Since the 2016 US presidential election, news coverage of hate speech and mis/ disinformation has skyrocketed. What was once a sleepy beat led by freelancers and activists has become a central topic of coverage for almost every news organization. As the news cycle is transformed by coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic and coverage of the 2020 presidential election ramps up, this beat is again at a critical juncture.
To better understand the challenges and changes associated with this inflection point, we conducted 10 in-depth interviews with prominent journalists covering this beat. These interviews underscore critical debates in the field about platform accountability, the news agenda, and news organizations’ infrastructure and support systems.