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Network / Meet Sneha Alexander: Meedan's new Program Associate in APAC
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Sneha Alexander
Sneha Alexander

In the last one year, Meedan has entered into new and exciting partnerships with fact-checking groups, newsrooms and networks focusing on human rights in the Asia Pacific region. With new partnerships and existing programs, we have a team working closely with partners and supporting their work. As part of this team, we’re excited to welcome Sneha Alexander to Meedan. Sneha has joined us as the Program Associate for the Asia Pacific region. Her background in journalism and fact-checking will contribute to Meedan’s work on these areas.

Catch Sneha in this short Q&A here where she talks about her background, interests and fun facts that we’re thrilled to learn about!

1. What has been your experience before you joined Meedan?

I came to Mumbai to pursue a Masters in Public Policy. During this time, I worked part-time with a travel company where I drafted itineraries and helped organize study tours and adventure programmes for schools and college students. Later I worked in the Indian news industry for 4 years. First, as a policy analyst cum fact-checker with BOOM, one of India’s premier fact-checking organizations. Later, I worked as a data journalist for the Plain Facts column of Mint, one of India’s leading financial dailies.

2. Tell us about a story/ assignment that you worked on that was exciting and insightful.

The assignments that I enjoyed the most involved fact-checking claims of top officials / leaders of the country, speaking to subject experts and had a direct impact on people’s lives. An example is a story in which my co-author and I questioned the veracity of the government claim that Indian villages have become open defecation free. We pointed to the contradiction in data provided by two wings of the government - administrative data of Clean India Mission from the concerned ministry and the household survey data of the National Statistical Organization. Other than pointing to the discrepancy in data, we also reached out to subject experts to put in perspective the government’s claim that beneficiaries may have under-reported sanitation coverage. This article also attracted criticism from the government in a public information bureau release.

3. What is the Indian media and fact-checking ecosystem like? What are the strengths and what gaps do you see?

The Indian media and fact-checking ecosystem is an extremely competitive space, where organizations have the drive to be first to report stories and flag misinformation. Thanks to the huge country India is and thriving social media platforms, there is no dearth of content or audience. Since there is space for everyone and great scope for adoption of technology driven reporting, the focus should be on producing credible, non-partisan and fact-driven content. There also needs to be greater coverage of rural and local issues.

4. What brought you to Meedan?

Having worked as a fact-checker and a journalist, I felt it would be great to facilitate credible journalism. Moreover, I was very excited by the prospect of working with the global fact-check community and team members from across the world in making the web a more inclusive and better place.

5. What’s a project you’re excited about right now?

I am excited about Meedan’s End-to-End Fact-Checking project involving different Indian fact-check organizations using WhatsApp tiplines and Check for fact-checking. Earlier, I was at the other end, a user of fact-check technology. Switching to the role of facilitator will provide great insights in understanding the intersection of technology and media. I am also very keen to be part of projects like the COVID-19 microgrants which support the good work of individuals and grassroot level media organizations that keep local issues in perspective and integrate communities to the larger online community.

In the long run, I also look forward to seeing a greater focus on data based fact-checks in the global fact-check space. Many times, the claims of political leaders and top officials are not backed by data and include misrepresentation of facts. This later turns out to be the ‘truth’ on social media platforms and at dinner table conversations giving way to hatred and other dangers. To tackle this, there needs to be more conversation and greater use of credible data in fact-checking.

6. Tell us some fun facts about Sneha.

  • I enjoy following Indian politics and would love to be part of election and political strategizing some time in future
  • Acting in a film is on my bucket list.
  • A plate of chicken biriyani can lift my mood.
  • I love spicy food and can nibble on green chilli with almost anything!!

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