BBC journalists will be heading back to school in a bid to tackle fake news.
The corporation is sending a team of reporters, including News At Ten’s Huw Edwards, across the UK to mentor youngsters in secondary schools and sixth forms.
Pupils will even be given the chance to play a journalist in the heart of a newsroom as part of a new game created by animation studios, Aardman.
From March up to 1,000 schools will be offered mentoring in class, online or at events, with classroom activities and video tutorials.
Announcing the initiative during a speech at the children’s global media summit in Manchester on Tuesday, director-general Lord Tony Hall said a BBC reporter had recently visited a school to hear youngsters distinguish between fact and fiction.
“I have to say, it was alarming to see how even these bright, very savvy, very switched on pupils struggle to cope with the volume of information coming at them every day,” he said.
“When they were asked to tell the difference between real and fake news headlines, they asked themselves all the right questions – Does the source seem trustworthy? Does it look plausible? – But they arrived at all the wrong conclusions.
“It was really hard for them even to recognise that different agendas were at play – let alone to understand what they were. We at the BBC have a real responsibility here,” he added.
“By sharing our journalistic expertise, we want to give young people the skills and awareness they need to be confident about identifying the real news stories, and calling out the fakes.”
A reality check roadshow will tour the country and local schools will be able to nominate their own reality checker pupils to attend one of a dozen regional events.
The initiative, which also involves reporters Tina Daheley, Nikki Fox, Kamal Ahmed and Amol Rajan, will be delivered by the BBC’s media literacy project School Report – a collaboration between BBC Academy and BBC News.
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.”
Neil Pymer, Aardman’s interactive creative director, said: “Navigating through the murky waters of what’s real or fake news can be a difficult challenge in an age where it’s become such a prolific part of the media landscape.
“We’re proud to be working with the BBC to create a game that promotes news literacy and simulates the fast-paced world of news production. At Aardman, we believe passionately that games can bring about understanding in ways traditional media can’t. By immersing players in the heady world of journalism, we hope we can inspire and inform young people.”