Project summary

Since the beginning of the COVID 19 sanitary crisis, the WHO has been warning against the parallel spread of an “infodemic”, implying that there is abundance of information, some of which is not accurate. While fake news and disinformation are always a challenge, during times of crisis like the present one their effects may be even more disastrous than usual and lead to serious damage, including increased loss of human lives. Therefore, it is imperative to raise awareness and counter them by implementing a set of policy measures that will target policy makers, civil society, traditional and social media, as well as the public at large. This project proposal aims to contribute to that objective by focusing on the media landscape in North Macedonia.
Some of the false narratives identified at the global level have been present in a “localized” form in North Macedonia, stirring a public debate and provoking various reactions. They include malicious allegations that the virus originated in a lab in the USA or in Italy and not in Wuhan, China; that the response by the EU, USA and other Western countries has been inadequate and that they did not provide assistance to the country, etc. The project’s overall objective is to contribute to a more informed public debate related to COVID 19 in North Macedonia by debunking disinformation. The specific objectives include:
- to identify the false narratives in the media and social media landscape;
- to provide recommendations for building a continuous approach to the fight against disinformation;
- to inform/train/engage 4 identified target groups to recognize and/or counter disinformation and false narratives (policy makers, journalists and media workers, civil society representatives, academia).
The activities designed to achieve these objectives are organized into two components:
- Analysis of traditional media articles and social media activity in the period between March and September 2020, focusing on content related to COVID 19 which includes distorted narratives. The findings will be included in a report, along with recommendations targeting public authorities and other relevant stakeholders who are already familiar with the issue of disinformation and fake news (media, civil society etc.)
- Visibility campaign to raise awareness about the false narratives, provide basic training and establish policy dialogue through:
Expert panel discussion
Capacity building workshops for civil society and media
Presentation of the findings and discussion with media associations
Publication and dissemination of an academic blog

Implementation period: September 2020 - March 2021
The project is supported by the US State Department’s Global Engagement Center and the US Embassy in Skopje.

The study Foreign Influence Operations: Analysis of the COVID-19 pandemic in North Macedonia prepared within the framework of this project can be found at the following links in English and Macedonian.

Three infographics were prepared on :  The origin of the virus, China's handling of the pandemic and China's assitance

For more info available in EN/CN/MK/FR please 
contact us.

Photo credit: Clay Banks at Unsplash.