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: Fact-checking a moving target

Over the weekend, The New York Times reported on a debate between 239 medical doctors and the World Health Organization over whether aerosolized droplets spread COVID-19. The disagreement echoes an earlier debate in the medical community over whether the public should abstain from taking ibuprofen to protect themselves from the novel coronavirus. COVID-19 is a fast-moving story. Information is […]

Factually: Officials confront COVID-19 vaccine resistance

Last month, FactCheck.org debunked a meme, still floating around on Facebook, that had a couple of made-up quotes attributed to the U.S. government’s top infectious disease official. It was called “The two faces of Dr. Anthony Fauci.” The first quote falsely had him saying that “even though hundreds of doctors” have cured people with the drug hydroxychloroquine, […]

The primaries so far: Are states ready for November?

The 2020 primaries so far in states like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania have shown a lack of readiness for voting in a pandemic. Many states are, at the same time, implementing new rules or laws, meaning voters and elections officials were already dealing with change before the health crisis hit. Journalists, advocates and policymakers are all […]

Factually: Global Fact 7 Update

We’re halfway through (virtual) Global Fact 7, which was initially slated for three days this week in Oslo, Norway. But like all things, COVID-19 changed that. So the world’s fact-checkers are spending five days talking shop and talking about the future from wherever a stable internet connection can be found. This year’s conference features over 150 […]

Factually: Who should police online speech?

A new survey from the Knight Foundation and Gallup found that a majority of Americans (65%) want the internet to be a place of free expression. But eight in 10 people said they don’t trust big tech companies to make the right decisions about what content appears on their sites, and what should be removed. At the […]

Factually: A review of the evidence

What role does “the media” play in the spread of misinformation? A literature review published last month in the Annals of the International Communication Association tried to answer that question. Looking at previously published studies, the piece argues many “fake news sites” wouldn’t get much traction without the attention of more mainstream outlets. The authors define fake […]

Factually: Helping people fact-check on their own

Fact-checkers and other journalists who work to debunk misinformation spend most of their time arming people with the facts. In recent weeks, we’ve also seen them arm people with strategies to root out the falsehoods on their own. The “infodemic” surrounding COVID-19 had already pushed fact-checkers to capacity. The killing of George Floyd while in […]

Factually: Why Twitter’s ‘get the facts’ label matters

For the first time, Twitter this week flagged two tweets from the president of the United States. It didn’t choose the tweets that had attracted the most attention in Tuesday morning’s barrage from the White House (those would be the ones about Joe Scarborough). Nor was Twitter’s label particularly bold. “Get the facts about mail-in ballots,” read the blue label […]

Factually: Perceiving the curve

Presentation matters when it comes to representing the scope of coronavirus cases. A study published by the London School of Economics shows one type of graphic representation could be creating confusion. A research team made up of academics from the LSE and Yale University found that logarithmic graphs used to show the curve of COVID-19 infections can confuse […]

Factually: Seven angles on a conspiracy theory

How do you cover a conspiracy theory? Journalists who write about misinformation know that the trick is to debunk the falsehoods without amplifying them or generating any suggestion of legitimacy. Context is critical, as is an exploration of potential harms for believers. The pseudoscience-ridden, conspiracy-driven “Plandemic” video, which contains a number of baseless theories about […]