Global Spotlight: Getting Facts Right Worldwide

A new group is using the hive mind to stop misinformation’s spread.

These Days, “Fake News” is often at the top of the news. But not all fake news—when it actually is fake—is created equal. A meme-based misinformation campaign in one country can be very different from propaganda in another. And not every news organization is skilled in identifying false information in order to stop its spread.

That challenge prompted Fergus Bell, a former Associated Press editor, to create the Global Council to Restore Trust in Media and Fight Misinformation. Launched last April, the Council comprises media associations including the Global Editors Network, Online News Association, and World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers.

The global reach is essential for the Council, Bell says, because it allows participants to share best practices from countries that are well versed in particular forms of misinformation but often don’t have reserves of money to address the problem. “I went into one particularly inspiring meeting in Romania, where they don’t have access to huge grants that other organizations do,” Bell says. “And they say, ‘We’ve been dealing with misinformation for decades, but we’ve built it into our [fact-checking] workflows.’”

The Council is currently building a repository of information from newsrooms around the world that provide details on forms of misinformation and how to address it. Over time, Bell says, that effort should help editors reduce the need to reinvent their fact-checking operations.

“At an organizational level, we’ll be able to start spotting patterns and start making connections ourselves, so we’ll be able to say, ‘We know of someone doing something very similar to what you’re doing.’”

That work is still in the early going, and the Council is looking for new partners and funding resources. But Bell is confident that the effort can help connect journalists around the world, unified in their goal to get the facts right.

“My vision for this is to see at some point a Kenyan journalist sitting with Guatemalan journalist sitting with a journalist from Cleveland, Ohio, discussing how they untangle this information and learning from each other,” he says.

(Vertigo3d/Getty Images)

Mark Athitakis

By Mark Athitakis

Mark Athitakis, a contributing editor for Associations Now, has written on nonprofits, the arts, and leadership for a variety of publications. He is a coauthor of The Dumbest Moments in Business History and hopes you never qualify for the sequel. MORE

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