Irish initiative to tackle fake news on migration

Irish initiative to tackle fake news on migration

A group of migrants walk between the tents in the new refugee camp of Kara Tepe, in the island of Lesbos. Picture: Anthi Pazianou/AFP via Getty Images

An Irish-backed initiative is launching a project to challenge fake news around migration.

The Global Migration Media Academy, a partnership between NUI Galway and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), is seeking to tackle fake news and disinformation around the issue.

The media plays a fundamental role in helping shape public opinion and debate, but research from here and abroad has shown that when it comes to complex issues like migration, there can often be a gap in the specialist training needed to properly address them.

The academy, which is co-funded by the IOM Development Fund and Irish Aid, will provide media literacy training for students and journalists to help them spot, address and debunk misinformation.

The project will establish initial learning hubs here in Ireland, and also in Mexico, Serbia, Morocco and the Philippines.

Further hubs will be established in other countries as the initiative evolves.

Courses on the project will focus on data journalism, digital forensics and verification techniques, and how to identify and track harmful false content.

Project participants will examine the issue of migration from different perspectives and publish more nuanced, evidence-based stories on it.

Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said there was a real need for tools that help people separate real news from fake news.

"The last 12 months have shown us all how important our news and news sources are for keeping us informed and educated," he said.

"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."

Chief of mission with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in Ireland Lalini Veerassamy, said she hopes the academy will help advance narratives around the issue of migration.

"As we establish the Global Migration Media Academy, it is key to have a reputable academic institution such as NUI Galway working with us to develop standardised training tools on media and migration," she said.

"The global foundation course, which will be contextualised to reflect different migration dynamics at a national and regional level will equip journalists from all over the world with the necessary tools to develop more balanced and accurate narratives on migration which in turn will reduce the spread of misinformation."

The partnership will establish an e-learning platform and media training network with accredited modules, all of which will focus on evidence-based ethical reporting and knowledge-sharing.

NUI Galway is also planning to host a Summer School for participants in mid-2022.

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