Susan Benkelman

Susan is the Director of Accountability Journalism at API.

Susan joined API in November 2018 to lead its project to improve and expand accountability journalism. Before joining API, Susan worked for five years as a news editor in the Washington bureau of the Wall Street Journal. Previously she was the editorial director at CQ-Roll Call, holding the top newsroom job at the company formed by the merger of Roll Call and Congressional Quarterly, where she spent 15 years as an editor. Previously, Susan was been a reporter at Newsday in Washington, New York and Moscow, and before that was in the Washington and Lansing bureaus for the Detroit News. Originally from Michigan, she holds a degree in Journalism from Michigan State University.

Factually: Coronavirus deniers spread a deadly message

The coronavirus has killed more than 20,800 worldwide, and still there are people denying it exists. These are people who, ignoring not only facts but also others’ grief, find time (probably during their quarantine) to push disinformation online about COVID-19. From a fact-checkers’ perspective – and also from a humanitarian point of view – I would suggest […]

Factually: The power of rumors in a fast-moving crisis

Once President Donald Trump declared on Friday that he would use a federal law known as the Stafford Act as the basis for an emergency declaration to assist states with their coronavirus response, it wasn’t long before misinformation started circulating on social media and in text messages. The law essentially allows federal resources to flow to […]

Election 2020: The role of local news in honest elections

Voters get information about candidates, issues and the mechanics of their elections from an increasingly vast media ecosystem that includes conventional media, partisan media, social media and even outright “fake news” sites. As contradictory messages proliferate, it can be hard for people to know what, exactly, is true. What should legitimate news outlets do in […]

Factually: What happens when a fact-checker is in quarantine

On Tuesday, at 9 p.m., those who attended the latest NICAR conference — the annual data journalism summit held in New Orleans — received an email from the Investigative Reporters & Editors group with an alert that one of the participants had tested positive for the 2019 coronavirus. From that moment on, I and about 1,000 other data journalists […]

Factually: The difficult choices in coronavirus reporting 

News organizations are tracking coronavirus cases as they are confirmed. But what happens when there are suspected cases? Should they be reported too? On the one hand, reporting cases that are suspected but not confirmed could perform a necessary public service for audiences who might have read about the cases on social media or wonder why a school […]

Factually: What exactly was that Bloomberg video?

U.S. presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg’s recent campaign video portraying other Democratic candidates as dazed and confused in response to a question he posed during last week’s Las Vegas debate generated considerable discussion in the misinformation and media worlds. The video wasn’t a fake, exactly, but it was edited in a misleading way. The imagery in the footage […]

Factually: Fact-checking on coronavirus far exceeds that of Zika

A recent study published by Science Advances raises an interesting question: when it comes to health information, do “interventions aimed at combating false and unsupported information really work?” Researchers from Dartmouth College, IE University in Spain and other institutions studied how Brazilians responded to corrective information about outbreaks of the Zika virus and yellow fever in recent […]

Factually: The cynical lure of fake screenshots

The surge of misinformation accompanying the coronavirus outbreak has included several cases in which people have been deceived by fake screenshots. In one case, people circulated a manipulated screenshot of a disease tracker from the Chinese tech company Tencent with death toll numbers significantly higher than the official ones. The number purported to have captured the accidental […]

Factually: A busy week tests U.S. fact-checkers

It was one of the busiest weeks for American politics in recent memory. On Sunday, President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg aired dueling ads during the Super Bowl. Monday was the Iowa caucuses, which kicked off the primary election season (as of this writing, we still don’t have all of the results). On Tuesday, Trump delivered the annual […]

Factually: Fact-checkers band together on coronavirus

Three weeks ago, China officially reported the first death caused by the 2019 coronavirus. But since then there has been a distinct lack of quality data from the Chinese government about the origins of the new disease and the official steps authorities are taking to find a cure for it. The information void has led to widespread […]