The team is part of the NAWA Media Newsroom, Meedan’s open-access platform aimed at media activists, online verification enthusiasts, media professionals and journalism students in North Africa and Western Asia. The program is the result of a collaborative project involving Meedan, researchers based at the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research, and a number of grassroot media and community partners in Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, Europe, and the US.
Stories related to climate change and environmental issues are not widely covered in Egyptian media. According to the students’ recently published report, the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP27 pushed Egyptian media to cover more news related to desertification, floods, high temperatures, loss of biodiversity, sea level rise and soil erosion. That increase in coverage also came with undesired outcomes, the students reported. According to their research, more climate-related news meant more climate misinformation.
To conduct the investigation the NAWA Media students generated a list of the 60 most-read news websites in Egypt and analyzed the content that was published before and during the COP27 summit. First, they used existing research to evaluate the media organizations’ editorial credibility. Then they identified the top spreaders of misinformation related to climate change, as well as the main types of climate misinformation spreading in Egypt.
The team found that the top spreader of climate misinformation is Youm7, which happens to also be the most read online news publisher in Egypt.
The students found that the misinformation included political propaganda, highlighting alleged government achievements and policies such as solar power projects in rural areas of Egypt attracting international investors.
A majority of the news reports were based on secondary sources, anonymous sources, or no source at all.
“As I was doing my media monitoring and fact-checking work, I learned many new things about climate change and misinformation in Egypt and around the world, and I think that the media has an important role in raising awareness about climate change.” - Mirna, NAWA Media Newsroom student.
The NAWA Media Newsroom was launched in 2017, providing training for a team of journalism students from the Lebanese University in Beirut. In 2020, new students joined from Syria, Yemen and Egypt, followed by a new cohort of students from Palestine and Sudan in 2021.
This climate misinformation report concluded that the sudden increase in coverage due to COP27, coupled with a lack of editorial standards and expertise in climate issues, led to an increase in misinformation.
Read and download the students’ report on NAWA Media’s website in Arabic.
- Online conversations are heavily influenced by news coverage, like the 2022 Supreme Court decision on abortion. The relationship is less clear between big breaking news and specific increases in online misinformation.
- The tweets analyzed were a random sample qualitatively coded as “misinformation” or “not misinformation” by two qualitative coders trained in public health and internet studies.
- This method used Twitter’s historical search API
- The peak was a significant outlier compared to days before it using Grubbs' test for outliers for Chemical Abortion (p<0.2 for the decision; p<0.003 for the leak) and Herbal Abortion (p<0.001 for the decision and leak).
- All our searches were case insensitive and could match substrings; so, “revers” matches “reverse”, “reversal”, etc.