice at UC Santa Cruz.
Lehrman’s work includes:
- Through the Trust Project, engaging with news outlets and technology platforms around the world to collaboratively develop advanced methods to restore the public trust in news and create news transparency and accountability. Her efforts have been featured in outlets such as The Guardian, NPR, The Atlantic, Associated Press, the Verge, USA Today, the BBC, Fox26 and Forbes. The project has received support from Craig Newmark Philanthropies, Google, the Democracy Fund, and the Knight Foundation.
- Employing a human-centered design process that puts public needs and wants at the center of The Trust Project, also engaging with the public to create ways to involve them in the Trust Indicators’ reliability and spread.
- Guiding the development of the Trust Indicators, their editorial definitions, and the Schema.org vocabulary that signals their presence on news pages.
- The Trust Indicators launched in November 2017 on dozens of news sites produced by ten news outlets. These include major legacy outlets and digital natives in the United States, Canada, and Europe. Another 20 outlets have since launched, plus several in Brazil.
- Reporting Inequality: Tools and methods for covering race and ethnicity, which Lehrman co-edited with Venise Wagner of San Francisco State University, was published by Routledge in Spring 2019.
- Leading discussion on issues of ethics and trust in the news as a public intellectual through public writing, speaking, and providing media interviews internationally.