Diara J. Townes is an investigative researcher and the community engagement lead for the nonprofit misinformation research organization First Draft. She researches disinformation around U.S. election issues, breaking news events, and misinformation in public health and climate science.
Townes led First Draft’s partnership with ProPublica’s 2020 Electionland project and the U.S. 2020 Student Network, an all-volunteer college student collaborative that built monitoring, verifying, and reporting skills for over 50 emerging journalists.
Townes has an M.A. in Social Journalism from the Newmark J-School. She is the 2019 recipient of the J-School’s Newsweek Alumni Prize in journalistic achievement. As part of her social journalism practicum, she co-created the resource website, TheRockawayProject.org, for marginalized residents of the Rockaways impacted by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
Townes has a bachelor’s degree in marine and environmental science from Hampton University.