“Fake news: a critical approach” (April 2021)

The last learning activity is dedicated to “fake news”, which has been the “Word of the Year” 2017 (Collin’s Dictionary). It provides training in critical reading of journalistic texts in the new information society & evaluation of sources which is of particular importance for the “media competence passport”. We carry out the training with the support of experts: students of Media Studies at the University of Turku & journalists of the local newspaper “Laitilan Sanomat” . The learning activity consists of different works steps. In the first period, the students discuss in multinational groups the following aspects:

1) definition: What are “fake news”? Since when is the term used? We will work out that it is a form of misinformation broadcasted very often in online media. It has no basis in fact, but is presented as being factually correct.
2) purpose: For what reason are they designed and spreaded out? Who are the transmitters and receivers? We will focus on different reasons, like damaging entities, person, manipulation, propaganda, gain political or financial power, etc.
3) characteristics: How can we figure out whether news are “fake news”? In 2017, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) highlights the following advices: considering the source (to understand its mission & purpose), reading beyond the headline (to understand the whole story), checking the authors (to see if they are real & credible), assessing the supporting sources (to ensure they support the claims), checking the date of publication (to see if the story is relevant & up to date), asking if it is a joke (to determine if it is meant to be satire), reviewing own biases (to see if they are affecting the own judgement), asking experts (to get confirmation from independent people with knowledge). We are going to analyse examples of “fake news” by means of examples & work out stylistic devices (e.g. exageration, metaphors, images, irony, sarcasm, rhetorical questions, appeal) typical for manipulative texts.
4) examples: What have been in the last years famous “fake news” in the countries of our partner schools?
5) impact: What is the impact on different receivers?
6) solution: How can we react as responsible receivers?

In the next step, the students will apply the acquired knowledge to examples: First, they are given different news in order to find out which is a “fake news”. Then they will create “fake news” themselves with their peers from abroad. Thus, we intend to foster their empathy & critical understanding.
In the last step, the students will create “explanatory clips” summarizing the knowledge related to “fake news” with the help of external media experts.