By Ellen O’Donoghue
Co- News Editor
An international partnership of NUI Galway, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and Irish Aid is to offer media training on migration and misinformation.
A new global partnership has been established, involving NUI Galway and the (IOM), with the support of Irish Aid, to tackle fake news around migration.
The Global Migration Media Academy is an initiative led by IOM, involving media literacy programmes to train students and journalists to identify, challenge and debunk misinformation.
The project is co-funded by the IOM Development Fund and Irish Aid, with the development of the global foundational course being led by NUI Galway’s own, Tom Felle, Head of the Discipline of Journalism and Communications.
“It is a real feather in the cap for NUI Galway to be the lead academic partner working with the United Nations migration agency IOM on this incredibly important global project, co-funded by the Irish Government through Irish Aid and the Department of Foreign Affairs,” Felle said, adding that “So-called ‘fake news’ around migration has reached endemic proportions, and it is having a detrimental impact on the lives of migrants globally. Disinformation is spread all too easily on social media and in the mainstream press, often created by right wing groups and populist political parties, and viewed by millions of people worldwide.
“The Discipline of Journalism and Communication at NUI Galway will be leading this project and working with partners in four pilot countries – Mexico, the Philippines, Morocco and Serbia – to train journalists and journalist students on how to recognise and debunk false information, but also on how to report responsibly on migrants and the migrant experience.” He finished.
President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said, “Projects such as this speak directly to two of our core values: respect and openness. By championing respect and openness, we hope to have a transformative effect on society, in Ireland and internationally, setting a positive example of excellence beyond our University.
“Our journalism academics are international experts in media literacy, and it is an honour for them to work with the IOM on this vitally important international project, as supported by Irish Aid, which will have far-reaching positive learning for society,” he finished.
The European Policy Centre has previously stated that “false narratives have and continue to be created and shared widely on social media, in populist political parties and among far-right groups in an attempt to sow division and to influence public opinion – alarmingly with serious political implications.”
The Foundation for European Progressive Studies in Brussels has carried out research on harmful content relating to migration in a number of EU countries.
Fear and lying in the EU: Fighting disinformation on migration with alternative narratives, reported that harmful content widely shared online and on social media platforms around migration was rampant.
16% of the content was outright false, 26% being unverifiable, with 34% classed as misleading and 23% seen as distorted.
Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, has come out in support of the partnership, saying, “The last 12 months have shown us all how important our news and news sources are for keeping us informed and educated. 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. Therefore, I warmly welcome this important initiative from NUI Galway and Irish Aid to tackle misinformation and fake news being spread about migration.”
The Global Migration Media Academy will develop e-learning and training material to tackle fake news.
The Academy is a unique platform to standardize and mainstream media training on migration and strengthen ethical and accurate reporting.
There will be a focus on misinformation and disinformation around migration, including training students on identifying and tracking harmful content, digital forensics and verification techniques, and data journalism.
Courses are to draw on migration research and data, as well as exploring how unfolding global developments like Covid-19 influence migration and public attitudes.
Students at both established undergraduate and masters’ programmes in Universities will be encouraged to explore the complex topic of migration from different perspectives and publish compelling, nuanced and evidence-based stories.
NUI Galway also plan to host a Summer School for participants in 2022.
Further information about IOM is available at https://www.iom.int/about-iom