Campaign urges public to be ‘media smart’

A new public awareness campaign launched to coincide with European Media Literacy Week (18-22 March) has been unveiled to encourage people of all ages to check that information they see, read or hear across any media platform is reliable.

Evidence cited by those leading the campaign shows that 83% of Europeans think so-called fake news — a term popularised by US President Donald Trump — is a threat to democracy. A further 63% say they come across fake news at least once a week.

The Be Media Smart campaign is designed to help people recognise unreliable sources of information as well as identifying deliberately false or misleading information.

It will enhance people’s understanding of, and engagement with media, while also empowering them with the skills to evaluate content across all platforms. Evidence supports the necessity for a media literate population:

73% of European internet users are concerned about disinformation in the pre-election period.

68% of Europeans say they come across fake news at least once a week.

Be Media Smart has been devised by Media Literacy Ireland (MLI), a network of volunteer members working together to empower people to make informed media choices.

  • The campaign advises media consumers to:

  • Read more than the headline. It won’t give you the full story.
  • Don’t assume that a picture or photo is giving you the whole story.
  • Just because information goes viral doesn’t mean it’s accurate.
  • Think carefully about what the information is for.
  • Consider your own biases.
  • See if the information is being reported anywhere else. If it’s not, it could be because it is inaccurate, unreliable or out of date.
  • Find out the source. Knowing who created the information will help you judge what their motivation is.
  • Look at the detail to check for accuracy.
  • Ask the experts.

Professor Brian O’Neill, chair of the MLI steering group, said the campaign was “built around bringing the same level of care to one’s information sources as one would of their food provenance or car history.”

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