Ireland to lead global initiative to tackle ‘fake news’ on migration

Programme aims to boost media literacy by training students to identify misinformation

Tom Felle, head of journalism and communications at NUI Galway, at a flag raising to mark the launch of the Global Migration Media  Academy.

Tom Felle, head of journalism and communications at NUI Galway, at a flag raising to mark the launch of the Global Migration Media Academy.

 

A global initiative to challenge “fake news” on migration and immigration is being spearheaded by NUI Galway, the International Organisation for Migration and Irish Aid.

The Global Migration Media Academy will involve media literacy programmes to train students and journalists to identify, challenge and debunk misinformation.

The programmes will establish learning hubs in Ireland, Mexico, Morocco, Philippines and Serbia with the aim of providing media training on migration and strengthening ethical and accurate reporting as part of established undergraduate and Masters programmes in universities.

There are plans to expand the project to other countries as the programme evolves.

The project is co-funded by the International Organisation for Migration and Irish Aid, with the development of the global foundational course being led by Tom Felle, head of the discipline of journalism and communications at NUI Galway.

False narratives

Research indicates that false narratives are being created and shared widely on social media, in populist political parties and among far-right groups in an attempt to sow division and to influence public opinion.

The Global Media Migration Academy will develop e-learning and training material to tackle fake news.

There will be focus on misinformation and disinformation around migration, including training students on identifying and tracking harmful content; digital forensics and verification techniques; and data journalism.

Courses will draw on migration research and data, as well as exploring how unfolding global developments like Covid-19 influence migration and public attitudes.

Students will be encouraged to explore the complex topic of migration from different perspectives and publish compelling, nuanced and evidence-based stories.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said the last 12 months have shown how important our news and news sources are for keeping us informed and educated.

“While fake news is a danger that more and more people are aware of, countering it or revealing it isn’t something that many know how to do,” he said,

“Therefore, I warmly welcome this important initiative from NUI Galway and Irish Aid to tackle misinformation and fake news being spread about migration.”

Respect

Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, president of NUI Galway, said by championing respect and openness, he hoped the project will have a transformative effect on society, in Ireland and internationally.

“Our journalism academics are international experts in media literacy and it is an honour for them to work with the International Organisation for Migration on this vitally important international project, as supported by Irish Aid, which will have far-reaching positive learning for society,” he said.

Lalini Veerassamy, chief of mission of the International Organisation for Migration in Ireland, said it will work with the university to develop standardised training tools on media and migration.

She said the course will equip journalists from all over the world with the tools to develop more balanced and accurate narratives on migration which, in turn, will reduce the spread of misinformation.

Research indicates there is a gap in specialist training for media on the multiple dimensions of migration, even though the media plays a fundamental role in shaping public opinion and debate on the subject.

The Global Media project aims to establish an e-learning platform and media training network with accredited modules which focus on evidence-based ethical reporting and knowledge-sharing.