MDI at the US Embassy Media Literacy Event

Date: 25 April 2018

Country: UK, London

By Daphne Visser

MAH_Workshop_May_2017_3“We want children to become more sceptical about the news on their social media feeds,” Damaso Reyes said at the Media Literacy workshop “Fighting Misinformation” organised by the USA Embassy in London. The Media Diversity Institute (MDI) participated in the workshop together with mostly secondary schools teachers and organisations implementing youth media literacy programmes.

MDI has already worked with the USA Embassy and Shout Out on media literacy programmes and youth conference #MediaMinded. The key speaker at the event held on 25 April in the Embassy in London, Damaso Reyes, is part of the News Literacy Project (NLP). Part of his job is to visit schools explaining and teaching children about media literacy, specifically news literacy.

The goal of the project is to have students gain a healthy scepticism -not cynicism as specifically pointed out during the talk- about the many messages and articles they see on their social media pages every day. Reyes wants to motivate students to even be sceptical about the most trustworthy media outlet like the bigger newspapers, since even they could state misinformation due to human errors or simply because they got misinformed themselves.

The News Literacy Project also set up the website called, which is a virtual classroom “where students learn how to navigate the challenging information landscape by mastering the skills of news literacy.” The virtual classroom consists of 12 core lessons that help teachers and educators to provide their students with tools to learn how to determine whether news and information is trustworthy, shareable and if they should act on it.

Reyes also provided useful tools that could both be used inside and outside the classroom and 7 steps on “how not to get fooled” by misinformation and fake news:

7 steps on how not to get fooled:

  1. Check your emotions – fake news is often designed to work on the emotions
  2. Determine the purpose of the piece of information
  3. Be aware of your biases – are you assuming/hoping the news is true/false?
  4. Consider the message – is it too perfect? Overly or aggressively partisan?
  5. Search for more information – did other reliable news outlets say it as well? And where did it appear first?
  6. Go deeper in the source – “opinions are not the truth”
  7. Go deeper on the content itself – date, key details, quotes, image search

Tools to determine misinformation and what to trust:

–          Wall Street Journal: blue feed, red feed – shows a liberal and conservative social media feed side by side to show that social media adapts to the person who is using it.

–          NewsDiffs – archives changes in articles over time.

– – when you put in an URL from a website it shows you who owns it.

–          TV News Archive – lets you find TV news clips to figure out if someone actually said something

–          First Draft – has an online course on how to verify information online

–          Newsletter the SIFT – newsletter that goes through last weeks’ news and gives tips from a news literacy perspective

– – checks if facts presented in the news are true or not.

– – researches whether what politicians say is true or not.

– – checks if pictures are real or fake.

– – searches images to see where they originated from.

Reyes ended the workshop with an exercise where the participants had to pick 5 stories from the 20 choices they had. They had to decide what kind of newspaper they were and choose the stories that suited best. The exercise didn’t have anything to do with media/news literacy but was meant to let the participants think about why editors make certain choices. Reyes explained that this is an exercise he also often does with students to let them engage with journalism.