Foundation Awards $1.2 Million to Colleges, Nonprofits to Combat Disinformation in Communities of Color

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The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation recently announced that it is awarding more than $1.2 million in grants to nine universities and nonprofit organizations working to expose and mitigate the impact of disinformation on communities of color. 

The foundation, which specializes in supporting journalism, communities, and the arts, previously issued a call for proposals that “advance independent scholarship, partnerships, tools, and interventions to combat disinformation,” a press release states. The winning projects represent a wide range of partnerships and research endeavors that address a variety of pressing issues for underserved ethnic and racial groups. Specific topics include Chinese-language news in the U.S., the targeting of Latinx voters in the 2022 election, and the spread of misinformation regarding the COVID-19 vaccine in marginalized communities. 

“Recent scholarship shows that communities of color are often targeted to discourage participation in our country’s civic and political life,” John Sands, senior director of Media and Democracy, stated in the release. “This challenge isn’t going away, but projects like these show promising paths forward. They leverage community relationships and expertise to test and better understand the mechanisms that build resilience to disinformation.”

The selected projects will become part of the Knight Research Network, which connects experts and scholars who study the role of digital media in modern society. The foundation has committed more than $50 million since 2019 “for independent research and policy insight that can improve the quality of information online and foster informed engagement in the democratic process,” according to its website. 

The research projects to be funded include the following:

  • Florida International University and the Miami Herald – “Miami Latinos Misled: How Political Interests Seek to Sway 2022 Elections”
  • Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health – “Building Vaccine Disinformation Resilience in Partnership with Latino Social Media Influencers”
  • MediaJustice – “Resourcing Communities of Color to Combat Disinformation”
  • Santa Clara University – “Chinese Language News Discussion Repository”
  • Syracuse University S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications – “Co-Producing Disinformation Interventions on Syracuse’s South Side”
  • Texas Tech University – “Pulpit, Publics, and Practitioners: Combating COVID-19 Mis- and Disinformation in Hispanic Communities Across the South Plains of Texas”
  • University of Minnesota – “Trusted Messengers Can Leverage Connections to Combat Disinformation About Black Communities in Black Communities”
  • The University of Texas at Austin and Rutgers University – “Addressing Disinformation Campaigns Against Diaspora Communities on Encrypted Messaging Applications”

This article was published in our June 2022 issue.