New handbook previewed at France’s Internet forum

Paris, France

UNESCO is developing a model curriculum titled “Journalism, ‘Fake News’ and Disinformation”, some 50 participants heard yesterday at France’s Forum sur la governance de l'internet held at Université de Paris Descartes.

“This forthcoming model curriculum is part of the series on journalism education produced by UNESCO,” said Guy Berger, UNESCO director for freedom of expression and media development, at a session titled “Éducation au numérique et aux medias”.

He explained that the publication is aimed at journalism educators and trainers, as well as working journalists. “It will also be of interest to political parties, health professionals, scientists, election monitors, NGOs, teachers, and Internet companies,” he added.

Summarising the contents, Berger said that societies need to be literate about the full range of responses to disinformation problems – covering those by governments, Internet companies, proponents of media and information literacy, and media actors.

Specific literacy for individuals consuming or producing content should cover at least four competencies, which are embedded in the model curriculum, he said. These are competencies are:

  1. Knowledge that good quality information - by transparent actors and which is verifiable - is essential for democracy, development, science, health and human progress,
  2. Knowledge and understanding that disinformation is not a side-show, and that fighting it is mission critical to news media,  
  3. Enhanced capacities by journalists, bloggers, social media users in order for them to provide exemplary practice for inclusive and accurate journalism, so that news can be a credible alternative to disinformation,
  4. New skills to avoid manipulation, such as for example by “deep fakes”.

Turning to Iiteracies especially relevant to media institutions, Berger listed three included in the handbook:

  1. Knowledge and skills to set up newsrooms systems which can ensure that there is systematically monitoring, investigating and reporting the origins of key cases of disinformation and misinformation,
  2. Knowledge and skill to run partnerships between media institutions with journalism schools, NGOs, fact-checkers, communities, Internet companies and regulators, in combatting information pollution,
  3. Knowledge about the importance of engaging the public on why it is important to cherish and defend journalism from being overwhelmed by, and included as a target of, disinformation attacks.

Other participants in the session spoke about challenges to educate schoolgoers and university students with a single programme when they have a wide diversity of media and social media engagement. Education for citizenship and multi-cultural understanding were also raised as key issues.

Reference was further made to the experience of Crosscheck which was a successful media alliance during the 2017 French elections dedicated to exposing disinformation.

Convenor of the panel was Divina Frau Meigs, UNESCO chair for “Savoir-devenir à l’ère du développement numérique durable: articuler usages et apprentissages pour maîtriser les cultures de l’information”. She highlighted an urgent need for more research to be done into the efficacy of media education efforts.
Other participants included Grégoire Lemarchand of Crosscheck and journalists Alexis Poulin and Sandra Laffont.
A flyer about the forthcoming study can be found here.