Editor’s note: Deseret News InDepth writers reflected on their work in 2020. Here’s what they learned:

Writing about the conspiracy theory movement, QAnon, wasn’t my idea. I was assigned the story without knowing anything about QAnon or anyone who was part of it. That soon changed as I did the reporting, and in the days after the story was published, when my inbox and Twitter feed became inundated with messages from concerned QAnon supporters or ‘Anons.’

They told me to do my own “research.” Some shared YouTube videos that told a simplistic good versus evil story, devoid of concrete facts, where a criminal mafia controls everything including the media, banks, pharmaceutical companies and the CIA, causing all suffering in the world.

The swift response to my article revealed not just how vast and active the QAnon network is, but how starved people are for simple, direct journalism that cuts through misinformation and bias to help them navigate a complicated world.

I believe that’s why the explainers I wrote this year on QAnon, antifa and Black Lives Matter were so popular. While trust in traditional media sources may be declining, the success of these stories and others including, “Can you get arrested for disobeying stay-at-home orders?” and “Here’s what you need to know about recent Amazon ring hacking cases” demonstrated that our readers still rely on us to dispel misinformation and keep them safe. It’s a responsibility that I don’t take lightly.

To understand QAnon, I talked to more than a dozen people who either dismissed its claims as far-fetched or who deeply believed in conspiracy theories, including that 9/11 was planned by U.S. government officials, or that John F. Kennedy Jr. faked his own death and is secretly the real person behind QAnon.

But in talking to these people, I also realized that believers in QAnon had been misunderstood as reckless rumormongers, when in fact, they were mostly regular people, misguided but driven by a desire to uncover corruption and protect innocent people from harm. They harbored a deep mistrust of mainstream media sources, which had let them down with what they saw as biased or inaccurate reporting.

In reading about QAnon, as well as antifa and Black Lives Matter, I came across multiple examples where the movements had been misrepresented. I learned that fear of the unknown leads people to demonize and dismiss what we don’t understand. Only by carefully examining the differences between a group and a movement, rogue criminals and organized attacks or conspiratorial speculation and facts, can we start to make sense of the events of 2020.

I also learned that while some people’s beliefs and tactics are questionable at best, the vast majority of humans, whether they are QAnon supporters, antifa sympathizers or proponents of Black Lives Matter, want to live in an America that is safer and happier.

Name-calling won’t get us there, but cutting through the noise of opinion and political messaging to look at what is driving these phenomena will bring us closer to that ideal.

Here are my top explainer articles from 2020:

What is QAnon? And why is everyone talking about it?

Child sex trafficking is a problem, but QAnon isn’t helping

What is antifa and is it dangerous?

Black Lives Matter: Making sense of the hashtag, movement and protests

Here’s what you need to know about recent Amazon ring hacking cases

Can you get arrested for disobeying stay-at-home orders?