The program, launched in 2018, is designed to help consumers sort fact from fiction online, an issue that will be front and center in the fall presidential campaign. Poynter recently launched the MediaWise Voter Project, which is aimed at first-time voters, as well as MediaWise for Seniors, which is directed at those over 50. The program also has MediaWise for Gen Z, which features virtual training events, educational videos and fact checking content for teens.
Brennan, the moderator of CBS News’ Face the Nation, said in an email that although social media has gotten better about flagging misinformation, “a lot of these fear-based messages continue to circulate on text, Twitter and Facebook because they get passed along by individuals you know and may trust.”
“That gives a veneer of believability to them which makes them more dangerous,” Brennan said. “I’m thinking of those false texts about martial law being instituted during the spring epidemic and similar misinformation about the virus that circulated by email and facebook. I fear that similar things will happen around the election in an effort to scare people away from the voting booths or to sow doubt about the voting by mail process or even the outcome of the election itself. I think journalists have gotten better at spotting some of it. I am concerned that some in the public have not.”
Nawaz, correspondent and substitute anchor for PBS Newshour, said that the proliferation of misinformation and disinformation has been especially apparent in recent years as she hears “people referring to things as news that are not news. You realize, anecdotally, how hard it is” for everyday citizens to sift through what is factual and what is not.
She said that it is especially important this year, with millions voting for first-time, and who want “to know they can trust the information that they are getting.” She said that MediaWise can be a destination to help people “make decisions on what to trust and what not to trust.”
Yellin, journalist and novelist and former correspondent for CNN, said that she frequently hears from people via direct message, asking, “Is this true?” She said that she tries to help them with tools and tips so they can decide for themselves.
Among the issues that Yellin is focusing on is money in politics, helping people find data and other sources about campaign donors and spending.
“I think that the trick is to arm people with the skills so that they can start” finding resources themselves, she said, “so that they aren’t always looking at authority figures to tell them if it is true.”
MediaWise was created with backing from Google.org and its voter project was launched with backing from Facebook.
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