Marianna Spring

BBC Disinformation and Social Media Correspondent

Navigating the War on Disinformation with Marianna Spring

Insight from the BBC's Expert on Tackling Conspiracies and Misinformation in Modern Media

Introduction: The Quest for Truth

Seeking the truth in an age of digital disinformation can often seem like navigating through an endless maze of mirrors, distorting the very nature of reality. In this episode of 'Some Dare Call It Conspiracy,' we're joined by Marianna Spring, the BBC's disinformation and social media correspondent, who sheds light on her investigative journey into some of the most pervasive conspiracy theories and the very human cost of misinformation.


The Impact of Investigative Reporting

Marianna's work on Radio Four and the accompanying Panorama report represents a significant effort to expose the damaging real-world effects of disinformation. Her reporting, which is fueled by testimonies and in-depth evidence, has received acclaim from individuals who have suffered from conspiracy-fueled abuse. While some critics deride these journalistic endeavors as mere "hit pieces," Marianna acknowledges the deep-rooted skepticism towards the BBC but remains committed to truth-seeking and changing perceptions through her work.


The Personal Side of a Disinformation Reporter

Amid the serious discussions around conspiracies and journalism, Marianna shares a lighter touch with hosts Neil Sanders and Brent Lee by discussing holiday plans, including a Christmas tradition with her family and her cat, Mia. This personal insight offers a refreshing glimpse into the life of a reporter dedicated to exposing disinformation, even as she pens her upcoming book "Amongst the Trolls: Notes from the Disinformation War."


Empathy and Engagement in Journalism

Confronting online abuse and disinformation is an ongoing battle for Marianna. She advocates for speaking out against such attacks and shares tactics for coping, like seeking support from trusted individuals. Moreover, she stresses the importance of empathy when engaging with those who may be susceptible to disinformation, underscoring the need to understand rather than dismiss their viewpoints. This approach is vital in ensuring fair representation and building trust with audiences.


Behind the Scenes of Disinformation Battles

Delving deeper, Marianna discusses the intricacies of building rapport with interview subjects to uncover the true impact of conspiracy theories on individuals' lives. She sheds light on her thorough verification process, which goes beyond just fact-checking to fully comprehend the narratives being spun online. Spring's meticulous methodology demonstrates her deep commitment to accuracy and the empathetic nature of her investigative work.


The Challenges and Heroes of Journalism

Marianna's path to becoming a defender against disinformation began with her early interest in journalism, shaped by influences from admired figures like BBC's Emily Maitlis and Lys Doucet. Her journey is a testament to the unwavering pursuit of truth amidst an era clouded by falsehoods and the resulting societal harm.


Navigating Public Trust and Conspiracy Theories

The struggle to maintain public trust in the face of deeply ingrained distrust is a daunting task, one that Marianna confronts head-on. By understanding the perspectives of conspiracy theorists and holding them accountable, she emphasizes the importance of distinguishing between legitimate investigations and harmful conspiracy theories.


Conclusion: A Beacon of Hope in the Disinformation Age

As an episode of 'Some Dare Call It Conspiracy,' our conversation with Marianna Spring serves as a beacon of hope for those facing the deluge of disinformation. By championing evidence-based reporting, cultivating empathy, and holding the powerful accountable, she embodies the resilience and dedication necessary in the ongoing battle for truth. Her journey encourages all of us to persevere in our quests for clarity in a world too often clouded by conspiracy.


Be sure to tune in to "Some Dare Call It Conspiracy" to hear the full conversation with Marianna Spring and gain deeper insights into the fight against disinformation.

Contact Marianna Spring


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00:00 Fascinated by journalism from an early age.

07:06 Inspired by brilliant journalists and speaking truth.

15:55 Challenging COVID beliefs and addressing disinformation.

18:10 Focusing on human cost in investigative journalism.

26:13 Podcast delves into disaster trolls, survivor testimonies.

31:11 Legitimate failings inspire deep distrust in people.

36:58 Glamorous buildings house decision-makers affecting our lives.

38:23 Address harmful but legal online content responsibility.

47:26 Positive work culture at BBC, emphasizes bravery.

50:55 Culture and media changed, now more interactive.

55:06 Empathy and understanding key to addressing issues.

01:01:34 BBC confronted Richard Hall over Manchester arena incident.