Learn to Discern: Citizen Media Literacy in Ukraine and Beyond (4-minute version)

Learn to Discern: Citizen Media Literacy in Ukraine and Beyond (4-minute version)


Most people really can’t tell fake from real, fabricated stories, the fake news phenomenon has hit Canada, fake news about Qatar, flood Germany with disinformation and fake news, Russian propaganda, fake news censorship, manipulation, fake news Disinformation hurts and compromises democracy because it pollutes the information space to such an extent that people can’t tell facts and lies apart anymore. That means that they can’t have a real deliberative debate about what to do in a country because if you can’t even agree on the facts, then any kind of debate breaks down. I think in the US that has already started happening, which is incredibly worrying. Ukraine has much more experience compared to many other countries in how to deal with fakes and disinformation. The country has a contemporary history of conducting war with Russia. I learned about the Learn to Discern curriculum when I was looking for solutions to the crisis in Ukraine. Media literacy is a very very important ingredient and Learn to Discern was by far and away the original approach to it that we came across. So at the beginning of the Learn to Discern project, we looked around for different media literacy trainings. What we found is that the media literacy curriculums weren’t addressing the types of challenges that we face today with disinformation and propaganda. They were not as sophisticated as propaganda and disinformation itself. And therefore, we decided that we need to create something new with a fresh start that addresses those specific manipulation tactics. We need to realize that we are in an information vortex and these winds can have a negative effect on our minds. My job as a Learn to Discern trainer is to help my students use common sense and critical thinking when working with all these different information streams. Through L2D program we were able to reach 15,000 Ukrainians and provide them with different types of skills such as verifying expert credentials, debunking photos videos, detecting censorship and hate speech, as well as allowing them to ensure that they are not emotionally manipulated. I was thinking, what is the best way to test other materials? And I sent some handouts to my grandma, my babushka, in one week she called me and say Marina, now I understood why a lot of Ukrainian channels show good news about Ukrainian oligarchs because they are actually owners of these channels. And I was like yes, it works. By teaching people the skills of how to tell what’s true, what’s not in the media and how to discern disinformation, misinformation, and propaganda, we create bigger demand for good quality information and that’s why we focused on people who actually consume the news. This is a valuable tool for Ukrainian citizens, but its value extends beyond Ukraine’s borders and I think could be very valuable in numerous countries including in the West. Because it is not about telling people what to watch, telling them how to select their source of information, it’s not about being pro-EU or pro-Russia in Ukraine. It’s not about being Republican or Democrat in America. It’s about making up your own mind about what you read and see and hear.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *