During an intense 2-day hackathon developers from all over Europe gathered in Paris to build prototypes for the Media Literacy Toolkit for Newsroom programme.

Alexandra Peng
Jun 24 · 5 min read

After a series of unconferences in Brussels, Vienna, and Lisbon, the Media Literacy Toolkit for Newsrooms — a year-long programme by the Global Editors Network supported by the European Commission — moved on to the next stage: A hackathon in Paris with the goal to build prototypes of the proposed tools.

Other than GEN’s usual Editors Labs’ hackathons, this one focused on gathering mainly developers, who had an interest in fighting misinformation, were curious and liked to work in teams, and ideally had some experience in the news and media industry. It was not a competition, but developers from all over Europe worked together in teams to build the most suitable prototypes for the toolkit.

The brainwork and prototypes of the developers were proudly presented during the GEN Summit 2019 in Athens, Greece from 13–15 June, during the verification session ‘Media Literacy for Journalists: new tools and ways to fight misinformation with their audiences’ (see video here).

Let’s hack for media literacy!

On day 1, participants got into three teams to focus on one tool: A video game for children; an online and mobile app for journalism students and their professors; and a plug-in for newsrooms and journalists.

After an intense brainstorming session, they were ready to dive in and questions like what functions have to be included, how to operate the tools, how to tackle the challenge of multilingual media content in Europe had to be answered, while coming up with a working prototype in only two days.

Diving straight into the programming process!

After the first day, lots of progress has been made already and teams were ready to pitch their ideas at the end of the day.

Day 2 was focused on getting the ideas to work, it was an intense hacking sprint to get everything done in time for the big presentation at the end of the day.

Lots of post-its with great ideas to support the final hacking sprint!

The results of the hard work

After two days of brainstorming, designing, coding, networking, and collaborating, it was time to present the results of their hard work. The prototypes went into three different directions:

  1. Fight for Facts — A video game for young children
The map with ‘mini games’ for children to playfully learn more about misinformation.

This prototype aims to teach children playfully how to spot misinformation and what role misinformation plays in the news circle.

Not only is it important to teach children from a young age on how to spot misinformation, but also teaching them how to think critically when confronted with news, and these ‘mini games’ are a fun and educational way to teach them these skills.

2. ThinkLit — An online and mobile app for journalism students and professors

The yellow-marked texts are questions posted by professors. By clicking on the yellow-marked text students get an answer box to write down their findings.

This online and mobile application is able to transform any article into text-only by pasting the link of the article into the backend of the app. Then a professor is able to mark paragraphs and ask questions like ‘Investigate this statement’, ‘Fact-check these numbers’, etc. The students on the other hand can access the articles and see the questions posted by their professors, and should answer by pasting their sources into an answer box which will pop up when clicking on the marked sentences.

The aim is to enhance critical reading and thinking in the students and to train their fact-checking skills.

3. Seems Legit — A plug-in for newsrooms and journalists

Seems Legit is a browser extension which scans through an article and shows off a check-list for journalists to be aware of the content they’re about to publish.

The third tool was a plug-in which should help streamlining publication processes in the backend of a CMS by showing a check-list before the article gets published. The tool should help journalists to be more aware of the processes and to enhance transparency of their work by making sure that the content, links, media, data, sources, etc. are verified by highlighting them as already fact-checked and verified.

The goal of the plug-in is to add a machine learning model to it, so it’ll learn to identify errors like broken links, sources from news sites that are known to be untrusted, identifying and verifying UGC, etc.

What’s next?

The promising prototypes took the spotlight during the GEN Summit 2019 in Athens, Greece during the session on verification and media literacy for journalists (click here for more info). Together with media literacy experts Angie Pitt (NewsWise), Nikos Panagiotou (Artistotle University, Thessaloniki), and GEN’s programme manager Alexandra Peng as moderator, the session focused on the importance on media literacy for journalists and how to emphasise the necessity of media literacy for media makers.

Session on Media Literacy for Journalists together with GEN’s programme manager Alexandra Peng, Director of NewsWise Angie Pitt, and Assistant Professor at Aristotle University in Thessaloniki Nikos Panagiotou during the GEN Summit 2019 in Athens.

What comes after the GEN Summit? To finish building the tools for the toolkit. GEN will continue working with freelance developers to further develop the prototypes and to finish working on the toolkit to distribute them to newsrooms all over Europe.

If you’re interested in participating or want to contribute to the Media Literacy Toolkit for Newsrooms please get in touch and follow #GENMediaLit for an updated view on the programme, and all its get togethers over the year.

Click here and find out what happened during the GEN Summit 2019 in Athens!

Global Editors Network

The Global Editors Network (GEN) is a community committed to sustainable journalism and media innovation. GEN runs different programmes: Editors Lab, Startups for News, and the Data Journalism Awards.

Alexandra Peng

Written by

Programme Manager & Head of Media Partnerships at Global Editors Network. I like puppies, bad jokes, and Oxford commas.

Global Editors Network

The Global Editors Network (GEN) is a community committed to sustainable journalism and media innovation. GEN runs different programmes: Editors Lab, Startups for News, and the Data Journalism Awards.

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