Trusting News becomes independent organization

After more than eight years of being co-hosted by two other institutions, Trusting News has become an independent organization and is pursuing tax-exempt status.

“What started as a part-time project in 2016 has steadily grown and evolved, and it’s exciting to have reached this point in our development,” said Joy Mayer, Trusting News founder and executive director.


Trusting News started in 2016. It was incubated and hosted at the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism, where Mayer was wrapping up 12 years on the faculty. Randy Picht, director of RJI, shared Mayer’s frustration about declining trust in the integrity of journalism and her curiosity about what journalists could learn about the concept of trust more broadly. RJI made the launch of Trusting News possible and has continued to support it financially ever since.

In 2019, the project became co-hosted by RJI and the American Press Institute. Under the API leadership of first Tom Rosenstiel and then Michael Bolden, Trusting News has collaborated with API’s team in several core ways. A few examples: The Trusting News team contributed to API’s election programming in 2020, has been regularly involved in TableStakes training, and has collaborated with Letrell Crittenden on work around newsroom culture and diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging.

“I’m grateful to know I’ll be able to continue learning from API colleagues like Kevin Loker, Letrell Crittenden and Sam Ragland. Their fingerprints are all over Trusting News, and I don’t expect that to change,” Mayer said. “I’m so grateful for the years of collaboration, leadership and support from both RJI and API.”

With the support of both organizations, Trusting News has:

  • Launched a weekly newsletter that now goes to more than 2,600 people with an open rate above 45%.
  • Launched a Slack community for several hundred journalists committed to building trust.
  • Developed training programs that now reach more than 2,000 journalists per year.
  • Developed regular partnerships with other journalism support organizations. Highlights of that are co-leading the annual Advancing Democracy fellowship alongside Hearken and Solutions Journalism, and developing Dimensions of Difference alongside Spaceship Media.

Key players and next steps

The core staff of Trusting News remains on board: Mayer; Lynn Walsh, who has been with the project since its second year, in 2017; and Mollie Muchna, who joined in 2019.

Trusting News has been supported by the pro bono Lawyers for Reporters during the spinoff and is being guided by their team during the process of applying for tax-exempt status as well. During that application process, the new fiscal sponsor for the project will be Journalism Funding Partners, which supports partnerships between funders and local newsrooms.

An inaugural board of directors has formed and held its first meeting. Joining staff members Joy Mayer and Lynn Walsh on the initial board will be Andrew DeVigal, director of the Agora Journalism Center at the University of Oregon, Reuben Stern, director of the Missouri School of Journalism’s New York program, and Richard T. Griffiths, retired head of CNN’s editorial quality control team. This initial board will lay the groundwork for the organization and for a more robust board in 2025.

Support for newsrooms

This shift will change some of the administrative functions of Trusting News, and its relationship to funding partners, but its partner journalists are unlikely to notice a difference. The team now simply has additional autonomy to pursue its core 2024 priorities, which include:

  • Polarization and news avoidance: Research and training around election coverage and the relationship between trust, polarization and news avoidance (including through the Advancing Democracy fellowship, a partnership with Hearken and Solutions Journalism)
  • AI: Research and training (including through a partnership with the Online News Association) around how newsrooms can most effectively model and disclose responsible use of AI
  • Avoiding newsroom echo chambers: Support for newsrooms around how their newsroom culture, routines and conversations can continually invite and explore diverse perspectives, in service of more nuanced, complex coverage
  • Engagement and listening: Resources and training pushing newsrooms to invest in and systematize conversations with people who have low trust in the news

“I never expected when I launched in 2016 that Trusting News would still exist in 2024. Frankly, I’ve always said I wish the work weren’t so needed. And instead, it seems more needed every year,” Mayer said. “We’re committed to continuing to show up for journalists who are willing to invest in earning trust.”

New to Trusting News, or looking to engage further?

Interested in becoming a funding partner?

The Trusting News team is actively fundraising to support its research and programming. With ideas or questions about funding Trusting News, email

At Trusting News, we learn how people decide what news to trust and turn that knowledge into actionable strategies for journalists. We train and empower journalists to take responsibility for demonstrating credibility and actively earning trust through transparency and engagement. Subscribe to our Trust Tips newsletter. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Read more about our work at