VERA Files’ Celine Samson chosen as Hurford Youth fellow

Celine Isabelle Samson, head of VERA Files’ online verification team, has been named as one the four Hurford Youth fellows for 2024.

The program, hosted and sponsored by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), World Movement for Democracy, The Hurford Foundation and the International Forum for Democratic Studies, “seeks to build the leadership skills and harness the potential of young democracy activists from around the world.”

The fellows conduct strategic meetings, research and information-sharing sessions on key democracy issues such as expanding civic space for young people and countering disinformation.

Samson, who leads a team that fact checks viral articles and monitors disinformation’s impact on democracy, is working on a project that will help journalists regain trust in the news among the young people.

“I will spend this spring looking into the reasons behind news distrust and avoidance among young Filipinos and learn from initiatives being done by media organizations and civil society around the globe to encourage the youth to consume credible and verified information,” Samson says.

She intends to produce a handbook for Filipino journalists that can help improve their approach to delivering the news to the younger audiences.

The fellows are in Washington, D.C. from March to May to broaden their networks and share lessons from democracy movements worldwide.

Samson shared that in the past couple of weeks they have been meeting with key people who support democracy initiatives globally.

“My co-fellows and I are incredibly lucky to have access to the wealth of knowledge available at NED, from being able to speak with subject matter experts on disinformation, authoritarianism and information integrity by walking a few steps to someone’s office, to borrowing from the wide array of books, journals, magazines and newspapers available at their awesome library,” Samson adds.

Other fellows are Kenya’s Christine Magoma Oumar, Yemen’s Ezaldeen Abushaar and Ukraine’s Oleksandra Zurian.

John B. Hurford (1938-2000), after whom the fellowship is named, was a philanthropist and foreign affairs expert who played a significant role in the realization of the World Movement for Democracy and other international affairs-focused organizations.