Media Trust & Democracy:
The Casper Project


July 16, 2019, 5-7:30 p.m. MT • Free event

Dear National News Media: Why Should We Trust You?

Are you skeptical about what you see in the news? Do you believe national journalists and news organizations are biased? Sure, you could write a letter to the editor, post a comment on a news site, or opine on social media. But here’s a rare opportunity to raise your concerns in person with national journalists, including representatives from The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Associated Press and BuzzFeed News. Learn more and get tickets here.

Listening to news skeptics

Project in Wyoming seeks to understand why people are distrustful of the news

The Society of Professional Journalists and the SPJ Foundation want to get a deep understanding of the reasons so many people distrust news organizations and their reporting. Journalism plays an important role in a democracy, so it’s concerning when citizens don’t trust the media’s news coverage, particularly reporting that holds elected officials accountable for actions that can impact the public.

Report: Media trust project does not change opinions but fosters dialogue

Read the complete report
Press release

SPJ spent the first half of 2019 listening to news consumers explain why they are skeptical about what they read, hear or see in the news media. Rod Hicks, SPJ’s Journalist on Call, led the project, which also included guidance on how to distinguish between news and other types of information and interactions with journalists.

The project was conducted in Casper, Wyoming, with residents from all walks of life who were asked to attend five discussions and presentations. Wyoming was chosen because it has a slightly higher share of residents who distrust the news media, according to Gallup. The project hoped to leave participants with a better understanding of how journalists do their jobs and better equipped to judge the credibility of news reports. It also hoped to gain insights from the discussions that could be useful in developing strategies for rebuilding trust.

Project manager

Rod Hicks is SPJ’s Journalist on Call, a position created to address the issue of dwindling trust in the news media. The Casper Project is consistent with the mission of the position to help journalists understand why the public doesn’t trust them and what they can do to re-earn more trust. Rod previously worked as an editor at the Associated Press and several newspapers, including the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press and St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He holds a master’s degree in newspaper management from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and a bachelor’s degree in mass communication from the University of Alabama.

Project assistant

Rebecca Travers was born and raised in Wyoming and currently lives in Casper, where she is an active member of the community and a familiar face to many. Her deep knowledge of the area and its residents makes her a valuable resource for The Casper Project. Just as important is her previous experience as an administrative assistant and her interest in addressing social issues. She is assisting with the project while enrolled as a full-time student at Casper College.

About the Society of Professional Journalists

SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to informing citizens; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and fights to protect First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. Support excellent journalism and fight for your right to know. Become a member today.

About the SPJ Foundation

The SPJ Foundation is a public foundation dedicated to ensuring that those who carry on the tradition of a free press are prepared for the challenge. The SPJ Foundation supports educational and professional needs of journalists and journalism students. Support excellent journalism and fight for your right to know. Give to the SPJ Foundation.

Dates of sessions

– February 12, 2019
– March 15, 2019
(Makeup day for those who missed the Feb. 12 session)
– March 19, 2019
– May 7, 2019
– June 4, 2019
July 16, 2019

Qualifications to participate in the project

– You must live in the Casper, Wyoming, area to join the group.
– You must have some concerns about the trustworthiness of the local or national news media.
– You must be at least 18 years old.
– You are strongly urged to commit to attending all five 2-hour sessions. If you missed Session 1, you should attend a makeup session on March 15.

How to apply to participate

Fill out the application form and you will be contacted if selected to participate.
– Selected participants will receive up to $100 ($20 per session) for their participation.


Have questions?

Email us here with your questions or comments about the project.