Trusting News goes independent after nearly a decade of support from RJI

Trusting News, an organization that uses research-driven strategies to help journalists build stronger, more trusting relationships with their communities, is going independent after eight years backed by the Missouri School of Journalism’s Reynolds Journalism Institute (RJI). The American Press Institute (API) has also supported Trusting News since 2019.

“What was incubated a long time ago with Randy’s support has grown organically and gradually over the years, to the point where we are training 2,000 journalists a year,” Mayer said. “Now, with the type of program we’ve become, it makes sense for us to be our own nonprofit.”

Founded in 2016, the organization’s concept has its origins in founder Joy Mayer’s 2010-2011 RJI Fellowship, stemming from conversations between Mayer and RJI Executive Director Randy Picht about the problem of mistrust of news organizations — an issue that remains a key crisis throughout the industry at a time when public trust in news media is at record lows.

“I never expected when I was first pitching these ideas that the services would be so needed — that trust would continue to be a crisis and would actually only become more of a crisis,” Mayer said. “I’m grateful that we are continuing to get the support of the industry and of funders, and I’m committed to doing the work as long as it’s needed.”

I never expected when I was first pitching these ideas that the services would be so needed — that trust would continue to be a crisis and would actually only become more of a crisis.

Joy Mayer

Trusting News has steadily expanded its efforts since its founding, not only developing the aforementioned trainings but launching a Trust Tips newsletter and releasing, just last year, Trust Kits to help journalists be transparent about journalism’s public service mission. In addition, Trust Kits for educators help enhance general news literacy and show student journalists how to build trust in their communities.

“Really getting a handle on who we’re not serving and why just seems crucial to the survival of our industry and to our ability to perform the public service that we believe supports democracy,” Mayer said. “We’re committed to learning as much as we can about why people avoid the news, about who feels seen and understood by the news and about who feels left out of the news. Journalists need to be deeply curious about the answers to those questions.”

For the last five years, API has joined RJI in powering the organization’s work with additional funding and collaborating with Trusting News on a number of API projects, including Local News Summits, the Table Stakes Local News Transformation Program, the API Inclusion Index and more.

“We’ve been fortunate to partner with the Trusting News team to help increase transparency in the news process and build meaningful community engagement,” said Michael D. Bolden, CEO and executive director of API. “We look forward to this next phase as Trusting News becomes independent and extends its impact.”

Trusting News is applying for tax-exempt status and has formed its first board of directors, which includes Reuben Stern, director of the School of Journalism’s New York Program and director of NYC partnerships for RJI. But even as an independent organization, Mayer said the principles and emphases forged in collaboration with RJI will continue to light the path forward.

“RJI didn’t just incubate us and then send us out into the world,” Mayer said. “The team has been invested in our success, not just financially but by offering advice and helping us keep in touch with what they were hearing the industry needs. It’s been a wonderful partnership that I am profoundly grateful for.”

For more information or to collaborate with Trusting News, contact Joy Mayer at

About the Reynolds Journalism Institute

The Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute (RJI) at the Missouri School of Journalism empowers journalists with knowledge, tools and funding to strengthen the industry through practical innovation. RJI’s work crosses diverse specialties, including editorial content and methods, the evolution of advertising, innovation in management and the impact of new technologies. It also includes varied fields on campus such as law, computer science, marketing, education and other disciplines.

About the American Press Institute

The American Press Institute supports local and community-based media through research, programs and products that foster healthy, responsive and resilient news organizations. API envisions an inclusive democracy and society, where communities have the news and information they need to make decisions and thrive.  API is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization affiliated with the News/Media Alliance.

Cite this article

Fitzgerald, Austin (2024, June 5). Trusting News goes independent after nearly a decade of support from RJI. Reynolds Journalism Institute. Retrieved from:

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