Big, If True Webinar: Deeper States: The Proliferation of Networked Conspiracies Online

Big, If True Webinar: Deeper States: The Proliferation of Networked Conspiracies Online

March 31, 2021

Tuesday, March 23, 2021 – On this episode of BIG, If True, our host Joan Donovan, PhD is joined by NBC’s Brandy Zadrozny, a reporter on the disinformation beat whose strategic early reporting on Qanon during the pandemic was critical, The New Yorker’s David Rohde, author of In Deep: The FBI, the CIA, and the Truth about America’s “Deep State,” and Brian Friedberg, Senior Researcher in the Technology and Social Change Research Project at the Shorenstein Center and an ethnographer of fringe online subcultures. The panelists cover the processes of researching, documenting, and reporting on networked conspiracies and their aftermaths.

Watch a recording of the conversation below:


Brandy Zadrozny is an award-winning investigative and features reporter for NBC News where she covers misinformation, extremism, and the internet. This year alone, she’s written definitive stories on the QAnon conspiracy, Trump propaganda outlet The Epoch Times, and the profiteers behind the rising anti-vaccination movement and coronavirus misinformation online. Previously, Brandy was at The Daily Beast where she covered politics and the internet as a senior reporter. She has an MLIS and in a former life, worked as a librarian and instructor in news, college, and public libraries.

David Rohde is the executive editor for news of NewYorker.com. A former investigative reporter and foreign correspondent for the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, and Reuters, he covered the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Bosnia. A two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, he was awarded for team coverage of Afghanistan and Pakistan and for stories that helped expose the Srebrenica massacre during the war in Bosnia. He is the author of four books, including, most recently, “In Deep: The F.B.I., the C.I.A., and the Truth about America’s ‘Deep State.’” He lives in New York with his wife and two daughters.

Brian Friedberg is the Senior Researcher of the Technology and Social Change Research Project at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School. Blending academic research and Open Source Intelligence techniques, Brian is an investigative ethnographer, focusing on the impacts of alternative media, anonymous communities, and unpopular cultures have on political communication and organization.  Brian holds an MA in Cultural Production from Brandeis University.


Hosted by Joan Donovan, PhDBig, If True is a seminar series presented by the Technology and Social Change Research Project (TaSC) at the Shorenstein Center. Dr. Donovan’s research specializes in Critical Internet Studies, Science and Technology Studies, and the Sociology of Social Movements. Dr. Donovan’s research and expertise has been showcased in a wide array of media outlets including NPR, Washington Post, The New York Times, Rolling Stone, ABC News, NBC News, Columbia Journalism Review, The Atlantic, Nature, and more. In 2020, the TaSC team launched the The Media Manipulation Casebook, a digital research platform linking together theory, methods, and practice for mapping media manipulation and disinformation campaigns. This resource is intended for researchers, journalists, technologists, policymakers, educators, and civil society organizers who want to learn about detecting, documenting, describing, and debunking misinformation.

Want to keep up with what TaSC is seeing week to week? Sign up for their newsletter, Meme War Weekly, and get fresh insights from the team straight to your inbox.