WDR goes to schools with news literacy project “Lie Detectors” in Bonn & Düsseldorf

This autumn, journalists of the German regional broadcaster Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR) are teaming up with the award-winning European news literacy project “Lie Detectors” to launch an initiative about digital disinformation and the workings of professional journalism for students in Bonn and Düsseldorf.

To kick off, WDR journalists will attend a train-the-trainer workshop run by the non-profit organization Lie Detectors. They will be trained to deliver interactive sessions about exposing digital hoaxes and understanding the workings of quality journalism to children and adolescents aged 10-15.

From November 2019 to Easter 2020, journalists will be connected to and deployed in schools. If required, teachers and students will also be provided with educational material for follow-up. There is no cost to the schools.

“We are extremely keen to engage in a conversation about what fake news is, how it comes about and how falsehoods can be deciphered,” WDR editor-in-chief Ellen Ehni said about the joint project with Lie Detectors. “It is important to let viewers and users know early on how easily they can be duped, but also that in-depth and serious journalism counters such manipulation and makes a valuable contribution to our democracy.”

WDR has already been involved in school visits raising awareness about disinformation since the beginning of the year. These are now to be continued with Lie Detectors in a more intensive form.

Lie Detectors works in three countries. It is active in Germany, Austria and Belgium, in German, English and French. The project was awarded with the Digital Skills Award 2018 in the field of education by a jury appointed by the European Commission – a distinction highlighting the fact that the project can operate in different languages and schools across Europe.

“Above all, it is important to arouse interest and curiosity in the classroom, to teach children and adolescents why disinformation plays a role in their lives, and that there are tools to deal with it,” says Lie Detectors founder Juliane von Reppert-Bismarck, an award-winning journalist who runs the project from its headquarters in Brussels.

“The cooperation with the WDR is a wonderful opportunity to send journalists in North Rhine-Westphalia to classrooms outside of the media city of Cologne,” says Charlotte Carnehl, who heads the organization’s German programme.

The majority of students are already surfing on the internet and on social media and take on a lot of what circulates as “information“. With the help of participating journalists, the Lie Detectors project encourages 10-15-year-olds to develop their own media literacy skills in times of information overload. This will allow them to examine information independently and also to get an overview of how professional journalists collect, select and present facts. 

Lie Detectors is a non-profit organization that is philanthropically funded and accredited by the Belgian King Baudouin Foundation. As an advisory member of European expert groups, the organisation is also committed to the systematic inclusion and uptake of news literacy in curricula at schools and pedagogical colleges.

If you are interested in a school visit: Teachers and school social workers are welcome to contact Lie Detectors: just write to Charlotte Carnehl charlotte@lie-detectors.org or Margit Langenbein margit@lie-detectors.org. Teachers only need the following for a Lie Detectors visit: 90 minutes, a beamer, a blackboard, ideally Internet access and, of course, bright students of the 5th/6th grade and 8th/9th grade. In addition, one or more desired dates, and you must be present during the visit.

More information about Lie Detectors

More information about WDR at michael.strempel@wdr.de