Newsrooms Team Up with TruthBuzz Fellows to Combat Misinformation as Election Seasons Near

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Making the Truth Go Viral: Fellows will work with newsrooms to improve the reach of their fact-checking. Credit: News & Observer

One of Brazil’s largest newspapers, an independent fact-checking organization in Nigeria, and a McClatchy newspaper in North Carolina are among the first newsrooms to partner with TruthBuzz Fellows, who are experimenting with new ways to make facts go viral.

The International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) this week announced a total of six partners in Brazil, Nigeria and the United States - newsrooms that have demonstrated a deep commitment to combating misinformation and a desire to experiment with innovative fact-checking projects. ICFJ's TruthBuzz Fellows will spend at least six months embedded in the newsrooms. Together with the partners, they will help develop compelling storytelling methods that improve the reach and impact of fact-checking, at a time when elections near in each country.

Brazil

The TruthBuzz Fellow in Brazil will be embedded with Aos Fatos, a media startup formed in 2015 in response to a need for rigorously verified information. Tai Nalon, co-founder and director of Aos Fatos, told ICFJ they’re partnering with TruthBuzz because they believe it’s imperative to collaborate. It also is important to “have someone who can bring oxygen and new insights” as they continue to fight disinformation, she said.

The second partner newsroom in Brazil is Folha de São Paulo, one of the largest newspapers in Brazil dedicated to increasing the reach of their existing fact-checking efforts. Folha de São Paulo is interested in expanding its audience on WhatsApp and developing a strong relationship with all its followers.

Nigeria 

In Nigeria, a TruthBuzz reporter will collaborate with reporters from Africa Check and Daily Trust. Launched in 2012, Africa Check is an independent fact-checking organization dedicated to promoting accuracy and accountability. Peter Cunliffe-Jones, executive director at Africa Check, said they are excited for the Fellow to experiment with packaging their fact-checking in an “attractive and compelling” way to help their readers and listeners better understand complex issues. In Abuja, the TruthBuzz Fellow will collaborate with reporters from Daily Trust, a newspaper founded 20 years ago with a mission to disseminate credible information.  

The United States

The TruthBuzz Fellow in the U.S. will work primarily with The News & Observer in Raleigh while also offering support to other McClatchy reporters in the vicinity. Robyn Tomlin, executive editor and Carolinas regional editor at The News & Observer, said they have been working diligently with Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill since 2016 to build a “statewide, collaborative, open-sourced fact-checking network that benefits citizens across the state.” Tomlin also told ICFJ they are looking forward to working with the TruthBuzz Fellow to develop “best practices for engagement and find the largest possible audiences for this important accountability work.” 

The U.S. Fellow will also collaborate with PolitiFact, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the 2008 presidential election. According to Aaron Sharockman, PolitiFact’s executive director, they have aspired to be “aggressive marketers and promoters of the truth” since starting out in 2007. Sharockman also told ICFJ they’re “excited to have a fresh set of eyes to examine our work and workflow to try and improve the reach and impact of our work.”

In addition to Brazil, Nigeria and the U.S., TruthBuzz Fellows also will be working with partners in India and Indonesia. 

As part of the program, First Draft News trainers will help the newsrooms counter misinformation and ramp up verification practices as Fellows design and launch new storytelling methods that improve the reach and impact of fact-checking. The Fellowships are supported by Craig Newmark Philanthropies.

Interested in joining our TruthBuzz cohort? It’s not too late! ICFJ is still looking for Fellows in India, Indonesia, Nigeria, and the United States, as well as newsroom partners in India and Indonesia. Apply now to be a fellow: The fellowships in Nigeria and the United States are scheduled to launch by August 2018, and in India and Indonesia by fall of 2018. Interested in being a newsroom partner in India or Indonesia? Contact Alexsandra Canedo.

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