StudyWorld 2018 Lindsey Hilsum Keynote Speaker

StudyWorld keynote: educators and journalists urged to unite against fake news

“News literacy” should be taught in schools from an early age. As educators we need to help people learn how to identify fake news, according to a leading UK journalist.

In a passionate address, StudyWorld keynote Lindsey Hilsum, international editor for Channel 4 News, said that events including the 2008 economic crash and resulting austerity had helped lead to a situation where it was illegal to give a child migrant in Hungary a toy. It had also led to Brexit and the election of Donald Trump as US President; a man who accuses the media of “fake news”.

But, she said, there was much actual “fake news” available that it was hard for younger people in particular to distinguish between what was true and what was not. Education is key in helping young people navigate modern media and all sources of information.

StudyWorld: teachers need to educate young people to look at news sources

“There is so much information out there. We who are mostly educated and a bit older know that something you read in the New York Times is different to what you get from a random YouTuber,” she said. “Now teachers need to educate young people to see whether things are true or not. Is it an anonymous source? This stuff is really needed.

“Of course, we all know it’s more complicated than that. There’s a diversity of views, but at the moment young people are coming up without any of the tools they need to understand how news happens.”

Lindsey, who began her career as an aid worker and has since reported on some of the biggest international news stories, including the Arab Spring, the Rwanda genocide, the Syrian conflict and the coming of refugees to Europe, said “I’m not fine with people saying what I do is fake news, but you can disagree with me.”

Educators bring people together and are the face of Britain

Lindsey told the StudyWorld delegates: “You are such important people – you are bridging these divides, bringing people together, making cultural connections. You are so important as a face of Britain; you are the face of Britain, welcoming and understanding and thoughtful and discriminating in the terms of critical thinking, understanding who people are where coming from what is fake and real.”

She concluded: “When we talk about things that are wrong in the world we are depressed. But it comes back to individuals. You as educators bringing people from places with no freedom of expression to places with freedom of expression.

“We have to fight for it but you can stay what you want and disagree civilly but we have to hold on to that, that way of talking to each other. I am doing by going out, and you are doing that by bringing people here and building those bridges. Sometimes I think educators might be more important than journalists.”

Grainne Casey of IH Aberdeen was one of many delegates bowled over by Lindsey’s address. She said: “It was incredible – it connected the dots, and it was beautiful. You could have heard a pin drop all the way through. It made me feel more inspired in what we do, connecting people throughout the world and about removing barriers. We do care we do care and all that in the middle of marketing event is a really good thing.”

Laura Rose-Troup, head of international at Newcastle College, added: “I think the keynote speech was just fantastic, one of the best I have heard. It was really enjoyable: she was an excellent speaker.”

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