Journalism against Misinformation

fake news

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the value of professional journalism and reminded brands of the importance of advertising in safe environments, which contributes to their image and business. At a time of great uncertainty, there’s a natural search for quality information and an increasing rejection of channels that spread false data. This reinforces the need to invest in brand safety, so as to choose partners carefully in the media and communication industry – whether for advertising or developing content projects.

A survey conducted by Sala de Democracia Digital, a FGV-RJ project that monitors social media, shows that, despite the many rumors and lies that have been disseminated, the spread of misinformation dropped during the pandemic. The new coronavirus has made more people turn to news outlets with a solid reputation, such as Yahoo and HuffPost, which have been noticing a significant growth in audience and have created special content hubs and projects to help their readers get through the pandemic: Yahoo at Home and Coronavirus

At the same time, there has been increased oversight and exposure of websites that disseminate lies. Earlier this year, fact-checkers from 70 countries came together to launch #TheCoronaVirusFactsAlliance, a collaborative project to double-check information about the virus, with daily updates and publication in several languages. It’s the largest initiative of its kind to date, coordinated by a Brazilian woman, Cristina Tardáguila, associate director at International Fact-Checking Network at the Poynter Institute. 

Consumers, on the other hand, are demanding more from brands regarding misinformation. According to a survey conducted by Verizon Media at the beginning of 2020, 75% of consumers consider brands responsible for their adjacent content, and 67% of consumers feel less favorable toward brands adjacent to content of low quality or dubious veracity. 

Social platforms are pressured to increase monitoring and eliminate fake content from their networks. The advertisers are notified that they are allocating funds to websites that spread lies and are invited to block this type of advertising. 

At Verizon Media, there is a different work model. Instead of blocking websites using blacklists, they work with whitelists, that is, they advertise only on appropriate websites. After all, it’s hard to keep up with the proliferation of websites and blogs with inappropriate content. Even customers are encouraged to create their own whitelists. There is additional work: advertisers can and should filter the content they want to be associated with, even in the most premium environments. 

These movements are in line with new habits and values that have been consolidated among consumers. A study presented in the latest edition of DMEXCO shows that reliability is a great differentiator when choosing a brand. The study found that 86% of consumers choose brands they trust, and 82% of them are willing to let go of brands that break their trust.

It’s not by chance that news outlets with a solid reputation add more value to companies that advertise on their channels or choose them as partners for branded content projects. A study carried out by Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism launched last year revealed that, in face of the dissemination of false information, 40% of consumers in the United States have turned to news publications with a more consolidated reputation

Quality information was identified by the consulting firm CAUSE as one of the 12 aspects that brands must observe in 2020. In its annual report, the organization points out that the search for reliable data during the pandemic should strengthen professional journalism and the population's ability to discern between opinion and misinformation.