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: 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 […]

Nine lessons from Wisconsin’s chaotic spring election

Wisconsin’s election on April 7 was a test of how a democracy functions in a pandemic.  Democracy held on, but at a price. The election offered a window into the logistical challenges of trying to forge ahead with voting at a time of social distancing, and it was a closely watched battleground in the larger […]

Factually: Tools for a shifting debate

While governments say they are relying on science to keep the public safe, they are also watching sales and income taxes plummet and groups of protesters demand more freedom. This week we’ve seen examples of how governments are trying to balance those competing pressures. President Donald Trump announced in a tweet Wednesday that the White House Coronavirus […]

Factually: Truth-tellers in white coats

When Brad Pitt played Dr. Anthony Fauci on Saturday Night Live this past weekend, the “doctor” promised that as long as he isn’t fired, he would “be out there puttin’ out the facts for whoever’s listening.” The parody contained a biting truth: These days medical professionals are often default fact-checkers to politicians. Fauci is in a class […]

Factually: Here are some harmful COVID-19 hoaxes

Desperate for protection against COVID-19, some people are acting on dangerous misinformation they’ve found online. Fact-checkers need help sharing the articles that debunk the most life-threatening hoaxes. And all authorities should get involved too. In Tunisia and other Arabic-speaking countries, and in North Macedonia and Greece, the dangerous idea of gargling with Betadine — a topical antiseptic […]

Covering the campaign during coronavirus: What journalists need to know

This is the second in a series of articles aimed at helping local news leaders and experts address misinformation and election integrity issues in the lead-up to November. The first, here, covered how news organizations can be transparent with audiences about fighting election-related misinformation.  Seven months before Election Day, the coronavirus has pushed the 2020 […]

Factually: Spain’s fact-checkers become a target

Sometimes it feels like the phrase “no good deed goes unpunished” was invented with fact-checkers in mind. This week, it applies to the ones in Spain. Not long after WhatsApp decided to limit message-forwarding in an effort to stem the spread of misinformation, supporters of Spain’s right-wing Vox party started a campaign of digital harassment […]

Factually: A game called ‘Truth or Dare the Platform’

Last fall, then-presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren ran an ad on Facebook falsely claiming that the tech giant’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, had endorsed President Donald Trump for re-election. It was an obvious stunt. Anyone paying attention knew Zuckerberg hadn’t endorsed Trump. Warren, a fierce critic of Facebook, wanted to call attention to the […]

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 […]