First Draft in Florida – Infotheque 2020 recap; news & insights

First Draft’s first virtual event — Infotheque 2020 — was designed to help prepare us all for the avalanche of election misinformation that is coming our way from now through November 3rd.

It was an eye-opening three-days and a lot of fun. A big thank-you goes out to all who were able to attend one or more of the sessions. For those who weren’t able to attend, no worries, you can watch all the sessions here.

Dear FPA members,

As First Draft’s Florida fellow, I was most excited about the breakout session that drew dozens of you that were interested in Florida-specific election misinformation.

We talked about monitoring, tracking and surfacing misinformation and online commentary — and debuted our newly published document full of research from all five of First Draft’s reporting fellows in Florida, Colorado, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin.

We collected dozens of examples of information disorder playing out via private Facebook groups, text messages and other platforms and compiled the research into individual case studies.

You can access the full “Misinformation in your backyard” report here.

There were many other notable takeaways from the three-day lineup. Here’s a selection.

During the opening keynote, civil rights attorney Vanita Gupta stressed that reporters should remember that secretaries of state all run their own elections, and they need to be given time to count their ballots on election day. She said the impulse to announce election results as breaking news will be strong, but journalists should avoid making over-estimates based on in-person votes.

ProPublica’s excellent Electionland project made several key election coverage points. Here are a few.

  • Learn how your local election system works and show voters the thought process behind it.
  • Explain to voters how mail-in ballots are processed.
  • Explain ballot tracking to audiences. It can boost voter confidence.
  • Consider publishing story templates of top spenders by candidate or unknown spenders.
  • Learn how to extract information about federal election candidates through their ads.
  • Learn how Ad Observatory, OpenSecrets and DarkMoney can help while investigating.

Ways to stay up-to-date and connected

Join our Slack press pool

The research investigations around misinformation trends and narratives by First Draft are made available to members of the CrossCheck Slack community. Please sign up here if you would like to join. If you’re already a member, please fill out this brief survey about your Slack experience thus far.

See you on Thursday

Every Thursday at 5 p.m. (EST) First Draft hosts a webinar to gather input on what resources can be built and shared that would be most helpful for your election coverage.

We want to be of service to journalists and newsrooms when it comes to finding, verifying and responsibly reporting on election mis- and disinformation.

Examples of that support could be:

  • Curated CrowdTangle dashboards led by our investigative team.
  • Twitter lists of local influencers to follow.
  • Top line trends shared via an audio recording.

Sign up for the webinars here. And please fill out the media needs assessment here.

Pre-bunk misinformation via text message

First Draft has launched a unique and free SMS course to help communities protect themselves from harmful information ahead of the elections. In a two-week text message course, you’ll learn why people create and share false and misleading content, commonly used tactics for spreading it, what you can do to outsmart it, and how to talk to family and friends about it.

You’ll get a text message every day for two weeks — full of valuable lessons to help you prepare for the threat of misinformation. Please share this link with your networks, including family and friends. The course is meant to be helpful for pre-bunking content voters might encounter in the run-up to the election.

Here’s a shareable link:

As always, I’m personally available to you for any questions, advice or needs you may have as you navigate the flow of misinformation and look to what can be done about it.

Please contact me at

All the best,

Damon Scott

Florida Fellow, First Draft News