On 25 April, Euro Advance held a second student training against fake news and disinformation at the Faculty of Journalism and Mass Communication of Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”. Titled “Facts vs. Opinions: Disinformation in the Age of Digital Media”, it forms part of the Read Twice European project, which combats these problems by improving media literacy and encouraging critical thinking. The innovative format – young people teaching young people – sparked interest among students from different disciplines and created conditions for their active participation.
Making youth care about misinformation
Assoc. Prof. Svetlana Stankova, Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Journalism opened the event by emphasizing the growing importance of the problem with the spread of fake news online and the need for a systematic approach. She recalled the serious consequences of the myths surrounding the spread of COVID-19 and vaccines, illustrating a real dimension of misinformation in our lives.
Aseniya Dimitrova, leader of Read Twice, spoke next adding that the basis of the project is the gap between Eastern and Western Europe according to the Media Literacy Index of the Open Society Institute – Sofia. This is precisely what prompted the team to seek cooperation with organizations from Germany and Portugal to train young media professionals from Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia.
After two capacity-building trainings in Porto and Berlin, the participants summarized what they had learned and prepared materials conduct their own local trainings – at the NBU and at Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski. Preparations for a third workshop are underway.
As part of yesterday’s event, Dimitar Halachev, a Public Relations student at SU St. Kliment Ohridski showed how a manipulated video can take over the web, and played an informative game with the audience. Next, Dara Sapundjieva, who studies journalism and political science at New Bulgarian University (NBU), explained the terminology related to misinformation and through a personal story showed that we can all be vulnerable to false info when our emotions are affected.
Iva Veselinova, a student of European Studies at SU “St. Kliment Ohridski” and Teodora Stamenova, who’s doing political science at the University of National and World Economy and participates at the Advisory Council on Youth Policies of the Sofia Municipality, traced the historical development of fake news and showed some tried and trusted ways of checking facts.
Denis Balgaranov, NBU alumnus and editor at TheMayor.EU, talked about disinformation as an industry and revealed to the audience the price list of some companies for “services” such as disrupting elections, hacking profiles and spreading scandals. Furthermore, Denis showed how language can become a tool of disinformation through sophistry, rhetoric, and so-called “logical fallacies” that obscure the truth in a debate.
Finally, Eneya Georgieva, member of the Association of European Journalists and Editor at ForbesBulgaria demonstrated some of the most effective tools for the work of media professionals in terms of fact-checking, such as Invid and Crowd Tangle.
The event is part of the Read Twice (R2) project, with number 101081326, co-financed by the European Union under the Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values 2021-2027 (CERV) programme.