ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (Dec. 13, 2021) – When the Poynter Institute launched its digital media literacy initiative MediaWise in 2018, the nonpartisan nonprofit set an ambitious goal. Teach 1 million middle and high school students how to better detect misleading or inaccurate information on the internet. Now, nearly four years later, MediaWise has reached 21 million people of all ages in the United States and continues to grow its roster of robust educational programs.
With support from Meta, MediaWise announces a global expansion of its online fact-checking training. The project will develop an international extension to address information disorder in three countries.
MediaWise will adapt its highly-effective digital-first training to slow the spread of misinformation online and help older adults in Brazil, Spain and Turkey make informed decisions about the content they engage with and share across social media platforms.
The program will feature customized curricula and a 10-day WhatsApp microlearning course for each country to teach adults how to spot conspiracies, scams, hoaxes and false news stories on the internet and social media.
“The MediaWise program has a proven track record of successfully connecting older Americans to reliable information and helping them spot misinformation online. We’re excited to build on this partnership with Poynter to expand the program internationally so that more people around the world are empowered with key digital media literacy skills to help them make more informed decisions about what to read, trust and share,” said Delphine Reyre, Vice President, Global Policy Campaigns and Programs at Meta.
Resident fact-checking partners and research institutions will help localize the educational resources with real-world examples of misinformation. Prominent figures from trusted sources in each country will join an impressive roster of MediaWise ambassadors including renowned journalists like Lester Holt, Joan Lunden and Christiane Amanpour to guide users through each lesson, share expertise and promote the exchange of fact-based information.
Research studies from universities in each country will follow to measure how effective the program is at improving users’ ability to identify and consume news more responsibly, explain different types of misinformation, practice fact-checking techniques and discuss misinformation with friends and family.
Participants will explore various topics throughout the duration of the microlearning course such as the dangers of misinformation, warning signs to identify bad actors online, understanding how verification and algorithms work, and more.
“Misinformation isn’t a problem isolated to the U.S. And in fact, democracies across the world are backsliding thanks in part to viral falsehoods,” said Alex Mahadevan, MediaWise program manager. “With support from Meta, we are excited to take abroad what we’ve learned from instilling digital media literacy skills in households across America.”
The pilot will launch in early 2022. For more information, visit poynter.org/mediawise-international.
In Brazil, the program will be led by Projeto Comprova, a coalition of 33 media designed to mitigate misinformation under the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (Abraji). Abraji is a nonprofit institution dedicated to improving the quality of journalism and defending the freedom of expression in South America’s largest country.
“The partnership with Poynter’s MediaWise will allow Abraji to reach a key audience to fight disinformation in the 2022 election year and also to test a new training format,” said Marcelo Träsel, president of Abraji.
Boris Casoy and Lillian Witte Fibe, two of Brazil’s most-trusted journalists who have spent their careers in print and digital media, television and radio, will serve as ambassadors of the program.
In Spain, MediaWise will partner with Newtral to localize the WhatsApp course. Madrid-based Newtral is a media startup for journalism, technology and data verification and a signatory of Poynter’s International Fact-Checking Network. The effectiveness of the program will be evaluated by Universidad de Navarra, a consolidated research center with several national and cross-national projects on digital communication trends and social impacts of topics such as digital journalism, social media, interactive advertising and emerging media business models.
“To tackle disinformation, we need a deeper understanding of citizens’ behavior when faced with questionable information in messaging apps,” said Ramón Salaverría, full professor of journalism at Universidad de Navarra. “This research will allow us to know how much media literacy training can help them develop skills to spot false content.”
The Spanish ambassadors will be journalist and political analyst Lucía Mendez and broadcast journalist Ana Pastor.
“Journalism has always been about providing confirmed, contrasted and reliable news. The technological revolution has allowed disinformation and lies to sneak in through the back door of journalism. And furthermore, disguised as journalism,” said Lucía Mendez, editor-in-chief of EL MUNDO and columnist. “Citizens must know how to distinguish and discriminate. We, the journalists, have to assume the responsibility of helping them in the task of distinguishing what is truthful journalism from what is not.”
Istanbul Bilgi University will oversee the fact-checking efforts and research study in Turkey. The institution for higher education was established in 1996 under the principle of learning not for school, but for life. With more than 150 programs for associate, undergraduate and graduate students, the university works to find ways to enlighten people, especially vulnerable portions of the population, on how to distinguish truth from falsity.
“In a rapidly changing world, what really matters is to be a part of the change. Education is probably the best, if not the only proven method in being on the right side of it,” said professor Halil Nalçaoğlu, dean and faculty of communication at Istanbul Bilgi University.
Turkish journalist, anchor and writer İsmail Küçükkaya will help raise awareness and support digital media literacy as a program ambassador.
Learn more at poynter.org/mediawise-international.
About The Poynter Institute
The Poynter Institute for Media Studies is a global leader in journalism education and a strategy center that stands for uncompromising excellence in journalism, media, and 21st-century public discourse. Poynter faculty teach seminars and workshops at the Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida, and at newsrooms, conferences, and organizations around the world. Its e-learning division, News University, offers the world’s largest online journalism curriculum, with hundreds of interactive courses and tens of thousands of registered international users. The Institute’s website produces 24-hour coverage about media, ethics, technology, and the business of news. Poynter is the home of the Craig Newmark Center for Ethics and Leadership, the Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact, the International Fact-Checking Network and MediaWise, a digital information literacy project for young people, first-time voters, and senior citizens. The world’s top journalists and media innovators rely on Poynter to learn and teach new generations of reporters, storytellers, media inventors, designers, visual journalists, documentarians, and broadcasters. This work builds public awareness about journalism, media, the First Amendment, and discourse that serves democracy and the public good. Learn more at poynter.org.
MediaWise is a nonpartisan, nonprofit digital media literacy initiative led by The Poynter Institute: Its mission is to teach Americans of all ages how to sort fact from fiction online. MediaWise content has been viewed more than 57 million times since the project launched in 2018. The MediaWise program teaches people through in-person and virtual training events, online educational videos, fact-checking content reported by the MediaWise Teen Fact-Checking Network, and its MediaWise Ambassador program — a group of prominent journalists and influencers who help promote the MediaWise mission. In 2020, Poynter launched the MediaWise Voter Project (#MVP2020) to teach first-time voters how to find reliable information online about the U.S. presidential election, a new initiative supported by Facebook. MediaWise for Seniors was announced in June 2020 to bring MediaWise tips to the 50+ population in advance of the general election. MediaWise for Seniors has a program funded by AARP to provide resources to their membership and a program funded by Facebook bringing virtual training and a social media awareness campaign to the senior population. The foundation of MediaWise was created with support from Google.org as part of Google News Initiative. Learn more at poynter.org/mediawise.