The COVID-19 Vaccine Counter-Misinformation Open Fund has been announced which is intended to support journalistic efforts to effectively fact-check misinformation about the COVID-19 immunization process, with a concentration on projects that aim to reach audiences underserved by fact-checking or targeted by misinformation.
The uncertainty and developing nature of the health crisis provoked by the novel coronavirus has made providing accurate, evidence-based journalism more essential than ever.
Priority will be given to collaborative projects (e.g. multiple news organizations/entities working together) and that are interdisciplinary in nature (e.g. involve journalists working alongside epidemiologists or immunologists).
- The Fund will make up to USD $3,000,000 available for projects which demonstrate a clear potential to provide effective corrective tools and content to counterbalance COVID-19 vaccine misinformation.
- Google will fund selected projects up to USD $1,000,000 each, covering up to 80% of the total overall budget of the project.
- Applicants cannot ask for an amount higher than 50% of their annual total income (Please note, this should reflect the combined annual income of partners for collaborative projects and include revenue generated as well as donations, philanthropy support, etc).
- The COVID-19 Vaccine Counter-Misinformation Open Fund is open to news organizations of every size, both for-profit and nonprofit, publishing on any medium (digital, print, video, etc) that aims to produce original journalistic content. Applicants can be individual organizations or coalitions of publishers, both formal and informal.
- All applicants should have a proven track record in fact-checking and debunking activities or partner with an organization with such recognition. Evidence that third parties recognize the organization as a fact-checker will be required in the application, with a membership of the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) being the most prominent.
- Examples of projects that would not qualify:
- A project that aims to publish explainers about the COVID-19 vaccine and the immunization process without tackling misinformation directly.
- An existing debunking project that will use the funding to either exclusively cover existing or incremental staffing costs, or exclusively to grow its social media reach through paid ads.
- A project that plans to publish fact checks but has no team member with a track record of doing so. They encourage projects without prior experience that are eager to apply to seek a partner publisher with a background in fact-checking, starting from verified signatories of the IFCN.
- A project that aims to collect data about COVID-19 misinformation and the effect of fact-checking for the primary purpose of publishing an academic paper. Research can be a component of eligible projects but not its primary goal.
- A project that is not predominantly about COVID-19 immunization misinformation.
- Projects that do not include in their team an individual or organization that has ever published a fact check or article debunking misinformation are not eligible.
- Projects that are run by a government institution are not eligible to apply. Public health experts with ties to government institutions can be part of the project team but not the lead applicants.
- Academic projects whose sole goal is to conduct and publish research about anti-vaccine misinformation are not eligible.
- Projects with ties to producers of COVID-19 vaccines are also ineligible.
Projects will be evaluated against seven main criteria.
- Impact assessment framework: The project has presented a clear methodology of how it will assess the effect of the fact checks it publishes. Specifically, are fact checks clarifying misconceptions that readers had rather than re-affirming something they already knew? How is the fact check affecting the reach of the related misinformation? How is the impact different from what would have been possible without funding? The framework must have both qualitative and quantitative elements.
- Expected reach: The project is specific about the reach it expects to have and how it plans to get to those audience figures.
- Underserved audiences strategy: The project is clear about how it intends to reach audiences that are typically underserved by fact checks or disproportionately affected by misinformation.
- Expertise: The project has a proven track record in fact-checking / debunking and includes public health/immunization experts.
- Collaboration: The project is more likely to be considered for funding if it is interdisciplinary in nature (e.g. involve journalists working alongside epidemiologists or immunologists) and if a collaborative approach is taken (e.g. multiple news organizations/entities working together).
- Innovation: The project introduces a new format, methodology, structure, or distribution mechanism that has never or rarely ever been attempted before at this scale.
- Feasibility and urgency: The project can start almost immediately so as to reach audiences around the world while they are directly affected by the COVID-19 immunization process and related misinformation.
How To Apply
- They will consider applications written in English only.
- You will be asked to provide descriptions, detailed project plans, and budget information in their online application form as well as accept the COVID-19 Vaccine Counter-Misinformation Open Fund Application Terms and Conditions.
For more information, visit https://newsinitiative.withgoogle.com/intl/en_gb/covid-vaccine-counter-misinfo-fund/