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Transparency and Trust at the Intersection of News and Advertising

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What are the Implications for a Brand's Messaging? A Virtual Conversation


Sarah Brandt - Executive Vice President, Partnerships at NewsGuard

Heidi Legg - Lead Research Fellow on "The Future of Media Project", a joint project with Institute of Qualitative Social Science (IQSS) and Harvard Business School (HBS) at Harvard University

Kathryn Minckler - Founder of The Luxury Marketing Council of Connecticut-Hudson Valley


Sarah Brandtis Executive Vice President, Partnerships for NewsGuard, based in Austin, Texas. In that role, she manages NewsGuard's global partnerships with schools, libraries, researchers, technology platforms, ad tech providers, security companies, and more. Prior to joining NewsGuard, Sarah worked as an Associate Consultant for Bain & Company, a global management consulting firm. She graduated from Yale University.


Launched in March 2018 by media entrepreneur and award-winning journalist Steven Brill and former Wall Street Journal publisher Gordon Crovitz, NewsGuard provides credibility ratings and detailed “Nutrition Labels” for thousands of news and information sources. NewsGuard rates all the news and information sources that account for 95% of online engagement across the US, Canada, UK, Germany, France, and Italy. 


NewsGuard’s ratings are conducted by trained journalists using nine apolitical criteria of journalistic practice, including whether a news source repeatedly publishes false content, whether it regularly corrects or clarifies errors, and whether it avoids deceptive headlines. Based on the criteria, each source receives an overall trust rating, a trust score of 0-100, a score on each of the nine criteria, and a detailed “Nutrition Label” explaining the rating and providing examples of the site’s editorial practices. Advertisers, advertising agencies and advertising tech companies license NewsGuard’s ratings to direct their programmatic advertising toward legitimate journalism and avoid misinformation.



Heidi Legg- is an American-Canadian journalist who has written extensively about the media landscape. This year she published an extensive set of indices onUS Media Ownership and Canadian Media Ownership detailing its funders and owners. She narrows in on the top 160 mainstream US media and a new class of Emergent Nonprofit Digital News and its funders and illustrates the consolidation by state of local newspapers by a handful of mostly hedge fund owners.

She has written sweeping papers on America’s media: The Fight Against Disinformation in AmericaA Landscape Study of Emerging US Models in Local News and a 20th Century recap that brings us to today inPreserving America's Thought Leader Magazines and How Trust Intersects With Subscription. She has numerous OpEds explaining and championing pivotal industry topics: local news models, millionaire owners, Facebook’s news feed failing local news, amending Section 230, urging transparency for political donations of media owners, and nimble news innovation in the UK published in The Boston Globe, CNN, The Atlantic, USA Today, The Press Gazette and more.  


She founded TheEditorial in 2012, learning early on about the ease of creating new digital media news affording her an early insight into how the digital news landscape was changing and its impact on trust in our information ecosystem. She also spent a decade in media and tech, beginning in 1996, when she headed to California for this thing called the Internet. She is lead research fellow on The Future of Media Project, a joint project with the Institute of Qualitative Social Science (IQSS) and the Harvard Business School (HBS) at Harvard. Prior to this, she spent two years at the Harvard Kennedy School at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy as Director of Special Projects.

Suggested Background Reading 

2022 Edelman Trust Barometer

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