The American Press Institute today announced the addition of two community managers, Andrew Rockway and John Hernandez, to its project to connect local newsroom leaders and experts ahead of the 2020 elections. Together, they will help newsroom leaders share with and learn from one another and experts about effective and efficient ways to combat false information and other threats to honest election reporting.

Andrew Rockway, senior community manager for elections

Andrew Rockway joins as Senior Community Manager for Elections following six years at the Jefferson Center, where he managed the statewide news collaboration, Your Voice Ohio. Established in the lead-up to the 2016 election, the project convened reporters and leaders from a dozen newsrooms across the state to engage Ohioans and direct reporting resources to the priority issues and information needs identified by the electorate.

Since 2016, Andrew has led the collaborative to address new topics and grow to more than 50 news media and J-school partners, including print, radio, television, and online organizations, helping busy journalists strengthen their reporting to better serve residents’ needs. Andrew is based in Wisconsin.

John Hernandez, community manager for elections

John Hernandez will serve as Community Manager for Elections. After finishing an investigative fellowship with APM Reports, he will join the project in April to support collaboration with experts, civic groups and academic institutions focused on combatting disinformation and other threats to honest reporting, election integrity and voter suppression.

John is a ProPublica / Ida B. Wells Society 2019 Data Institute Scholar and a Center for Cooperative Media Peer Learning and Collaboration grant recipient. At APM Reports, he worked on elections issues as part of his reporting. John is based in Minnesota.

“Local news leaders, especially in swing states and areas with other highly contested elections, want to make prudent decisions about how to combat misinformation for their audiences without amplifying it, and to otherwise support quality information around a critical system, our elections,” said Amy Kovac-Ashley, API vice president and senior director. “We are thrilled to have in Andrew and John a duo that is keenly aware of the forces trying to affect the elections and that also understands the demands on local news leaders who want to serve their communities amid serious challenges from misinformation and disinformation.”

The two will help build a real-time network of newsroom leaders, civic and academic institutions, and outside experts to communicate throughout the 2020 campaigns. Through community management, events, access to expert advisers and other remote support, they and API staff will help local news decision makers learn from one another and from experts on election reporting challenges, including many supported by Craig Newmark Philanthropies, the API project’s funder.

The project responds to calls from local news leaders themselves who, facing limited resources and limited time, wanted support to identify what’s working well for combatting election misinformation, what isn’t and who can help them quickly. This month API will gather approximately 30 local news leaders along with a dozen experts in Charlotte, North Carolina, to further inform API’s support during the remaining primaries, the party conventions and up through Election Day. The network will expand to include more news organizations after that meeting. Interested local newsroom leaders can sign up to express interest.

“This may be the most challenging election year in history for journalists,” said Sherry Chisenhall, executive editor of The Charlotte Observer and an early member of the network. “Having this support to identify and combat disinformation will give our reporters and editors much-needed tools and resources — and networking with colleagues around the country will certainly help us better serve our community’s needs for fact-based election coverage.”

All journalists and others interested in lessons from the election collaborative are also encouraged to sign up for Need to Know, API’s morning newsletter with curated links on fresh, useful ideas to improve and sustain journalism.

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