Statement on the attempted assassination of former President Trump and the mis- and disinformation in its aftermath:

At the News Literacy Project, we join others in America deeply troubled by the attempt on former President Donald Trump’s life on July 13.  While thankful that he was not seriously injured, we extend our condolences to the family of Corey Comperatore, a firefighter, father and husband who lost his life. We also send our wishes for a swift and full recovery to the two other men who were injured in the shooting. Political violence should hold no place in our democratic process and civic discourse.

Immediately after the shooting, rumors and unverified claims emanated from across the political spectrum and spread rapidly online. In breaking news situations, the facts constantly evolve during the hours that follow, and even in the days and weeks after. We should avoid the temptation to propagate opinions that could further fuel false and unverified claims, expand the reach of propaganda and hate speech, and potentially lead to further violence. We all are susceptible to confirmation bias because many of us live in media echo chambers that reinforce our beliefs and leave us blind to new facts that can put an event in context and improve our understanding of it.

For helpful resources on how to evaluate breaking news, avoid confirmation bias and understand conspiratorial thinking, follow our social media channels and visit our website, where we provide additional resources to help promote informed news consumption and empower you to combat the spread of harmful falsehoods.

Finding water in a news desert: Tips from three experts

Ellie Blanchard

Americans in 203 counties don’t have a local news outlet, recent research shows. During election season, a lack of local news presents a challenge to voters looking for vital information about ballot initiatives and candidates running for office.

As information becomes harder to find, especially in rural areas, the News Literacy Project convened three experts to share tips for finding reliable news before heading to the polls.  For more ways to find credible election news, check out our elections resource hub.

💦 Sweat the details

To avoid being fooled by bad actors masquerading as local officials, learn to recognize legitimate election information that you find in your mailbox or online. Brianna Lennon, county clerk for Boone County, Missouri,  advised looking for clues that a source is legitimate, like an official election mail insignia or a web address that ends in .gov.

“In terms of finding out what’s on the ballot, the actual government website and the mail are the two biggest ways that people are going to find it.”
— Brianna Lennon

💡 Take responsibility

If your area lacks news coverage on local issues, turn to trusted community leaders to better understand candidate positions, suggested Benjy Hamm, director of the University of Kentucky’s Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues. “I call friends who deal with the court system… I talk to teachers about school board members,” he said. While this is a good starting point for getting information, be aware of biases and be sure to consult multiple sources.

“There is a responsibility to vote, but there’s a greater responsibility to be an informed voter.”
—Benjy Hamm

🤔 Think like a journalist

Without a formal voter guide from a local news outlet, you can operate like a journalist yourself to find important information. Alana Rocha, editor of the Rural News Network, encourages all voters to think critically when they see promotional flyers or texts. Seek news from a variety of sources and confirm claims by visiting candidates’ platforms directly.

“Diversify your sources. Go to the person’s website to see what they have to say.”
— Alana Rocha

Vetting election information: How service members, veterans and military families can get credible voting information

Virtual panel discussion
7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT Tuesday, May 21

As the 2024 election season is underway, falsehoods about voting and ballot issues already are circulating widely. Bad actors exploit a charged political atmosphere by spreading false claims about candidates, disinformation about how to vote and baseless rumors that undermine trust in election systems and infrastructure.

Military service members, veterans and their families in particular encounter conspiracy theories and other types of mis-and disinformation frequently. In a recent poll of Military Times readers, 57% said  they personally have been targeted.

To break through this confusing and often misleading information landscape, the News Literacy Project is hosting a panel of experts who work with the military community for a virtual discussion about common types of election-related misinformation and practical tips and tools for finding reliable news sources before voting.

About the panelists

Richard Brookshire is the CEO and co-founder of the Black Veterans Project, which advances reforms to address racial inequalities in veterans benefits and advocates for reparations. He is a former infantry combat medic and Army veteran. He also is a creative producer of the film Just Call Me Lucki, which is about the first Black woman to graduate from the U.S. Army’s Intelligence School.
Joe Plenzler is a Marine Corps veteran and a board member and communications advisor for We the Veterans and Military Families. He has served as a poll worker as part of the organization’s Vet the Vote program, which encourages military veterans and families to continue serving their country as election volunteers.
Nikki Wentling covers disinformation and extremism for Military Times as a Military Veterans in Journalism Fellow. She has reported on veterans and military communities for eight years and has also covered technology and politics.
Scott Wiedmann is the director of the Federal Voting Assistance Program, which administers federal responsibilities of the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act. He has been with the program, which is part of the U.S. Department of Defense, since 1993.

About the moderator

Zack Baddorf is a Navy veteran, journalist and co-founder of Military Veterans in Journalism, which seeks to get more military veterans working in America’s newsrooms. He has more than 15 years of reporting experience from more than 30 countries and has had his work published in the New York Times, Washington Post, BBC, Reuters and more.

Finding water in a news desert
Preparing for elections when news coverage is scarce

Virtual panel discussion
6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT Wednesday, April 24

When local news coverage is scarce, how do you find out what’s on the ballot in your community? As legacy news sources struggle – especially in rural areas – information becomes harder to find, and it can feel especially fraught as we prepare to vote. Meanwhile, pink-slime news outfits, which masquerade as local news sources but are funded by political partisans, and social media rumor mills are popping up to fill the void left by downsized or shuttered local news outlets.

Even with these challenges there are still ways you can be informed about ballot initiatives and candidates running for office – including reports on their spending and where they stand on the issues.

The News Literacy Project has invited three experts – Benjy Hamm, director of the University of Kentucky’s Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues; Alana Rocha, editor of the Rural News Network; and Brianna Lennon, county clerk for Boone County, Missouri and co-host of the podcast High Turnout Wide Margins – to walk us through how people living in news deserts can prepare to vote in 2024. We’ll talk about obstacles to finding credible information, as well as tools you can use to investigate the who, what, when, where, why and how of the 2024 elections.

About the panelists

Benjy Hamm headshot
Benjy Hamm is the director of the University of Kentucky’s Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, which researches trends, issues and ideas in rural journalism and gives advice and workshops for professionals. Hamm is a veteran newspaper editor, having led news operations for Landmark Community Newspapers in Shelbyville, Kentucky, as well as the Herald-Journal and the Lancaster News, both in South Carolina.
Alana Rocha headshot
Alana Rocha leads the Rural News Network, a resource hub for newsrooms who are members of the Institute for Nonprofit News. Rocha works with 70 network outlets in 46 states to amplify coverage from rural areas. She was a longtime news and politics journalist in Florida, Kansas and Texas.
Brianna Lennon headshot
Brianna Lennon is the county clerk for Boone County, Missouri. Before she was elected to that office in 2018, she served in the Missouri Attorney General’s Office and also was deputy director of elections in the Missouri Secretary of State’s Election Integrity Unit. She co-hosts the award-winning podcast High Turnout Wide Margins, which covers issues for election administrators and gives insight into election processes for voters.

About the moderator

Hannah Covington headshot
Hannah Covington is the News Literacy Project’s senior director of education content and hosts the video series News Goggles, which provides a behind-the-scenes look at news coverage and journalists’ work. As a journalist, Hannah covered local government and breaking news at the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune. She has also written for the Tulsa World and The Oklahoman. Previously, she was an adjunct instructor, working with high school and undergraduate students at Tulsa Community College and the University of Tulsa.

Learn to identify credible election information in this free webinar Feb. 29, presented by the nonpartisan News Literacy Project.

Are you informed or influenced?

Boost Your News IQ with free webinars from the News Literacy Project.

As we navigate the 2024 election, are we being informed or influenced?

This webinar will teach skills for identifying credible election information. We will learn how to evaluate the purpose of the information sources share, how to identify election misinformation trends and bias and how to prioritize finding credible sources.