Hello, is it facts we’re looking for?

An infodemic love story.

May 5, 2020
Category: From the Institute

It was mid-January and the Poynter staff were preparing for another ambitious year.

After all, in 2019, Poynter trained 64,582 journalists, educators, students and citizens; hosted 394 seminars, workshops and custom teaching programs; trained people from all 50 states, traveled to 22 countries and taught on-location at 470 organizations; welcomed hundreds of fact-checkers from 50 countries to Cape Town, South Africa for our 6th annual global summit; surpassed five million teenagers consuming MediaWise digital information literacy content; served a combined 75 million website impressions; honored pioneering and award-winning broadcast journalist Katie Couric and Los Angeles Times executive director Norm Pearlstine; launched an ethics center; and made journalism better and democracy stronger.

It was a typical Monday Morning meeting. The mood was light until a colleague, Cris Tardáguila, Poynter’s associate director of the International Fact-Checking Network, spoke up. “The coronavirus situation in China is serious. The international fact-checking community is bombarded with misinformation. “Lives are at risk,” she said. “You guys, this is big.”

The World Health Organization would later state that the COVID-19 outbreak is accompanied by a massive “infodemic” — an overabundance of information — some accurate and some not.

By now, you may be wondering, how, exactly is this a love story? Some believe that the opposite of fear is love. During a pandemic, we’d also like to think that an antidote to fear is facts. People are looking for information they can trust.

The early onslaught of misinformation motivated Tardáguila to lead a never-before-seen global effort to debunk coronavirus misinformation. In the days and weeks that followed that Monday in January, Poynter’s IFCN would coordinate the #CoronavirusFacts Alliance — a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers from 70+ countries working in 40+ languages.

Today, they have debunked over 4,000 pieces of COVID-19 related misinformation. From flagging false cures spreading on social media to clarifying what politicians tout as “science,” the international fact-checking community has been working tirelessly to ensure that you have the facts and information you need to keep your family safe.

And that, my friends, is love.

Today is #GivingTuesdayNow and there are so many deserving people, organizations and effort to support. There are those on the front lines working in healthcare, keeping food on our tables and providing us the infrastructure to stay safer at home. There are those who have lost their jobs or been furloughed, who are hungry and behind with their bills. There are small business owners staring down an uncertain future.

We hope that as you explore your philanthropic options today, you consider supporting the essential work of journalists and fact-checkers.

Here are five things you can do to share the love:

  1. Subscribe to your local paper.
  2. Donate to local nonprofit news organizations, whether it’s an NPR or PBS affiliate or a hyperlocal news website. Some for-profit newsrooms accept donations, too.
  3. Be smart about what you read, believe and share.
  4. Donate to support furloughed journalists, or to the American Journalism Project, which is supporting local news organizations across the U.S.
  5. Support Poynter and help journalists everywhere do their work better.

The first 100 donations to Poynter of $100 on Tuesday, May 5 will be matched 100% by a generous Poynter Foundation Board member. 

Together, we can end this love story factually ever after.