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New Eye-Tracking Research Confirms Efficacy of Journalistic Transparency Indicators in Rebuilding Trust in News
Wednesday, September 20, 2023

News Skeptics, Who are Most Vulnerable to Misinformation and Disinformation, Most Positively Affected by Trust Indicators(®)

PACIFICA, Calif., Sept. 14, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Journalistic transparency elements earn user attention and significantly strengthen news credibility and trust, according to groundbreaking eye-tracking research announced today by the Trust Project, a nonpartisan, nonprofit global consortium of news organizations dedicated to addressing the crisis of trust and disinformation, and the University of Georgia's Digital Media Attention and Cognition Lab (DMAC).

According to Reuters' 2023 Digital News Report, trust in news fell by two percent across all markets in the last year, leaving a staggering 56% of people worried about recognizing between real and fake news.

"With the global threat of misinformation so widely known, the findings of this research are quite hopeful for our industry and society as a whole," said Sally Lehrman, founder and CEO of the Trust Project. "This study equips news organizations with actionable insights to fortify their credibility and empower the public to distinguish fact from falsehood."

The in-person eye-tracking experiment, led by DMAC Lab Director Bart Wojdynski and Senior Research Associate Charlotte Varnum, was designed to better understand how people interact with the Trust Project's Trust Indicators® in online news articles. The study examined how users form credibility assessments, using eye-tracking to measure visual attention to elements on article pages and observe page browsing. Each participant also answered a series of questions about the article and website. In a landscape where much of the existing research serves only to highlight the loss of trust in news media, this study revealed tangible, research-backed solutions.

Key findings include:

    1. Mainstream News Skeptics Most Affected: Mainstream news skeptics
       experienced the most positive impact and spent the most time reviewing
       policies and procedures.
    2. Best Practices and Journalist Expertise Emerge: Visual attention to
       disclosures about ethics, ownership, funding and other standards (Best
       Practices) was a significant predictor of perceived news site credibility
       and value. Study participants spent the most time with information about
       the journalist, followed by Best Practices.
    3. Design Matters: The way transparency elements and labels are designed -
       especially their prominence on the page - played a crucial role.

"Given the growing importance of news audiences being able to assess the credibility of information from a variety of sources online, these findings show that different journalistic transparency efforts can reach different audience members, and lead to greater perceptions of not just credibility, but news value," said Wojdynski.

Review the full report.

About the Trust Project:

The nonprofit, nonpartisan Trust Project created the 8 Trust Indicators®, which are a collaborative, journalism-generated standard for news that helps both regular people and the technology companies' machines easily assess the authority and integrity of news.

About the University of Georgia's College of Journalism and Digital Media Attention and Cognition Lab
The University of Georgia's College of Journalism and Digital Media Attention and Cognition Lab conducts innovative research aimed at enhancing media literacy and promoting the responsible consumption of news and information.

Rebecca Nowacek

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SOURCE The Trust Project

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