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The BBC’s Marianna Spring: ‘The more violent the rhetoric, the more important it is I expose it’

The broadcaster’s disinformation and social media correspondent spends her time pursuing trolls and dismantling conspiracy theories. In return she is abused, slandered, threatened. She talks about battling cranks, extremists – and Elon Musk


The fact that the Guardian has an online abuse tag in its CMS to run this story against is depressing enough. That it’s the BBC’s disinformation and social media correspondent featured somehow makes it worse. Call me old fashioned, but the BBC is still part of what makes this country better.

The Guardian’s Zoe Williams leads the piece by describing graffiti she encountered at the BBC’s Broadcasting House HQ. It read “BBC Covid Liars” and had previously been accompanied by posters featuring Spring’s face. “I don’t like the way that the huge volume of online abuse spills over into offline action,” the BBC reporter told Williams.

The piece is mostly about how Spring is the voice of reason among the misogynistic headcases that target her. I came away from it with an even deeper admiration for her dedication and integrity. Unfortunately I also came away despairing for a society that has people in it that can dole out such abuse for people simply trying to do their jobs.


If the big corporate publishers disappeared so would much local news investment

Reach chief digital publisher David Higgerson explains why big publishers are needed to help secure the future of local journalism.

On Monday I led with a Press Gazette piece by former editor Michael Gilson on how corporate publishers were getting in the way of local news innovation. Actually, says David Higgerson of Reach, it’s the biggest players that are keeping local news afloat. “There is precious little evidence that the public at large are actively pursuing public interest journalism, on a scale and frequency which would sustain it on its own for the long-term,” he writes. Or, just a thought, maybe the evidence is hidden by all those pop-ups.


Social media’s stumble is great for journalism innovation

With search and social media changing faster than ever before, it’s time for audience teams to get out of their comfort zone, and start experimenting.

Cheer up everyone. Adam Tinworth says any rumour’s of the death of his career teaching SEO and social networks have been greatly exaggerated. “Audience is, and always has been, bigger than just those two, and their changes open up new opportunities that, for me at least, make my work more exciting, not less.” Go Adam!


How The Daily Tar Heel designed the front page everyone is talking about

The student newspaper released a front page with messages sent to and from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill students in lockdown.

After a campus lockdown and a fatal shooting at the University of North Carolina, the student journalists at The Daily Tar Heel newspaper decided to run the phone messages they had received throughout the incident. Poynter interviewed the team involved in putting it together, with general manager Mitchell saying she doesn’t think a photograph would have been as compelling. She’s right.

More from Media Voices


The BBC’s Specialist Disinformation Reporter Marianna Spring on proactively countering conspiracies

In this episode, the BBC’s Specialist Disinformation Reporter Marianna Spring takes us through the responsibilities of broadcasters to counter disinformation, and more.


Newspaper ABCS: reinterpreting the purpose of print

Our vanity is tickled when we see our names in print, but is pride causing the industry to cling to print when it would be better off going digital-only?


Why diversity, equity and inclusion is an everyone issue

Project 23 co-founder Gary Rayneau says it’s time diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives were subject to the same rigour as any other business strategy.

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