June 3, 2021

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News you can use

Last week, a report from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism found that citizens in eight countries still largely rely on the mainstream news media for accurate information about COVID-19. It also found a correlation between those who use news outlets to get information about the ongoing vaccination campaigns and lower susceptibility to vaccine misinformation.

The study surveyed respondents from the United States, United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, South Korea, Japan, Argentina and Brazil. With the exception of Japan and Brazil, the study compared data respondents surveyed in April 2020 to those surveyed in April 2021.

While news organizations remained the most used in those countries, they were not the most trusted. Scientists, doctors and health experts were seen as most trustworthy — with news organizations ranking in the middle of the pack.

On average every source took a slight dip in trustworthiness between 2020 and 2021. Scientists, doctors and health experts saw the steepest declines in trust in Argentina and the United States. Despite these declines, however, this category remained the most trusted overall.

Politicians were seen as a major source of COVID-19 misinformation. In the United States, polarization impacted how respondents saw the problem. In April 2020, 57% of those identified as left-leaning said they saw a significant amount of misinformation from the government in the past week. That flipped in April 2021 with 60% of conservatives saying they’d seen a significant amount of misinformation from the government.

While reliance on news media correlated with a lower belief in vaccine misinformation, the opposite was true for messaging apps. In countries with the widespread use of apps like WhatsApp and Telegram, there was a strong correlation with belief in vaccine misinformation. This correlation was strongest in Germany, where anti-vax activists have used Telegram to get around content moderation practices on platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

Interesting fact-checks

Photo by Colombiacheck

  • Demagog.pl “Plasma of the vaccinated erases antibodies? Fake news!” (in Polish)
    • A Facebook post showing a broadcast news piece about blood donation falsely claimed both that the Red Cross is not accepting submissions from vaccinated individuals and that antibodies from the COVID-19 vaccine destroy the body’s natural immune system. Demgog.pl spoke to experts who refuted the claim and explained that the antibodies boost your immune system rather than destroy it.

Updates from the IFCN

This is a new feature we’re rolling out for the first newsletter of each month where we highlight some of the IFCN’s work. 

  • There are currently 109 fact-checking organizations from 55 countries that are signatories to the IFCN’s Code of Principles — a set of best practices for fact-checking.
    • 46 became new signatories in 2020.
  • The IFCN has partnered with the Institute for War and Peace Reporting to help train journalists from 17 countries in topics such as basic fact-checking, leadership and audience engagement.

Quick hits

File Photo by: STRF/STAR MAX/IPx 2020 12/10/20 / AP Photo

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Harrison Mantas is a reporter for the International Fact-Checking Network covering the wide world of misinformation. He previously worked in Arizona and Washington D.C. for…
Harrison Mantas

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