World Association of News Publishers



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This is the first installment of a WAN-IFRA Youth & News Media series about news literacy initiatives around the world (outside the United States) that have been created by or could involve news publishers. It is a joint effort with the American Press Institute, which commissioned the inquiry to inform its own next steps. Lead author is Aralynn McMane.


#1 GUIDE IN DIGITAL SPACE: Focus effort -- and lead -- on platforms young people are using and in ways that also help them and their influencers learn to decipher all kinds of content.

(NOTE: * denotes a WAN-IFRA Center of Youth Engagement Excellence and ** a winner of the WAN-IFRA World Young Reader Prize)


Any news publisher involved with young people is probably present in the networked buzz, if only via facebook, Snapchat, YouTube, etc.

The wisest ones are doing more.

Leading in digital requires teaching about content. Learning how to navigate online space needs to be a main focus of any news literacy program, and the result can be only good news for people interested in making sure there will be a continuing audience for professionally produced journalism. Indeed, smart news publishers are linking existing digital behavior by young people to their own journalism and have become leaders in introducing even primary students to smart news-related use of technology, at best in ways that also help them learn how to judge all digital content.

As anyone knows who has worked in news literacy for longer than the last year or so, fighting fake news represents the panic button the field and only one small part of a much wider and enduring effort. Effectively sifting through all kinds of content is a skill that needs to develop starting early in life and can start with a playful approach. A key part of that first exposure involves learning the basic journalistic questions of who, what, when, where, why and how. Those platform-agnostic questions can serve as the basis for analysis of content throughout life. [Part 3: Create ways to try journalism, concentrates on how children playing at being a reporter can strengthen their content analysis skills.] For an overview of the entire report, click HERE.

This skill in questioning can combine with a first use of a news related app, even at a very early age. For example, Lilla Aktuellt Kollen is an app for children 8-12 produced by the national Swedish broadcaster SVT for its children's news show.** In a secure space, children can interact with staff using their mobile phones and tablets to answer questions, give their opinions and share their feelings on different topics discussed on a broadcast aimed at them.  The app also compares their answers with those of other users, and aggregated results are shared on the website. SVT keeps contact information confidential. [Download the full story at the bottom of this link.]

QUICK VIDEO CASE STUDY - Swedish television interacts with its youngest audience via a safe app [Video 00:01:46]


WAN-IFRA has encouraged and supported the approach of beginning early to guide young audience members’ interaction with news for more than two decades partly in cooperation with its 16 Centers of Youth Engagement Excellence around the world. For those centers, national media associations with media literacy specialists on staff, this activity is a natural, as they continue to help teachers help young people use and navigate news and other content. And they keep innovating, most recently around finding reliable information.

For example, the MBL Media Startup Society of the Norwegian national media association, MedieBedriftene, supported the creation of a "Demand the Source" app that gives the audience an opportunity to consider and vote on the credibility of what they read. Also in 2015, the Finnish publishers' association's National News Week focused on the theme "Is It True" with a special guide (in Finnish) for examining the details of such practices as Russian trolling to spread misinformation about its involvement in Ukraine.] [To find out about some other fact-checking approaches WAN-IFRA recommends, click here.]


Gerard van der Weijden of STEPP in Belgium is a WAN-IFRA World Young Reader Prize juror and world expert on the relationship between young people and the news. He agrees that there arming young people against fake or misleading content takes time. "For youngsters, being able to spot and deal with fake news is a process and not something to be achieved with a project or activity," he said. "Essential for this process is that youngsters become and are newsreaders in the first place, users of good and bad media, good and bad examples, good and bad news."

For the youngest children, the print platform offers huge versatility. Germany’s Schleswig-Holsteinischer Zeitungsverlag (SH:Z) is but one example. Photo-based activities in a kindergarten can involve a child imagining what new, fun activity a world leader wants to do or why a little girl has to marry an old man in some countries. [See video Zikita.]

QUICK VIDEO CASE STUDY - This German local news publisher became the introducer of the latest device and how to get news on it, with support from a local bank [Video 00:01:26, in German with English subtitles].

For teenagers, Schleswig-Holsteinischer Zeitungsverlag (SH:Z)** combined developing a news habit with providing the latest new device to use. SH:Z is in a region of Germany where tablet penetration was low, and the publisher got sponsorship from two banks to create a tablet-based news literacy project in local schools based on the newspaper's app. Thus, students got a first experience with using the technology (provided by the education ministry) in a news literacy context provided by the local publishers with teachers able to download a manual (in German) for free.

Thanks to a longstanding relationship with teachers based on using print editions, the local publisher was already a trusted partner, according to Georg Konstantinov, sh:z marketing manager and the project's director.

"One key element within the tablet classes is the usage of the iPads for conducting online research for homework or presentations, but where can students find reliable information?  Our workshop explains how students can gauge the credibility of sources, e.g. personal opinions, journalistic or public sources. At that point, we talk about how journalists work and the standards to which they are obliged to adhere."

He also sees a clear advantage his operation has over another kind of company in gaining the trust of schools: "If a journalist speaks to a student, it is more authentic than if it is done by a sales person." 


Editors of online and print youth editions help young people judge all content, even within their own products.  “A few weeks ago [as part of the Dutch Media Literacy Week], we gave kids/teens tips on how to check if news is trustworthy,” said Kim Einder, managing online editor for two Dutch weeklies and a daily news app for young people (Kidsweek for 8 to 12 year-olds) and 7Days** for teenagers. “One of our editors also gave workshops during a three-day media literacy festival for teens."

However, the daily quest for her is more often more basic as a part of day-to-day reporting.  "We try to explain to our readers how stories are made, how reliable we think our sources are, how 'scientific' a scientific report is, et cetera,” she said. “And mostly, we also tell, honestly, what we don't know and what information we don't have. We obviously consider ourselves a reliable source, but after all, we're only humans too." [Part 6: Explore the new news for kids on this kind of digital or print content.


In France, the 2016 nationwide Week of News Media and Information concentrated on the origin of information, with youth editions and nearly all media extensively involved. For example, Journal des Enfants** (JDE-The Newspaper of Children for children under age 12), created a special edition around false information, aimed at helping understand the origin, life and death of online rumors. "This dossier was accompanied by online resources (at enabling young readers, teachers and parents to have tools and answers about how to deal with the multiplication of false information today,” according to Caroline Gaertner, a JDE journalist. [Part 5: Help the influencers, describes more ways news publishers are supporting teachres and parents.]


SEE IT FOR YOURSELF - France's Premières Lignes [Front Lines] news agency created this short educational film with instructions for how teachers could use it to explore both real and fake conspiracies [Video 00:07:33 in French with English subtitles]

The topic of false news arose most prominently in France around conspiracy theories that emerged after the 2015 killing of the Charlie Hebdo satirical weekly's cartoonists. The investigative documentary team Premieres Lignes in France has begun a series of units to help teenagers distinguish between real and fake conspiracies. A short video (in French, with English subtitles*)  describes the real conspiracy of false information perpetrated for decades by U.S. cigarette producers. It then explores the fake conspiracy theories that emerged after the killings of journalists at the Charlie Hebdo satirical weekly when the Premieres Lignes team fled from its headquarters on the same floor as the Charlie Hebdo office to the top of the roof, guided by two staff members wearing bullet-proof vests. [A guide to using the film is here.]

“We have told ourselves that the rise of such conspiracy theorizing is a little bit our fault. Not a lot, but a little,” said Luc Hermann. “That's because our job is to question the official version. To introduce some doubt. To sharpen critical thinking.”

“Some skepticism is a good thing," he said. "However it's worrying to see that, in the name of critical thinking, some young people throw themselves into the hands of online manipulators, or into paranoia, or into mythos. Or all three at once.”

VIDEO 1-MINUTE CASE STUDY - Finnish online celebrities took up the offer of Ilta Sanomat to become news anchors for a week (Video 00:01:09, in Finnish with English subtitles.)

Finland's Ilta Sanomat** worked with the country's leading young video bloggers and youtube stars to have some fun with the news. They invited these celebrities to present newscasts on special YouTube broadcasts for a week in a project branded "#Kupla" (bubble). They did it partly to "create content that interests and engages young people to be a part of the story," according to project director Matti Markkola. The reaction was huge. Amid a potential audience of 600 000 10- to 19-year-olds, more than a million interactions occurred with #Kupla during the week.


Finally, all parts of this report will offer additional examples of how news publishers help guide young people in digital space. For example, in Part 5, Help the Influencers, you will find out about the Clarify explainer videos from France's Play Bac Presse, and Part 7, What Next? Consider this example to create the future, will tell you how the R.AGE team at the Malaysia Star alerted its young readership to online sex predators. Also, below and at the end of mos chapters, you will find the first examples of some leading American initiatives to help young people navigate digital space that we could not resist including, despite the mandate to concentrate on actions outside the United States. 

 Take me back to the overview.


This report was specifically commissioned to concentrate on initiatives outside the United States, but we would be shirking our task if we did not give you some key U.S. examples: award-winning news publisher work to guide young people in digital space from The New York Times Learning Network** and the long-time actions by the Newseum, the interactive museum in Washington, DC, based on the provisions of the U.S. First Amendment (1). Other parts of this report will offer other examples of U.S. initiatives, such as The News Literacy Project and its Checkology initiative, in Part 5: Help the Influencers.


Under the direction of Katherine Schulten, this initiative continues take a lead in helping young people learn to conduct themselves in digital space. Founded in 1998, it won WAN-IFRA's World Young Reader Prize for enduring excellence in 2013.

The most recent activity came during the lead-up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The Learning Network challenged teenagers to engage in civil discourse as they debated the issues and offers tips for finding reliable new sources.  In addition, it often gives young people a quality platform for their own opinions and offers lesson plans around a current news story each day.

In 2017, The New York Times saw a massive support for its related program that providies digital subscriptions to schools.The campaign got a huge boost from a compelling advertisement during the broadcast of the U.S. Oscars film awards.

Publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., explained in a press release that “the genesis of the ‘sponsor a subscription’ program came directly from readers who approached us with the desire to help support independent journalism and promote news literacy after the U.S. elections."

Schools are getting the subscriptions on a first come-first served basis. As of 9 March, enough money had been pledged to provide more than 1 million students with free subscriptions. According to a New York Times Release: “More than 15,500 individual contributions have ranged from as little as $4 to, in one case, $1 million (from an anonymous donor). While the program currently provides student subscriptions in U.S. public schools only, more than 830 contributions have come from international sponsors." The Times matches the donor support, giving an additional student a free subscription for every one purchased.

"We've seen enormous enthusiasm for this program on both sides," says Schulten, the Learning Network's editor. "Readers want to give to it, and schools are very eager to sign up."

Thanks to the new support, the Network was able to start a series of webinars that includes bringing the expertise of Times journalists to teachers and students. The first webinar offered a good overview that explained 10 ways to teach with the New York Times and offered insights about how reporters work from political writer Nicolas Confessore.



When the original Newseum opened 20 years ago in Rosslyn, Virgina, one of its first classes for students was called True or False. In it, students used internet and critical thinking skills to determine the veracity of unsubstantiated claims, such as whether a U.S. missile downed a passenger airliner.

Over the years in its new quarters in Washington, D.C, the commitment of the Newseum education department, NewseumED to media literacy hasn’t changed. What has changed are the platforms to get and share information. “Today’s students need new skills to navigate this shifting and confusing 21st Century media landscape,” explains Barbara McCormack, Newseum vice president for education. “Our mission to empower students with the tools to be savvy media consumers is fueled by the requests and needs of teacher."

Most recently, the Newseum into a Palo Alto, California, classroom to work on a special approch to helping students fight fake news. “Plenty of organizations are telling children how to consume news,” McCormack told Talking New Media. “What makes us different is that we’re going into the classrooms and listening to what students have to say, and then we’re building our curriculum around the information we learn from them.”

This newest offering,Fighting Fake News: How to Outsmart Trolls and Troublemakers,” is part of a yearlong rollout of classes and online resources to help students navigate the variety of content that falls under today’s label of fake news: inadequate reporting, made-up or biased information, real but negative news, etc.

NewseumEd tested the class and an accompanying flow chart with secondary students in Palo Alto in May 2017.

At most any time, teachers all over the country and world are already accessing to use some of the 1,000+ free historic newspapers and artifacts, videos, activities and lesson plans with ties to history, civics and media literacy

Each week, a Media Literacy Maven provides on Facebook Live tips and teaching moments for operating in this “post-truth” era.

Each day on site, both teachers and students take time out from exploring the Newseum's collections and interactive experiences to attend short, rich sessions in the learning center. 

(1) The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was adopted in 1791. It forbids the making of any law “respecting an establishment of a religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press; or the right of people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.



WAN-IFRA offers two kinds of free materials for news publishers around the world to help teachers and families guide young people in digital space:

 The Internet in the Family Guide – Materials for publishers to create a guide, online tie-ins and events (forums, etc.) to help families create their own code of digital conduct. In English, Spanish, German and French.

 The Questions to Keep Asking – Based on a the "Believe it or Not" activity created by the Newseum in Washington DC, this material guides a class in how to use journalistic questions to judge content and then applies the skills to a school research project. It is designed for use by a teacher and/or visiting journalist. When you download it, we will ask you to share some information about yourself so we can later get your thoughts as we continue to create new versions and new resources. The Spanish verision can be found here.


The lead author of this report is Dr. Aralynn McMane (France), WAN-IFRA executive director for news literacy and youth engagement, assisted by Wendy Tribaldos (Panama) a member of the WAN-IFRA global committee on youth and news media. Thanks also to Nolwazi Mjwara for her volunteer design and editing assistance.



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Aralynn McMane


2017-02-20 14:56

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