October 10, 2018; Poynter
A new operation called FemFacts has been launched in Europe to challenge media outlets on their false narratives about women.
The project was initiated by NewsMavens, and its editorial lead, Tijana Cvjetićanin, says it was “envisioned as a way to counterbalance the dominant male perspective in editorial boards across Europe…even if women make a huge part of the journalism workforce, they’re very underrepresented in the editorial boards.”
NewsMavens’ editor-in-chief Zuzanna Ziomecka recruited Cvjetićanin to the effort, which is aimed at debunking false and misleading representations of women that appear in the media.
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But the conception of the project is more robust than mere fact-checking.
“We’re not just going to track false news, but also try to have a more nuanced approach to finding stuff like manipulated presentation of facts: misinformation that’s not false, but skewed,” Cvjetićanin says. “It has something that—I wouldn’t call it bias—but a certain standpoint where it starts from, which is that women and men are equal and you should not work against that premise.”
The plan is that project will grow to include checks on the narratives about LGBTQ people, refugees, and other marginalized groups. “Every marginalized group is basically a target of some kind of misinformation. We also want to take that into consideration within this project,” Cvjetićanin says. “I imagine that a lot of marginalized groups, like transgender, gay and lesbians, are going to appear a lot in our articles as well. Anti-feminist backlash is connected to these agendas—it kind of intersects with racism as well.”
FemFacts joins the Colombia-based El Poder de Elegir (the power to choose) in this new field of work. El Poder de Elegir is also associated with a parent organization in the nonprofit Chicas Poderosas (Powerful Girls). Mariana Santos, the former Guardian columnist who started Chicas Poderosas, did so under a Knight Fellowship at the International Center For Journalists.
The idea of narrative-busting using skilled women journalists is terribly exciting. These will be important efforts to keep an eye on.—Ruth McCambridge