SNF DIALOGUES Webcast: Infodemic
29 April 2020

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) DIALOGUES held an open discussion with journalists on the quantity and quality of information circulating in the midst of the pandemic.

The SNF DIALOGUES held the second in a series of online discussions on Wednesday, April 29, focusing on the “Infodemic” that is shadowing the pandemic. The live webcast at dialogues.snf.org featured Ioanna Soufleri, a molecular biologist and Chief Editor of To Vima Science; Tasos Teloglou, a journalist and reporter at Ant1; and Thanasis Troboukis, a journalist and Project Manager of iMEdD Lab. They shared their thoughts about the sources of information we rely on, the quality of data available, and our ability to interpret that data to produce sound analysis.

Many of the contradictions in the instructions we all receive on a daily basis have to do with what you can actually do once a particular measure is announced. So we try to articulate instead what you cannot do,” said Teloglou about the varied sets of instructions people in Greece have recently received. This is essentially what the infodemic is: the “excessive dissemination of information, more confusing than it is informative,Troboukis explained. Soufleri mentioned reasons for optimism in the present situation, stressing that “it all depends on the source of the information, so I’m glad that information on COVID-19 is open and freely accessible to all,” while Teloglou stressed that “information has no national boundaries. If we want to know more about the pandemic, we must also see it from a non-European perspective.” Asked if there is a shortage of journalists capable of understanding and reporting scientific news, Soufleri replied that “this is a question for journalism schools. I believe, however, that we have made great strides in the field of medical journalism.”

The Peace Journalism Lab at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki’s School of Journalism & Mass Communications presented, via video (available at snfdialogue.org), the results of a survey launched a few days before the lockdown went into effect in Greece. The survey, which relates to media coverage of the pandemic, delivered data on which specific media are sought out by the public, on public trust in the media generally, and on the problem of misinformation. Journalism professionals also gave voice to unresolved questions and to concerns about how to practice their vocation in the midst of the pandemic in a video (available at snfdialogues.org) created expressly for the discussion by iMEdD.

Troboukis also presented data from the interactive web application created by iMEdD Lab to track the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in Greece and around the globe, underlining “people’s need for data,” and mentioning that “in less than a month, the application has been visited more than 2.5 million times.” The DIALOGUES discussion was capped off with the screening of a video and photographic material from iMEdD’s new journalistic project, “Present,” which is on view in public places in cities across Greece and online at parontes.imedd.org.

Watch the webcast of the DIALOGUES “Infodemic” event at snfdialogues.org

One of the many troubling dimensions of uncertainty in the current crisis is economic. On Wednesday, May 13 at 18:30 (GMT+3), the next live SNF DIALOGUES webcast, The Challenge to the Economy, will discuss the unprecedented socioeconomic upheaval caused by COVID-19 and an economic future that hangs in the balance. The DIALOGUES are here, as ever, to consider your excellent questions submitted via dialogues.snf.org and social media, as experts discuss the individual and collective challenges we face in the gradual relaxation of anti-pandemic measures. 

The DIALOGUES are curated and moderated by Anna-Kynthia Bousdoukou.

*The opinions expressed by DIALOGUES participants are solely their own and do not necessarily represent the views of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) or the SNF DIALOGUES team. Speakers’ remarks are made freely, without prior guidance or intervention from the team.