Overcoming Misinformation & Disinformation in Journalism
Role: UX Researcher
How might we help journalists self-reflect on social media activities and guide them in becoming resilient against misinformation & disinformation?
In today’s online environment, journalists deal with an evolving landscape of information available through new and social medias, requiring them to process, analyze and visualize large amounts of data. Journalists also need to deal with the presence of media manipulation, the artificial amplification of certain issues in order to get journalists to cover them. In order to help combat these issues, HCI can help study journalists’ work and provide tools and techniques to better enable them to work in this type of environment.
Aim
To better understand what challenges journalists face when using data, what tools have been developed to combat those challenges, and how those tools can be improved upon. Examining current practices, conducting interviews, and analyzing the data to formulate the needs of the journalists and designs that could help reach their goals.
Experience
I came into this directed research group as someone who has had basic understanding in the world of misinformation and disinformation. Being an engineer, qualitative methods were really new and foreign to me. Just like many engineers, I wanted to start building a tool and gather a few assumptions and extrapolate what I thought they need and build it. The problem with this (and the reason that Human Centered Design exists) is because there is a lot more nuance to how people do their work. After spending the quarter interviewing journalists, transcribing, making memos and analyzing their requirements I feel like I have a better idea of what their experience studying this kind of work is.  

During this journey I’ve grown to respect this process. Learning how journalists require us to add on to the process but at the same time not take back what they have been doing for years was important. I think the research performed will make our eventual product or proposed solution in the future more valuable and meaningful to those who would actually use it.
Questions asked during interviews
Pain Points
Tool Recommendations
A plausible design solution
Most journalists in the field today have desired for a unified medium or communication channel via which they can connect with other journalists and academia. The following method of building an online community solidifies to bridge the gap between them and academia and gives a one stop solution for having online courses in media manipulation, disinformation, misinformation and as a platform where the online trends can be discussed and events related to journalism can be posted.
Quotes or Evidence in Support of this Design
“speak to data journalists and have a different approach, tools, and abilities and other professionals to better collaborate, share ideas and strategies” - P10

“Collaboration with academics - immensely helpful because of the new lens and perspective it offers” - P6

“only 18% newsrooms are trained for looking for media manipulation” - P4

“A forum where journalists can connect and communicate with academics for tracing and accountability, possibly a resource with links to literature and studies and build a Library which everyone could refer to” - P6
Potential Drawbacks of the Design
The following option has no mechanism by which bad actors will be prevented from creating fake accounts which do look authentic hence if a two stage authentication process is integrated into the system which could differentiate good and bad actors it will resolve the issue at hand.
Dependencies
The following community will be a web based application which is similar to medium where journalists can share their work. Features like an online chat system like slack can also be added to the webapp for journalists to communicate with one another hence this will turn out to be a one stop solution for them. This will be one platform for sharing resources related to journalism. The platform will be built by a web developer someone who has appropriate knowledge in HTML, CSS, javascript and angular. A backend developer is needed as well. Along with the developers UX researchers and designers will be needed as well to perform the user centered design process to build the webapp - wireframes based on the research and user requirements, also to prepare  the design document which will be handed over to the development team. The implementation of the same is realistic since its building a web community similar to medium which has already been implemented.
Recommendation
"Mrunmayee is a reliable teammate and innovative thinker. She was a participant in my Directed Research Group at the University of Washington. Her contributions helped the group make meaningful strides in collecting and analyzing a large amount of information. She brought varied and valuable insights to the table, especially as we ideated on potential solutions for our target user. I would be happy to work with her again on projects in the future." - Melinda McClure Haughey
Let’s Connect!
MP
Made by Mrunmayee Patil
2020