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A Moment of Change: Challenges and opportunities when covering hate speech and mis/disinformation

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Daniel Schludi, Unsplash

Daniel Schludi, Unsplash

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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. 

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.