UNESCO launches a new model curriculum for combatting disinformation

| 12 september 2018

How to teach journalism in the digital era and, in particular, how to make disinformation part of the curriculum? UNESCO has now introduced a new model curriculum with practical lessons and exemplary assigments to show how disinformation can become part of course syllabi in journalism education.

In seven chapters, the publication Journalism, 'Fake News' and Disinformation: A Handbook for Journalism Education and Training addresses the importance of trust, defines the concept disinformation and related concepts mis- and mal-information (with a strong rejection of the term ’fake news’), and the spread of disinformation in social media.

The handbook also provides tools and practices for fact-checking and data verification, as well as dealing with the online targeting of journalists and sources. Every chapter, called as a module, contains a framework and a lesson with assignments.

According to UNESCO, the publication is a call for action. Journalism needs to proactively detect and uncover new cases and forms of disinformation, and this is a critical mission for the news media.

The model curriculum is part of UNESCO’s initiative in supporting journalism education within its International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC). UNESCO has earlier published three model curricula: Teaching Journalism for Sustainable Development: New Syllabi (2015), Model Curriculum for Journalism Education: A Compendium of New Syllabi (2013), and Model Curriculum on Journalism Education (2007).

Besides journalism educators, groups of users who may benefit from the publication are, according to UNESCO, practicing journalists and editors, political parties, health professionals, business people, researchers, and election monitors.

Read more:
Download the report: Journalism, 'Fake News' and Disinformation: A Handbook for Journalism Education and Training
Background information on the publication by UNESCO
UNESCO Series for Journalism Education
UNESCO’s Global Initiative for Excellence in Journalism Education (PDF)


The contributors of the publication include Magda Abu-Fadil (Director of Media Unlimited), Fergus Bell (founder of Dig Deeper Media), Hossein Derakhshan (Fellow at Shorenstein Center at Harvard’s Kennedy School), Cherilyn Ireton (director of the World Editors Forum within the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers WAN-IFRA), Alexios Mantzarlis (leader of the International Fact-Checking Network at the Poynter Institute), Alice Matthews (news journalist at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation ABC), Julie Posetti (Senior Research Fellow at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford), Tom Trewinnard (Programme Lead on Meedan’s open source verification toolkit Check), and Claire Wardle (the Executive Director of First Draft).