Coronavirus round-up: the problem with sharing crowd photos, how to deal with the infodemic, and journalism training online

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Edited by Marco Nurra


There’s no wisdom in crowd photos. “To be clear, not all such images are equal. Some people – both as individuals and in groups – clearly are behaving in ways that endanger themselves and others. Stopping the spread of the coronavirus requires collective discipline, and blatant infringements thereupon can be a legitimate magnet for journalistic scrutiny. All too often, however, outraged reactions to crowd photos are reflexive and misplaced. Taken together, they risk creating a narrative of widespread disobedience that is just wrong, or at least devoid of important social context,” writes Jon Allsop.

Too much coronavirus information? First Draft will help you separate the helpful from the harmful. This guide to navigating the infodemic explains how misinformation spreads and gives you practical tips for verifying content online.

The new Verification Handbook for Disinformation and Media Manipulation is online and available for free. This book equips journalists with the knowledge to investigate social media accounts, bots, private messaging apps, information operations, deep fakes, as well as other forms of disinformation and media manipulation. The book is published by the European Journalism Centre and supported by Craig Newmark Philanthropies.

Here is the best treatment you’ll ever get for the COVID-19 infodemic. Misinformation can kill. As of April 24, at least 300 people died in Iran from drinking straight methanol (a common ingredient in windshield wiper fluid), believing it might prevent COVID-19. Poynter has assembled tips from journalists and various fact-checking organizations around the world to help you protect yourself from misinformation during the COVID-19 “infodemic.”

Malicious forces creating ‘perfect storm’ of coronavirus disinformation. Russia and China among state and other actors spreading fake news and disruption, say experts.

Iran arrests 2 journalists for allegedly sharing cartoon mocking government’s COVID-19 response. The cartoon mocked self-proclaimed Islamic healers who have touted cures for COVID-19. It depicted Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei as a nurse, and mocked Ayatollah Abbas Tabrizian and Mehdi Sabili, both of whom have claimed to have developed treatments COVID-19.

Serbian reporter Ana Lalić on her arrest and detention over COVID-19 report. On April 1, Serbian police arrested Ana Lalić, a reporter for news website Nova.rs, just hours after she published a report on chaotic conditions in a local hospital. Authorities held Lalić in custody overnight and charged her with publishing information that could incite panic. “The biggest obstacle is to get another side of the story, because all information is centralized by the government, and every other source is censored,” Serbian journalist Ana Lalić told CPJ.

Journalists detained, assaulted in India during COVID-19 lockdown. On April 11, 2020, police in the Bandipora district of Indian-controlled Jammu and Kashmir state arrested Mushtaq Ganaie, a reporter with the English-language privately held daily Kashmir Observer, on allegations of obstructing police, violating the COVID-19 lockdown, and spreading the virus. It’s one of many cases, according to CPJ.

Can journalism be taught online? (We might find out soon). “Higher education is planning for the possibility of a Fall semester being taught exclusively remotely. The teaching of journalism might be ready for this anyway, but some adaptation will be needed,” writes Frederic Filloux.

International Fact-Checking Network is receiving $1 million from YouTube to support fact-checkers. The Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) will receive $1 million in funding from YouTube as part of the Google News Initiative (GNI) to support the fact-checking community in its battle against misinformation. “International Fact-Checking Network is committed to raising resources for fact-checkers and to support the community’s work. We look forward to receiving applications across the spectrum focusing on developing new tools and formats to increase the impact of fact-checking. The applications will be evaluated by an independent selection committee, and the IFCN will serve the community in its utmost capacity when the applications are open on May 20” said Baybars Orsek, director of the IFCN.

(Photo via Thomas Baekdal)