Author Archives: Daiva

The big vaccine gamble

EU countries agreed to pre-book several vaccines together. But the (now former) prime minister of Slovakia decided to act when the Western vaccines wouldn’t come fast enough. This cost him his post. Learn what happened on the latest episode of our podcast, produced with help from award-winning Slovak journalist Lukáš Onderčanin. Lukáš and I met on a press trip to Thailand. It’s exciting to collaborate again!

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Italy shows what the stakes of vaccine hesitancy can be

When my colleague Eva and I drafted our project before the pandemic, we thought we would definitely include Italy in our itinerary and talk to parents and doctors about living with widespread vaccine hesitancy, also promoted by certain politicians. It took us a while because we had to take our research online, but I am proud to present this collaborative podcast episode, created together with Are We Europe magazine. Have a listen!

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Vaccine ‘space race’

The media reported today that French-speaking ‘influencers’ on social networks have been approached by a dubious PR agency to promote negative messages about the Comirnaty (Pfizer) vaccine (I saw it on Twitter and then it was reported here). In this episode, Eva and I talk to experts who have been collecting data about how false claims about vaccines link to the pro-Kremlin media apparatus — and what’s at stake. Continue reading

Misinformation and disinformation: what’s in it for spreaders?

Since my colleague Eva and I started our project on anti-vaccination movements, reading about the topic has often led us to academic and media articles on misinformation or disinformation. The distinction between the two is not always clear, but it is based on intent. Disinformation is defined as intentional efforts to mislead people in order to sow distrust and chaos. And just like the general population was flooded with public health terminology (R number, exponential curve and so on) after the COVID-19 pandemic spread around the world, our readers, too are increasingly introduced to the typology of misleading claims on various fact-checking websites, social networks, and the media. Eva and I are working on more podcast episodes to explain these distinctions.

You can find some useful resources from First Draft here and here. It is important to note that misinformation and disinformation make use of real facts, but frame them to guide their audience towards misleading conclusions. In data visualisation, using a truncated Y axis is an example of a manipulation that can lead people to misinterpret correct data. Continue reading

Vaccine conversation tips from international reporters

Laura Oliver talked to numerous international reporters to glean suggestions for reporting on vaccines. But our podcast episode is not just for reporters – as we discuss visuals, fact-checks and tone when engaging in a politically charged conversations about vaccines, I think everyone who is having these conversations with their family and friends will find useful tips. Listen and subscribe! Continue reading

The Inoculation: This man had infiltrated a misinformation website – he’s now helping a ministry

Jakub Goda is a social media maverick from Slovakia, and he is very concerned with the damage of misinformation. He has tried his hand in activism on social networks and even infiltrated a misinformation-spreading website to see how it works. As the pandemic rages, Jakub works for Slovakia’s ministry of health, where he tries to preempt misinformation and respond to the most prominent attacks against public health measures. Have a listen, and better yet, subscribe to our podcast! Continue reading

The year of no travel

Have you noticed the desperation in the travel-addicted community over the past year? Out of habit or anxiety, many people I used to follow or still do tried to keep a similar level of talking about travel even when they were forced to stay put by the pandemic. Some shared photos of past travels. Others wrote posts about what they realised about the entire culture of travelling. Yet others shared their dreams and longings, and some still managed to sneak some travelling between constantly changing restrictions. I took some time to view these posts and hold their loss, understanding that many of them were really struggling with the sudden restriction of a habit that was making them happy.

But then, around April I think, I unfollowed all travel bloggers, except those who post interesting things about their country of residence. No bitter feelings or newly found anti-travel ‘wokeness’ here, it’s just that as they were raising social and sometimes economic capital for themselves with these posts and I was still travelling, I used to habitually check them out, maybe compare or get ideas, but as I viewed their posts for the last time in my lockdown shelter, I couldn’t see anything in them that held any value for me. I did not follow many cheery and cheesy ones anyway, but even the nice, reasonable, respectful ones, who could have claimed ‘I am a traveller, not a tourist’ or even denounced this claim because of its divisiveness, no longer felt like they are giving me anything. Instead, I embarked on several non-travel journeys, and I believe many people have, too.

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