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COVID-19 / Vaccine Media Hub: Our in-house scientists are supporting COVID-19 vaccine response efforts for newsrooms & fact-checkers
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Responding to COVID-19: Reflections on year one

To our incredible community of journalists, fact-checkers, podcasters, artists, and designers, and to the supporters that believed in the importance of collaborative responses to public health information inequities,

Thank you for making it possible to continue our public health response work.

Since 2018, the priority at Meedan’s Health Desk has been to alleviate the information bottlenecks between critical emerging scientific research and the journalism and fact-checking communities that need to get the information accurately and quickly.

As part of Meedan’s Digital Health Lab, we are entering the second year of Health Desk project. Journalists and public health experts are continuing to work together in a time of crisis to get fast, reliable information to newsrooms and fact-checking organizations around the world. With a rapid-response publishing process that borrows from two distinct industries—computer engineering and television news—our all-women team has written more than 200 explainers on COVID-19 topics for journalists and fact-checkers.

In local newsrooms from Delhi to Indianapolis, our work means that journalists do not have to scramble to find experts for comment every time COVID-19 news breaks. This alleviates an information bottleneck between critical emerging scientific research and public audiences that need to get the information accurately and quickly.

Over the last year, we have developed scientific collaborations with communicators reaching millions around the world, and now with our brilliant collaborators at the Australian Science Media Centre, we also have a dedicated support service to specifically help with reporting on COVID-19 vaccines. The includes a global alliance of Science Media Centres and Meedan Digital Health Lab’s in-house team of public health scientists and pandemic response experts, supported by the Google News Initiative. For updates, check out https://health-desk.org/vaccines/.

Working with you all over the last year has been an honor. The explainers, glossary terms and resources that our scientists have created to support communicators reaches audiences in more than 18 countries across Asia, Latin America, Africa, Europe and North America. A sample content impact audit recently highlighted that 81% of the public health pieces that we have supported are on the front-page of Google search results for that topic in the region covered. That is such an essential metric as we think about the health information data voids that exist online, and how your work fills the information gaps that might otherwise largely contain problematic health misinformation.

With a small team of scientists, researchers and communicators to influence diverse information spaces, these collaborations have shown the level of scale that can be made possible through syndication models for content dissemination, and strong collaborations across the public health and journalism fields.

Conversations with partner organizations have demonstrated how having access to experts can increase the subject matter that fact-checkers can cover, and therefore the content available online to the fact-checkers’and journalists’ audiences. How can we work together to continue to fill public health information gaps across a variety of topics, ranging from vaccinations to infectious disease, from nutrition to reproductive health care?

At a presentation our team participated in about health misinformation hosted by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, health fact-checking was identified as “the next frontier of health literacy”, and this is in direct response to the public health efforts of innovative communicators around the world. This includes our amazing partners: VERA Files, India Today, Nigeria Health Watch, Speak Up Africa, Boom Live, Africa Check, Animal Politico, and many more. We’re grateful for your dedication to untangling complex questions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, fact-checking in an era of evolving science and moments of uncertainty. Your response to the misinfodemic is vital.

We have also started to serve local community media outlets in the United States, including public broadcasters such as the Atlanta NPR-affiliate, WABE, and Indianapolis’ public radio station WFYI, as well as large media organizations like the New York Times and Reuters. Through a broader network of public broadcasters in the United States, called America Amplified, COVID-19 questions answered by Meedan scientists are brought to local audiences across the country. Our media partnerships also include Tayo Help Desk, a resource that offers American Filipinos localized insights into COVID-19 information.

We thank each and every one of the journalists, fact-checkers, and communicators that have come to us for support, and are looking forward to continuing collaborations in 2021.

Here’s where you can find more information about the Vaccine Media Hub collaboration: https://meedan.com/blog/questions-about-covid-19-vaccines-the-vaccine-media-hub-is-coming-soon/

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