About

First Draft is an organisation dedicated to supporting journalists, academics and technologists working to address challenges relating to trust and truth in the digital age.

We host a global verification and collaborative investigation network through our CrossCheck International initiative, work in partnership with our expanding community to conduct innovative and experimental research projects, and continuously develop online and offline training designed to expand and embed best practices in newsrooms and journalism schools around the world.

With a firm focus on tackling information disorder, First Draft is building on its pioneering work around elections in the US, France, UK, Germany, Brazil and Nigeria. In 2019, we will support the development of sustainable, collaborative efforts in Argentina, Australia, Canada, Indonesia, South Africa, Spain and Uruguay, plus a cross-border project to investigate misinformation tactics and trends in Europe.

History

First Draft formed as a nonprofit coalition with nine Founding Partners in June 2015, providing practical and ethical guidance in how to find, verify and publish content sourced from the social web. In September 2016, our original coalition expanded to become an international Partner Network of newsrooms, universities, platforms and civil society organisations.

In October 2017, First Draft was invited to join the Shorenstein Center for Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School. During this time, we inspired and coordinated the development of the Information Disorder Lab and expanded the scope of our research to explore the spread and threat of information disorder on closed messaging apps.

With thanks to ongoing support from key funders, First Draft now operates as an independent entity with headquarters in London and a New York bureau housed at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY.

Partner Network

The First Draft Partner Network includes some of the largest news organisations and prominent people working in this space.The Network is designed to scale training and establish industry standards on social monitoring, verification, and responsible reporting on disinformation.

We have the following Partner categories:

  • Founding: nine organizations that came together in 2015 to establish First Draft.
  • Core: newsrooms that have staff dedicated to social monitoring and verification and have publicly listed standards policies and corrections protocols.
  • Academic: journalism schools and researchers in a variety of disciplines that work to understand and explain information disorder.
  • Technology: organizations that help to bring insights to the reporting and understanding of how information travels online.

Partner Network

Founding

Core

Academic & Research

Technology

We are a non-profit

First Draft is administered as a company limited by guarantee in the UK, and is in the process of officially incorporating a sub-division non-profit 501c3 organization in the US. We welcome offers of additional sponsorship (either financial or in-kind) from any organisation keen to support a related project or event.

As a Founding Partner, Google News Initiative continues to support the work of First Draft. We are also grateful to the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Craig Newmark Philanthropies, News Integrity Initiative at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY, Open Society Foundations, Omidyar Network, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Ford Foundation and the Rita Allen Foundation for their grants and donations. We have also received financial support from the Facebook Journalism Project and Twitter.

Partnership on AI

First Draft is a member of the Partnership on AI’s Steering Committee on AI and Media Integrity. The Steering Committee, made up of organizations spanning civil society, technology companies, media organizations, and academic institutions, will be focused on a specific set of activities and projects directed at strengthening the research landscape related to new technical capabilities in media production and detection, and increasing coordination across organizations implicated by these developments. Initial members of the Steering Committee will include the BBC, CBC/Radio-Canada, Facebook, First Draft, Microsoft, the New York Times, WITNESS, and XPRIZE, among other PAI Partner organizations to be later announced.

Ethics Policy

Operational and editorial decisions are not influenced by funding partnerships, personal interest or the potential gain of any entities involved in or related to First Draft.

Acknowledgements

First Draft has achieved extraordinary impact and growth since its inception in 2015. This is due to the invaluable efforts and contributions from a long list of respected friends and colleagues, to whom we extend sincere thanks and credit. In particular, we thank the individuals who formed or worked for our original coalition:

Mohammed Adel
Fergus Bell
Ed Bice
Pete Brown
Malachy Browne
Kim Bui
Andy Carvin
Matt Cooke
Nic Dias
Sam Dubberley
Steve Grove
Eliot Higgins
Mandy Jenkins
Aine Kerr
Mark Little
Olivia Ma
An Xiao Mina
Alastair Reid
Craig Silverman
Josh Stearns
Eoghan Sweeney
Aric Toler
Tom Trewinnard

Our Team

Jenni Sargent

Managing Director 

Jenni led the formation and launch of First Draft in 2015 and has devised and coordinated a number of its key initiatives including the International Partner Network and CrossCheck France; the first project of its kind to encourage competing newsrooms to collaboratively verify and transparently endorse each other’s work. Building on those experiences, Jenni went on to develop the methodology and technology for First Draft’s global CrossCheck initiative, expanding sustainable collaborations across borders.

Claire Wardle, PhD

Co-founder and director 

Claire Wardle leads the strategic direction and research for First Draft. In 2009 she left her academic position at Cardiff University to develop an organization wide training program for the BBC on social media, verification and misinformation and has been obsessed with the topic ever since. In 2017 she co-authored the seminal report, Information Disorder: An interdisciplinary Framework for Research and Policy for the Council of Europe. Over the past decade she has been a Fellow at the Shorenstein Center for Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard's Kennedy School, the Research Director at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism and head of social media for the United Nations Refugee Agency. She holds a Ph.D. in Communication from the University of Pennsylvania.

Ben Sargent

Director of Operations 

Ben Sargent has overseen the financial and operational management of First Draft since its inception and is Company Secretary. Prior to that, Ben was a co-founder and director of Digital Skills Network, responsible for operations and business development. Ben started life as a camera engineer for Panavision and graduated to international production management and partner relations, specialising in 35mm motion pictures. A fluent Spanish speaker, Ben takes a lead advisory role in establishing our bureaux around the world and is the COO & Treasurer of our New York office.

Stephanie Haughton-Campbell

Chief of Staff 

As Chief of Staff, Stephanie is responsible for creating environments where individuals and teams deliver their highest goals. Responsible for driving effectiveness across First Draft's people, processes and projects, Stephanie brings a wealth of organisational and team development experience during a 20 year career - applying structure to creative and idea driven businesses and people. Prior to joining First Draft, Stephanie spent 8 years with Lloyd's Register, latterly as EA to the Executive Vice President supporting the creation and global launch of the external and corporate affairs business function. Beginning her career at major recording label, East West Records, Stephanie has held senior support and project development roles in the creative industries, including commercial music, digital broadcast, advertising and PR. Stephanie has a MA in Music Business Management and is a proud board member of the Brixton Pound - a local community organisation.

Emma Dobinson

Director of Projects and Development 

Originally from a TV and film production background, Emma has more recently been responsible for implementing successful international media capacity development projects, educational programmes and training practises and procedures. Emma’s previous drama, factual and live event clients include National Geographic, Discovery, BBC Films and Channel 4. With a Masters in Education, Power and Social Change, she has been able to put her creative expertise, production talents and teaching skills to good use in developing countries having assisted women and youth in particular in gaining their own voices through the respective media platforms. Emma recently completed work as Country Director for BBC Media Action’s North Africa office where she governed Libya, Tunisia and Algeria television, social media and training projects with successful regional and national business development and the establishment of effective donor partnerships with organisations including UNESCO, MEPI & the FCO.

Jack Sargent

Product Manager 

Jack is leading the development of all CrossCheck related technology, including our pioneering collaborative investigation and publishing platform. Trained in Information Technology by Hewlett-Packard, he has a background in digital design, video editing, CGI and animation. A key member of First Draft since its inception, Jack devised and developed all interactive training content and structured our blended learning curriculum. Jack is fluent in Spanish and provides user support to our CrossCheck partners around the world.

Marie Bohner

Project Support Manager 

Marie Bohner started working with First Draft on CrossCheck France in 2017 for the French presidential election. She coordinated the collaboration of media, academic and tech partners on the project. As a French and German citizen, she has assisted First Draft with partner meetings in Germany and at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. She has been working with First Draft’s European partners since March 2019. Marie has managed artistic and cultural events and Human Rights and advocacy related projects in France, Germany, Switzerland, India, Hungary and Senegal. These range from festivals and conferences to training courses and leadership seminars with said events having been conducted on an intercultural, local and international basis. As a freelancer she has written for publications including Global Voices (ENG and FR), Rue89 Strasbourg (FR), Novo (FR), Zut (FR) and Fisheye (FR). She is a member of the National Council of ActionAid France / Peuples solidaires.

Pedro Noel

Project Support Manager 

Pedro Noel has been working with digital rights since 2011, when he co-founded the Associated Whistleblowing Press, an NGO dedicated to the defense of human rights by the means of transparency, accountability and whistleblowing. As an investigative journalist and advocate, Noel took part in dozens of publications revealing wrongdoing and human rights violations in Spain, Iceland, Peru and Mexico, where he also trained more than 100 journalists in digital and journalistic skills. He was granted the “Orlando Sierra” fellowship of the Office of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression of the Organization of American States and the “Journalists for Transparency” of Transparency International. Before joining First Draft, he was a fact-checking and verification journalist at AFP (Agence France-Presse). Pedro has a background in Philosophy.

Victoria Kwan

Ethics and Standards Editor 

Victoria is the Ethics and Standards Editor, ensuring that First Draft's best practices for responsible, accurate and transparent reporting are implemented across all output. Previously, she worked as a Senior Attorney Editor in Thomson Reuters' legal publishing division and as a law clerk for the Honourable William F. Morse of the Anchorage Superior Court in the Alaska Court System. Victoria is a contributor to SCOTUSblog and the co-creator of several interactive tools that aid legal journalists and educate the public about the Supreme Court of the United States, including SCOTUS Map and SCOTUS Watch. She holds a JD from Columbia Law School, where she was a Harlan Fiske Stone scholar.

John Crowley

Editorial Director 

John Crowley is a journalist and editor who has worked across print and digital titles over the course of a 20-year career. He has a strong track record in digital innovation and audience insights, reacting to the new ways audiences now consume news. While at The Wall Street Journal as digital editor, he helped to build out the organisation’s UGC news offering across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. He regularly chairs and speaks at journalism conferences on management, local news and digital strategy as well as providing commentary on BBC News, ITV News and BBC Radio 5 Live. He is a trustee of the Journalists’ Charity and a member of the European Journalism Centre’s News Impact Network. John has an MA in English Literature from Queen Mary University and a qualification from the National Council for the Training of Journalists.

Alastair Reid

Digital Editor 

Alastair is digital editor, investigating trends and sources of disinformation and supporting CrossCheck projects around the world. He initially joined First Draft as managing editor in 2015, reporting on the field, training newsroom partners and commissioning editorial coverage before joining Press Association as a social media journalist in 2017. At PA he was named social media journalist of the year for his work reporting on breaking news events and investigating deeper issues around UK terror attacks, the Grenfell Tower disaster, the rise of the far right, climate change and knife crime, before re-joining First Draft in 2019.

Tommy Shane

Marketing and Press Manager 

Tommy Shane is responsible for ensuring that First Draft builds strong relationships, disseminates news-critical information, and raises awareness of its projects through effective communication and content. Previously, he worked at the UK House of Commons, managing their content team for select committees, and at Full Fact during the 2017 UK General Election. His research on political authenticity on social media has been published by the Social Media + Society, and he was named a global pioneer in digital democracy by the National Endowment for the Society and the Arts (Nesta). He holds degrees from the University of Cambridge and King’s College London.

Lydia Morrish

Digital Content Producer 

Lydia is a multimedia journalist and First Draft’s digital content producer, packaging interactive media around CrossCheck investigations and raising awareness of First Draft’s work across platforms. Previously, she worked at WikiTribune, leading investigations, building communities, hosting workshops and reporting on social issues, politics, digital culture and gender from Finland, New York and corners of Britain. As a freelance journalist, she reported extensively on issues affecting women, including around the aftermath of Ireland’s referendum to legalise abortion, workplace discrimination and sex work activism in the UK. Lydia is also the UK correspondent for NewsMavens and a member of The Second Source, the alternative network for women in the media.

Rory Smith

Senior Investigator 

Rory is a Senior Investigator at First Draft in London. With a background in data journalism, investigative reporting and international development, he will be looking into the various ways in which disinformation spreads as well as the evolution of disinformation and its myriad global networks. He will also be working with CrossCheck’s partners on more in-depth investigations around disinformation both in a supportive and collaborative role. Before joining First Draft, Rory worked for CNN, Vox, Vice and Truthout, covering various topics from immigration and food policy to politics and organized crime.

Carlotta Dotto

Research Reporter 

Carlotta is a data journalist with a background in philosophy, who will research and report on global information disorder and coordinated networks of amplification for First Draft. She specialises in data-led investigations, multimedia reportage and advanced internet research. She has previously worked with The Times’ Data team and La Repubblica’s Visual Lab, producing investigations on mental health, migration, cybercrime and issues surrounding social justice. She has also written for a number of publications including The Guardian, the BBC and the New Internationalist. She has been nominated for The Information is Beautiful Awards, and won The One World Media production fund.

Sebastien Cubbon

Junior Research Reporter 

Seb is a research reporter with background in economics and international relations research. He reports on disinformation tactics and trends and inauthentic online activity relating to key political events and narratives with a particular focus on French speaking countries (he has the dual nationality British/French). He previously worked on an international disinformation research project at Zinc Network (formerly Breakthrough Media). He has degrees from from King’s College London and the UvA (University of Amsterdam).

Sogol Azmoon

Accounts / HR Manager 

Sogol handles First Draft’s accounts and human resources matters. Before coming to First Draft, she worked in accounts and payroll for a variety of firms, and in the hospitality industry. Fluent in Farsi, Sogol also has experience as a TV presenter for an Iranian channel.

Aimee Rinehart

Bureau Editor, New York 

Aimee managed Comprova, the Brazilian election project in 2018. She serves as project lead on First Draft initiatives and builds strategic partnerships with complementary organisations to support and enhance our work around the world. She started working online in 1996 and was a digital originator at The New York Times. She was an editor at the Wall Street Journal Europe in Brussels and upon her return to New York, worked in the communications departments at the American Civil Liberties Union, the Overseas Press Club of America and Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. She graduated from Indiana University School of Journalism and has an MFA in creative writing from Rutgers-Newark University.

Shaydanay Urbani

Research Reporter 

Shaydanay is a research reporter, investigating disinformation online. Before First Draft she worked as a criminal justice reporter in New York and project director at Physic Ventures in San Francisco. She has a background in Middle Eastern languages and politics, GIS, and food policy, as well as a masters from the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY.

Anne Kruger

Bureau Editor, Sydney 

Anne has recently helped to launch First Draft in Asia-Pacific, overseeing CrossCheck Australia for the 2019 federal elections. Anne has spent most of her career working in Asia, including as an international journalist and anchor at CNN International Hong Kong, Bloomberg TV, Radio Television Hong Kong, and Radio Corporation Singapore. She was anchor and national correspondent for the iconic Australian program Landline, and fill-in co-host for ABC News Breakfast. As an Assistant Professor at the University of Hong Kong, Anne set up the award-winning Cyber News Verification Lab in the wake of Occupy Central, collaborating with verification technologists Meedan. Anne also conducted news literacy courses throughout Asia, consulted for UNESCO Asia, and conducted research projects with Google News Labs partners into the misinformation ecosystem of Asia. She is an assessor at the International Fact-Checking Network (Poynter) and a Google News Initiative trainer. She recently worked as an ABC multi-platform state Chief of Staff, and producer on the National Digital desk at the ABC’s digital headquarters in Brisbane. Anne completed her PhD in social media verification education in January 2019.

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