Internet is both a blessing and a curse. Why? On paper, it offers you to connect with people easily, to play games, and also offers you access to hundreds of information. But in reality, many of the things you read on the internet are questionable and even ridiculous compared to the real situation.
In the 21st century, it’s especially easy to stay informed and tuned with the current events in the world regarding important topics. All the hot topics are just a click away, and it’s in the curious human nature to want to reach them. However, a problem occurs: there are numerous fake news, clickbaits, manipulative stories and other false information used to get views and clicks, but also spreading panic among the people. The project “Newsfakers” that took place from 23rd to 30th of August addressed that specific problem – the inability to differentiate real from fake news and how to improve it.
Our project venue in Spain, in a quiet area near Castrillo de la Vega, really helped us focus on the topic thanks to the beautiful nature, the distance from the crowds and the peace it brought us. Every day we had an opportunity to work in teams with people from all the participating countries: Spain, Latvia, Lithuania, Turkey, and of course, our country. The practical opportunities in the project were the best way to learn, so we analyzed real articles, prepared different stories, learned how the media can reflect the situation in its own advantage and also presented how journalism works on a national level. During the period of the workshops, we learned to distinguish fake news from real news, but also formed true, strong friendships, and recognized the need to think rationally and not let emotions lead us into believing a certain title and information. Thanks to the amazing facilitators and their amusing energizers and games, the workshops were always full of positive energy, laughter, but also full dedication to the project topic. A great activity was the opportunity to act as facilitators for a day, meaning to organize a workshop based on your interests and passions and also to participate in other people’s workshops. I love how it gave us space to show a fun, unique side of ourselves. I was the facilitator of a meditation session, and our group had tons of fun. I love how even though the topic was highly covered, there was also diversity in the activities and the project wasn’t monotonous at all.
My favorite workshop was an analysis of a real article that we had, checking the credibility of it via the ways we learned, going in depth of the journalist’s previous work, the source, the words used, and much more that we learned on the workshops. I think it’s a very useful skill to have in everyday life, because it’s so easy to fall under the impression that what we are reading is real and unbiased, and it is normal for that to cause certain emotions in us, usually negative ones like panic, fear and anger.
The media doesn’t realize that more views are earned if it shows itself as trustworthy and reliable, but rather chooses to use the platform to promote the side of the story they want to show, even if it’s not true. This project was a perfect opportunity to realize that, whilst working with amazing people from different countries, sharing our experiences, having lots of fun and giving important ideas on how to spread awareness. We also had one day reserved for a trip to Burgos that was a part of the project, and it was a nice opportunity to see the beauties of Spain and spend some time together, strengthen our bonds, meet each other, which was very beneficial for the further work.
Overall, the project was both educational and super fun, and I am really happy to be a part of it. We came back home suntanned, full of lovely memories, with many more friends, but also more aware of the ingenuine side of news and how to handle it. It is hard in this modern age to stay unbiased, but this project pushed us to our goal to be realistic, well-informed, and most importantly sane and never manipulated.