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International Fact-Checking Day empowers journalists, citizens to spot fake news

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International Fact-Checking Day empowers journalists, citizens to spot fake news

Sam Berkhead | April 03, 2017

Much has been written about the current fake news and misinformation crisis — but what can be done to empower journalists and citizens alike to fact-check what they see online?

News organizations, journalism schools and more celebrated International Fact-Checking Day across the world yesterday to raise awareness of fact-checking efforts and techniques.

Poynter’s International Fact-Checking Network led the effort, partnering with organizations like Argentina’s Chequeado, Google News Lab and the American Press Institute.

Local fact-checking activities and discussions took place across five continents, most of which were organized by groups on the ground.

“We wanted this to be a decentralized thing that could be owned by anyone who wanted to promote fact-checking,” said Alexios Mantzarlis, director of the International Fact-Checking Network.

The initiative’s website features several resources for journalists and journalism educators, including a lesson plan for high school teachers, six "how to" guides and trivia quizzes.

Journalists can make use of the “how to” guides, which offer tips for fact-checking everything from urban legends to Wikipedia articles. The site’s trivia quizzes offer light-hearted exercises for groups to test their fact-checking know-how.

Educators can make use of the free lesson plan, which targets the next generation of news consumers at a time of worrying news literacy levels among young people.

The plan includes a reading and annotation exercise that determines students' ability to tell fact from fiction; examples of fake news stories; tips and tools for fact-checking online content of all kinds; and other materials to help teachers build upon the lesson plan.

“I’ve been really heartened and almost surprised at the level of interest in the lesson plan,” Mantzarlis said. “It’s one thing to talk about fact-checking with journalists — it’s another to talk about it with 14- to 16-year-olds.”

So far, the lesson plan has been translated into 13 languages (including Portuguese, Russian and Spanish) with more translations to come. Before downloading the PDF in English or other languages, users are required to fill out a basic identification form.

While it lasted just 24 hours, International Fact-Checking Day is a jumping-off point for a yearlong effort in which Poynter will work to promote fact-checking, verification and news literacy, according to Mantzarlis.

“This is just one initiative in a yearlong operation,” he explained. “We’ll keep promoting and building upon this and will continue to hold it in future years if we get the funding for it.”

Main image CC-licensed by Flickr via Megan Trace.

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