The BBC will be sending journalists into schools to tell pupils about their conception of “fake news” and urge youngsters to read news sources they approve of.
From March next year, the national broadcaster will offer up to 1,000 pupils “mentoring” in the classroom and online to “help them spot so-called fake news”.
High profile and well-paid BBC newsreaders including Kamal Ahmed, Tina Daheley, Amol Rajan, and Huw Edwards will take part.
James Harding, the outgoing director of BBC news and current affairs, said: “Never has it been so important for young people to develop their critical thinking and to be news literate, and have the skills to filter out fakery from the truth, especially on their busy social media feeds.
“BBC News, as the most trusted news provider and home of Reality Check, is ideally placed to bring this project to schools and young people around the country.”
In a report on the Newsround programme, aimed at school children, a BBC reporter described fake news as articles where facts “aren’t clear” or are “exaggerated to mean what [the writer] wants it to”.
— BBC Newsround (@BBCNewsround) December 6, 2017
Beth Hewitt, who is in charge of the project, said the lessons are “important because if young people stop feeling they can believe the news is true, they could stop trusting the media at all and even switch off from finding out what’s happening all around the world”.
Speaking on a Facebook live video, BBC newsreader Huw Edwards said much of the focus would be on Brexit and the election of Donald J. Trump as U.S. president.
He said: “We saw some of it [fake news] around the Brexit process here. But, I thought, not nearly as much as some of the stuff I saw in the U.S. last year reported on the election there.”
He added that the most serious example of fake news was “trying to interfere in the election process”, appearing to promote a view common of the political left that people were tricked into voting for President Trump by fake news.
The BBC’s report on their school initiative highlighted “a satirical story claiming that the Pope had endorsed Trump for president, which was widely circulated as an established fact”.