MODULE 1 - THE MEDIA UNIVERSE
SESSION 1 : FUNCTIONS AND TOOLS OF INFORMATIONPractical activities
ACTIVITY 1 – HOW TO CHECK SOURCES
At least 1 computer with an internet connection, otherwise at least 1 smartphone for every 2 students
- Allow participants to apply the journalistic practice of fact checking.
- Assess a piece of information’s quality and relevance.
- Reflect on the difficulty of getting clear information on certain topics.
Participants are seated in groups in front of computers and given news items to check. It may be necessary to prepare a few topics in advance to figure out whether or not the information is true, but the objective really is to let them find out for themselves.
Many different types of facts can be checked, ranging from the simplest – the date of an event, the content of a law, or what happened during a football match – to the most complex. For example, finding out the number of unemployed in Kosovo requires deciding on how to define ‘unemployed’, which varies by agency.
The aim of this activity is to put participants into the role of ‘investigator’ or ‘junior journalist’ and encourage them to exercise caution in their everyday use of the internet.
1 - The instructor compiles ten or so items (depending on the number of participants) found on the internet or social media that are either fake news (debunked after publication) or real news that is easy to verify. The instructor must check the items beforehand and have an answer key.
2 - Participants, in groups of 2 or 3, draw 2 or 3 items at random.
3 - The groups of participants sit at computers and are given multiple items to check.
4 - Students should be reminded of how to fact-check:
- What kind of website was this item found on? (see the ‘Legal Notices’ or the ‘About’ section)
- Is it an international news site, a humour site, a political blog?
- Who is the author? A politician, journalist, expert, citizen, anonymous author? (Look up the person who wrote the article)
- What is the author’s intent?
- Is the author trying to scare us, inform us, manipulate us, persuade us?
- Where does the article come from and what sources/evidence does it use?
- When was it published?
- Was the information published on other sites?
- Can you corroborate it, that is, can you find it in other media?
5 - Each group presents how they checked the items, other groups give their impression on that group’s performance, the instructor provides corrections.
The Balkan context
For this activity, refer to the ‘Independent media’ topic sheets of our educational website. Teachers will find there multiple items to check that they can use to plan their lesson.