On 27 and 28 February, 30 young media professionals from Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania took part in a capacity-building training to better their skillset to fight disinformation and fake news in Berlin. The training was hosted by the citizen network Allaince4Europe, together with experts from the media sector in Germany.
The event was part of the project Read Twice, co-funded by the European Union under the CERV programme (Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values).
Raising media literacy among the youth
Last week, the Euro Advance Association sent 10 Bulgarian young professionals to a two-day training in media literacy in the German capital. There, they exchanged experiences with their counterparts from Croatia and Romania (through the partner organisations Udruga Echo, dedicated to active citizen participation, and Se Poate, committed to helping youth gain expertise through sports and culture.)
The young professionals have varying backgrounds, some are journalism or PR students, others are working in media and publish blogs. However, the common thread among all was the desire to help their local communities, especially other young people, by learning new skills in fighting disinformation and fake news online.
Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania are some of the countries most affected by disinformation and propaganda among European Member States. The idea behind the project is to allow the exchange of experience with countries (like Germany and Portugal) that have more robust practices to tackle these issues.
In this regard, the first of the two trainings was held in Berlin, with the local NGO Alliance4Europe as the host. The lecturers presented the young attendees with contemporary techniques for detecting fake content online, such as Public Editor. That tool is capable of marking rhetorical techniques in a text, which aim for an emotional response while presenting a narrow and distorted view of the facts.
Another theme of the seminar was the platform DISARM, which uses cyber security practices to create a massive strategical document that can aid national services as well as other interested actors in coordinating an international or a local level response against disinfo campaigns.
As a part of the project, the participants learned about the disinformation-detecting method, developed by Deutsche Welle. Julia Bayer and Tilman Miras, a journalist and an IT specialist working in tandem to create new instruments and software solutions, described their first-hand experience with fact-checking.
The young media professionals also had the chance to visit the editorial rooms of Der Spiegel, where media professionals presented practices from their work regarding facts and investigations, including the publication’s rigorous fact-checking standards.
The next destination for Read Twice and the project partners will be Porto, in Portugal. The second training session will take place there in March and it will be led by LUSOFONA University (Universidade Lusófona – Centro Universitário de Lisboa).
After both trainings are complete, the participants will, in their own right, organise seminars in their home countries. These will be focused on the university environment, where they will relay the tools and techniques for fighting disinformation to their peers.