Fact Checking and Information in the Age of Covid

A Research Paper by Jean Seaton, Amy Sippett and Ben Worthy, published by The Political Quarterly

The Covid‐19 pandemic has revealed and accelerated an information crisis as well as a health one. What we discover about Covid 19, how it spreads, to whom and why and how best to mitigate it—all depend on information. The essays in this special section, which this article introduces, explore the importance of information and the fundamental role of fact checkers in understanding how information flows, why mistakes are made, and how to counteract them. Fact checking as an idea and a practice emerged in the early twenty‐first century, developed as a positive beacon to counteract a growing sense that information could no longer be trusted. Now, more than a decade after its creation, fact checking sits within a far more complex and chaotic media context, and its expertise and understanding has never been so important. We need to understand what fact checkers do because they are grappling with how to tether us to reality.

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Jean Seaton

About Jean Seaton

Jean Seaton is Professor of Media History and the Official Historian of the BBC. She will publish in the Autumn of 2014 the next volume of the Corporations story, Holding the Line: the BBC and the Nation, taking Lord Asa Briggs work forward for Profile Books. This involves everything the BBC did in a tumultuous decade from the conflict in Northern Ireland, to the invasion of the Falklands, to Not the Nine O'Clock News, the Proms, the early music revolution, devolution, Dennis Potter's greatest plays, Attenborough's revolutionary series Life on Earth, and Radio 1s most influential moment, as well as the role of women in the Corporation, programmes for children and a tense and complicated relationship with the government. The history was given privileged access to BBC archives, but also gained privileged access to state papers. For the first time the Corporation's history is seen in the round. It has depended on several hundred interviews, and explores both the programme making decision that go into the making of an iconic Television series like John le Carre's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, but also the high politics around the imposition of the broadcasting ban.

Details

Author
Jean Seaton
Date
10 September 2020
Published By
The Political Quarterly
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