MMM – Mediawijs door Media Maken – Media literacy through Making Media


Global Media Forum in Bonn: How to engage youth to be informed about fake news?

Our team member Ena Omerović was in Bonn for the Global Media Forum (11-13 June 2018) with this year as theme: Global Inequalities. She spoke on behalf of MILEN (Media and information literacy expert network) about how we engage our youth to be informed about fake news.

Fake news is a hot topic but do young people care? How can we reach young people to engage them in the topic? Why is it important that young people are aware of disinformation?

Here is an excerpt from the presentation at the Deutsche Welle Akademie session lounge at GMF.

“How do we engage the youth to be informed about fake news? 

 I’d like to say that we use the term propaganda in our curriculum. Because Fake News is a form of propaganda, using mistruths with which it aims to manipulate its audiences.

When a student understands propaganda… it will understand fake news.

How do we do this? We believe that you learn best by doing.

We use an interactive and participatory approach in teaching about propaganda. We engage our students to discuss propaganda examples they experienced in their own life. But even better; we train them in producing their own propaganda. I believe this is where their engagement is really triggered.

What are the steps?

We start the week with an informative journey about what media are, throughout history, and the variety of forms and goals they fulfil: informing, entertaining, communicating et cetera.

Subsequently, we teach them on how audio-visual media use certain tools for content creation to bring their message across. We discuss different elements necessary for audiovisual production. Like filmshots. How can a certain filmshot create a different meaning and different emotional response for the viewer? Think of the high and low angle shots, making someone look smaller or bigger. We also cover other elements such as sound, storytelling and interview techniques.

Then it’s time to experiment. We ask the students to make videos to see the workings of image and sound and reflect on the effects on themselves. They use their own smartphones allowing them to be conscious how they can produce their own media.

Once the students have received the building blocks, the formal tools of audiovisual productions, the real stuff begins! They make their own propaganda video. A video about their school. Half of the students make a propaganda that is positive about the school and the other students make video that is negative.

So, what happened…

A group of three students decided to opt for the negative, aiming to depict the school as a “dirty” place with “bad and angry teachers”. We, the facilitators of the media literacy project had instructed students that the hallways, among other places, could be used for video recording. In their enthusiasm about their plans, the group of three turned over trash bins in the hallways to create a desired setting with the required props.

Unaware about the project the students were involved in, the school director told the group to stop recording because they disturbed the other classes. The group recorded their exchange of words with the director, and included it in their video to unfavorably frame the teaching staff. This video went viral among the students in the school, triggered gossip and leading to heated discussions between us, teachers and the school director.”

After brief presentation a video was shown of a propaganda example, a commercial made by students of the Ithaka school in Utrecht in 2018. They used propaganda skills and effects in bringing a message across a certain microphone works amazingly.