Journalists from the BBC, Financial Times, The Telegraph and more are educating teenagers on fake news and helping develop their writing skills.
The Student View is a UK charity that brings journalists into classrooms to run workshops and talks for pupils aged between 11 and 15.
As a result, the charity claims that 86 per cent of pupils recognise the dangers of fake news following the program, and 87 per cent can distinguish between fact and opinion.
“We make them aware of trusted publications, because we have realised that they often have a poor news diet,” explained Solomon Elliott, founder, The Student View. “They are consuming media which might be entertaining but not necessarily informative.”
He said it is a critical age for pupils to get to grips with how fake news spreads on social media and going back to the basics of understanding key definitions.
“We have discussions of real-world examples and ways to safeguard against it with strategies,” he continued. “We make them aware that they are all publishers and and they need to be conscious of that.
“We aim to create a generation of critical media consumers and also content creators.”
Since being founded in 2016, The Student View has created 50 'pop-up newsrooms' in 35 London secondary schools and is looking to scale that number across the country with two-year funding from Google.org.
Industry journalists give a ‘crash course in online journalism’ which demystifies it, allowing pupils to see the human behind the news article, according to Elliott.
At @conisboroughcol today! Been a good session with a great group of kids. Climate change, anxiety, Article 13, and #Brexit all on the agenda!#charitytuesday #education #medialiteracy #school #schools #UK #mentalhealth #MentalHealthAwareness pic.twitter.com/y3eNl1IpWN— The Student View (@studentvieworg) November 20, 2018
One of the journalists, Georgie Frost, BBC 5 Live presenter, praised the practical element of the charity’s focus, having been involved in 2017.
“I believe teaching kids the skills required in journalism has never been more important in this digital age of fake news and social media,” she said.
“While the industry’s landscape may have changed from when I started out, I don’t believe those fundamental principles have and they are principles that should not be restricted to our profession.”
Frost was on hand to help students think of stories and guide the writing process. She recalled one student who wanted to speak out against the stigma of growing up in care based on her own experience.
“She reminded me of balance, of how we need to consider the impact of what we write on others, how important it is that those who are affected have a voice to tell us their perspective and that the positives also make great stories,” said Frost.
“We have learned that to maximise engagement, you are going to be more engaged about a topic you care about and something you have selected yourself,” said Elliott. “It brings journalism to life."
Elliott refers to Adam Abdullah as a key example of what the project can achieve by bringing pupils and journalists together. The 15-year-old went on to publish a piece in Vice UK on poverty and knife crime in London after the programme.
@aabdu02, the Young Mayor elect of Lewisham said The Student View allowed you “to genuinely communicate your ideas” after he completed our workshop.— The Student View (@studentvieworg) November 14, 2018
Well, here he is, communicating his ideas in @VICE. We’re proud of you Adam! #literacy #media #newshttps://t.co/xgxxfFaGAK
“We are accelerating his leadership potential, by going onto this programme and by giving him a chance. He needed that boost,” said Elliott.
While pupils are selected by their teachers who have shown an interest in journalism, 50 per cent of applicants must also be in receipt of the pupil premium and underperforming in their English studies.
In the UK, the pupil premium is a form of additional funding for publicly funded schools which is designed to help disadvantaged pupils perform better.
The programme consists of a 12-hour curriculum over three separate visits to the school. The Student View is still accepting applications for the 2018/19 programme and welcoming volunteer journalists too.
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