Susan Benkelman

Susan is the former 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: Will Trump’s example change how politicians handle the truth?

As the Trump era comes to a close, a big question for fact-checkers and other journalists covering the next administration is whether his mendacity has diluted the standard of truthfulness that we can expect from American leaders. Will fact-checkers call politicians on their falsehoods only to hear them repeated again and again? Has President Trump […]

Factually: Minding the knowledge gap on COVID-19 vaccine

Last week, Facebook announced it would be taking a more proactive role in fighting COVID-19 vaccine misinformation in an effort to support public health efforts to address the global pandemic. However, in an interview with NPR’s “All Things Considered,” First Draft co-founder and U.S. director Claire Wardle argued that much of the misinformation about the pandemic response may fly […]

Factually: Fact-checking the next president

One of the most revealing moments in American fact-checking in 2020 occurred in September when CNN’s Daniel Dale was asked about President Donald Trump’s claim on Fox News that Joe Biden’s campaign was run by people “in the dark shadows.” Dale just shook his head. “It’s almost too stupid to fact-check,” he told his CNN colleague […]

Factually: Global fact-checkers find strength in numbers

Fact-checking is a form of journalism, and journalism is, at heart, a competitive sport. But when faced with this year’s dual fire hoses of political and COVID-19 misinformation, fact-checkers have had little choice but to work together. The Paris Peace Forum, a yearly gathering of world leaders and nongovernmental organizations working to solve global problems, highlighted […]

Factually: The next COVID-19 misinformation wave

Pfizer’s announcement this week that it had a 90% effective vaccine against COVID-19 provided a glimpse of the wave of mis- and disinformation that could engulf any effort to bring about broad distribution – and acceptance – of such a vaccine. The announcement itself was the subject of a conspiracy theory: that it came out […]

Factually: The wait for final results gives misinformers an opening

This tweet from Factually’s founding father, former IFCN director Alexios Mantzarlis, sums it up perfectly — the longer we go without a definitive presidential election winner, the greater the opportunity there is for misinformation. Nowhere is that phenomenon clearer than in Pennsylvania, a swing state whose results are expected to take longer than most. As New York […]

Factually: Turning human error into election ‘fraud’

Humans make mistakes, and this year’s election – run by humans – will bring plenty of them. Poll workers are managing the vote during a pandemic. Laws are changing, sometimes late in the game because of court rulings. A greater number of people are voting by mail. And with the inevitable mistakes comes a whole […]

13 tips for covering likely election scenarios

American elections are highly decentralized, with local and state laws and processes governing election administration in more than 10,000 jurisdictions across the country. As in elections past, issues will pop up in some jurisdictions and not in others. It’s critical for journalists to understand what those issues might be, how the misinformation ecosystem will accelerate […]

5 guideposts for thoughtfully covering the voting

This year’s election will have problems, and journalists need to handle them with care. Here are five guideposts for doing so. Elections are the highest of journalism’s high-wire acts. Everyone’s paying attention, and mistakes can be devastating. This year, that pressure is intensified. Election administrators are under stress because of the COVID-19 pandemic, changing laws […]

Factually: The power of simple hoaxes

Amid all the discussion over coordinated disinformation campaigns from both foreign and domestic actors aimed at this year’s elections, a fake email in Iowa reminds us that falsehoods don’t really need to be that complicated. After an Oct. 15 debate between incumbent Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst and her Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield, critics pounced on […]