FACT vs FAKE - Enhancing Key Civic Competences for the Post-truth Era: News Literacy and Critical Thinking Project

FACT vs FAKE - Enhancing Key Civic Competences for the Post-truth Era: News Literacy and Critical Thinking Project


In a world where the role of media has been so strong that the term ‘mediacracy’ has frequently been used to describe it, the need for news literate citizens is apparent. The Covid-19 pandemic showed how big the power of disinformation and fake news is, and how people can be confused by various conflicting news.

Since October 2020, Belgrade City Library has been implementing a two-year international project ESSENTIAL – "Enhancing Key Civic Competences for the Post-truth Era: News Literacy and Critical Thinking". This strategic partnership project is supported by the European Commission under the Erasmus+ Programme. Along with the Belgrade City Library as the project coordinator, three other foreign partners from Turkey (Hacettepe University), Slovenia (UPI - ljudska univerza Žalec), and Latvia (National Library of Latvia) are participating. Turkish fact checking platform is associate partner.

The overall project objective is to contribute to the development of self-aware citizens who think critically and have developed news literary skills which is aprecondition to relevantly and efficiently participate in social and democratic processes of their communities and at European level. Specific project objectives are:

  • To improve the human and digital (online) resources of 4 partner institutions, more than 50 associated partners and other stakeholders in the field of critical thinking and news literacy, to actively and permanently educate citizens in this field.
  • To improve critical thinking and news literacy skills of adults (and younger people) from 4 partner countries and all those who know English language across Europe and the globe, by creating educational online course as well as by onsite courses that will be permanently organized by partner institutions and other involved stakeholders.
  • Creating a virtual education place (MOOC) where adult teachers/trainers from 4 partner countries and across Europe will be able to acquire or improve their knowledge on news literacy; MOOC will also be a tool/resource for them to use it during the teaching process.

The project intends to raise awareness of the importance of critical thinking and understanding of media content, both for a citizen as an individual and for the development of a democratic society in general.

Project main results, so called the intellectual outputs are:

  1. News Literacy and Critical Thinking Skills in the Post-truth Era Study Report[1] 

The study report consists of two main chapters. The first is devoted to the sublimation of theoretical texts and reflections on the news. It enables the reader to get better acquainted with the phenomenon of news, fake news, misinformation, algorithms, news sources, ways of placing and sharing news, understanding news, disinformation channels, etc. The final part of the first chapter introduces in detail the reader to the so-called term news literacy, which is in fact a critical understanding of the news. The second chapter at the beginning gives brief overviews of the state of media and news literacy in the countries from which the partners come (Latvia, Slovenia, Turkey and Serbia). Afterwards, an analysis of an extensive questionnaire related to new literacy conducted in these countries is presented. The results of the analysis show to what extent this type of literacy has been developed and what are the needs of citizens regarding education in this area. By reading this study, one will gain a clear insight into the meaning and importance of news literacy in modern society.

  1. News Literacy Training Course Curriculum[2] 

The Curriculum consists of 17 modules grouped into three sections: 1. Understanding the news landscape; 2. Media and journalism and 3. Thinking critically about news (how to consume news critically). Each of the modules contains: module description, module structure, guidelines for trainees, educational content, exercises, quiz, references, useful literature and links. The training course is written in English and translated in Serbian, Turkish, Slovenian and Latvian. The course is designed for everyone who wants to improve their knowledge of news literacy, as well as for educators who want to share knowledge in this area with others. In this regard, it is free to download and use the material.

  1. News Literacy: Guidelines for Trainers[3]

The Guidelines are designed for people who want to teach news literacy to others: librarians, teachers, trainers and others who are already or want to be involved in adult education, respectively news literacy. It consists of two parts. The first part gives general instructions for working with adults and presents the characteristics of adult learners, different roles that a trainer can have, learning methods and techniques. The second part provides a guide for preparing and implementing each of the 17 separate workshops (modules) in news literacy that is described in detail in the News Literacy Training Course Curriculum. The Guidelines provide specific instructions to trainers on implementing workshops within the training course in question. It is available in English, Serbian, Turkish, Slovenian and Latvian. The Guidelines are licensed under a Creative Commons license and as such are free to download and use, with reference to the source.

  1. Online Course on News Literacy (in English)[4]

The Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on news Literacy is the main project result, and includes previosly prepared Curriculum and Guidelines. It has two segments: the first one is designed to help individuals to develop the critical thinking skills needed to assess the trustworthiness and credibility of the news, while the second segment will enable educators (such as librarians) to teach news literacy to others. By the end of August 2022, it will be posted on the project's website and will be free to use, under the Creative Commons license.

As part of the project, a special informative and educational website has been created, , where one can follow all the activities within the project, and to find all the educational materials created during the project.

With this project, significant open educational resources have been created to strengthen citizens' news literacy. And partner organizations have developed innovative services and improved their human resources in this area.

The project’s formal completion will be in September 2022.

A note:

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This article reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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