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Meedan's New Program Managers
Shalini Joshi in India, Isabella Barroso in Brazil and Wafaa Heikal in Germany

During 2019, as we grew our Check Global program with the generous support of the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida), Meedan expanded its partnership footprint to Africa, Asia Pacific and Latin America. Shalini Joshi, Isabella Barroso, and Wafaa Heikal make our all-women superstar, program leads team working with newsrooms, fact-checkers, feminist networks and academic groups across three continents.

This represents significant growth from previous years, allowing us to deepen our support for these regions with program leads who are deeply familiar with their local contexts and who can provide ongoing support for our amazing partners around the world. We are pleased to introduce two new regional leads, along with Wafaa Heikal, our long-running program manager who is now heading up our efforts in Africa and the Western Asia regions.

Meet Shalini Joshi in India

Shalini Joshi is passionate about feminism and local journalism. Over the last two decades, her work has brought the two together. Shalini has studied misinformation, particularly on closed messaging platforms. She has been a TruthBuzz Fellow with the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ). The fellowship focused on designing creative ways to counter misinformation. As a specialist at PROTO, ICFJ’s partner in India, Shalini led Checkpoint - a research project focused on misinformation in the Indian elections.

Shalini started her professional journey with Nirantar, a centre for gender education. She trained and mentored rural women from underrepresented communities to come into new and professional roles, often breaking gender stereotypes. Shalini is the co-founder of Khabar Lahariya (“News Waves” in Hindi), an independent digital rural news network. Khabar Lahariya is known for its groundbreaking journalism and its journalists — a team of women from some of the most underserved communities of rural North India. The project is a testament to the fact that in a democracy like India, local and independent media is essential, as any other service, in small towns and rural areas.

Shalini believes that Check and its future iterations can be a turning point for journalists aiming to study and counter misinformation shared on closed messaging platforms. Newsrooms can use the platforms to curate, annotate, verify and archive misinformation and Shalini believes that for several small and independent newsrooms, this is a great service that no other platform currently provides. Check has tremendous potential for newsrooms and fact-checkers to design collaborative projects, especially around areas of common interest. Its unique features are great for large projects on politics, health, climate change or those that track human rights issues.

Meet Isabella Barroso in Brazil

Isabella Barroso, also known to many as Isa, is Meedan’s Latin America regional program manager. She works with several newsrooms in both Spanish and Portuguese spanning Brazil and Mexico.

Isa joins Meedan’s program team with a passion for human-centred design and product development that is fit to solve problems. After two degrees in journalism and interaction design, Isa hopes that her dual expertise in both journalism and her technical skills in product management and design will help bridge the intersection of society, journalism and technology.

In Latin America, our Check Global partners are Chicas Poderosas, present in 18 countries and Animal Político in México.

I am now developing more of my program skills based on my experience in product,” noted Isabella. “I am interested in social development and impact. I learned a lot about how to scale processes in different contexts and at Meedan this happens with each partner or new venture.

Misinformation in Latin America seems to be as decentralised as the open web. It’s systemised, coordinated messaging on closed messaging apps such as WhatsApp, rumours and what seems to be an information overflow to disorient information consumers.

Meet Wafaa Heikal in Berlin

Wafaa Heikal graduated in 2011 from Cairo University and received a bachelor’s in journalism. She loves fiction and thought journalism is an excellent proxy to literature.

“My focus was following the interactions of youth with culture and social media after the revolution,” she’s said.

Wafaa’s first job was as a culture journalist at Akhbar El Adab, due to her love for fiction and literature.

Her inspiration to be a journalist came directly from her participation as a student activist in the Egyptian revolution of 2011.

Through journalism I felt I could do more than just participate; I could contribute to the movement.

The move to open source investigations, open media projects and university-based journalism efforts was a way of expressing the goals and values of the revolution.

Wafaa had worked in local and regional media for years, and she is now one of Meedan’s regional program managers, working with newsrooms which often are not fully prepared for the speed of the news cycle. In this role, Wafaa helps to build fact-checking collaborations to monitor and verify social media during elections, and supports fact-checkers and human rights researchers work in verifying user generated content using Meedan verification, annotation and translation tools.

Wafaa sees immense potential for Meedan’s open source tools.

“I use Check to support different workflows depending on what types of content we want to investigate and what context we are working in - its great that our tools allow for work across an interesting range of use cases… However, I really like working with small teams and small newsrooms around the globe on our elections monitoring projects, understanding the particular national context and partner capacities and then designing new workflows around them.”

● Related

The Checklist–read misinformation news from around the world

The Weekly Roundup

—open-source investigations, industry resources and event information