Residing in Feroke City, Calicut District, is Fathima, a twenty-seven-year-old aspiring journalist. She is a student at Media One Academy, Kozhikode, Kerala, an institute dedicated to imparting theoretical ability and industrial readiness to journalism students.
Among the many activities that the Academy hosts for the students was a media and information literacy workshop that FactShala trainer Habeeb Rahman decided to conduct for these students. Habeeb’s primary goal of hosting the workshop was simple yet essential:
“The media industry is experiencing a comparatively higher competition, where journalists are forced to give news first. However, in this race of beating others, the first casualty is the verifiability of news. Media literacy among media students will help instill in them a habit of verification in their personal and professional lives, ensuring greater reliability and accuracy in their work”
An ardent media student, Fathima sat through the workshop, absorbing all the valuable information shared by Habeeb. The three-hour workshop ended up being eye-opening for Fathima in multiple aspects. A few days before attending the workshop, Fathima received a fake social media message about a job vacancy. However, she couldn’t identify the falsity of the social media forward and ended up sharing it in all her messaging groups. She only realized that the message was fake while attending the workshop. Fathima also came to the realization that numerous videos shared by a motivational speaker she followed on social media were misleading and inaccurate.
These instances forced her to wonder,
“If someone like me who is studying media could not differentiate between fake and genuine messages, how does an average person, with limited knowledge of media literacy do it on a daily basis”
Speaking on the major takeaways from the workshop, Fathima said, “The most important thing in the workshop was the examples he showed, especially the recent ones that we had all taken for granted as true and accurate. Those examples really helped us understand the depth of consequences that misinformation can have on society”. The training also equipped Fathima with the basic tools to verify information online, such as keyword search and reverse image search.
Fathima packed all the learnings from the workshop and resolved to put them into practice wherever possible. She actively went around her college, sharing media literacy tips and tricks with the staff members, and conversed with her friends to foster a more media-literate environment on campus.
However, the perfect opportunity presented itself during Eid, a festival that signifies the gathering and uniting of families and communities. Fathima seized this chance to impart to her friends and family the fundamentals of media literacy.
Social media family groups often become melting pots of misinformation, where members share and forward messages without proper verification, leading to a chain reaction of spreading inaccurate information. Fathima gathered her family in a room with members spanning different generations and unpacked her learnings from Habeeb’s workshop. She also utilized the FactShala tipsheets provided to her during the training.
Though it was a bit challenging for Fathima to explain the technical jargon to the elders of the family, their eagerness to learn made the session worthwhile. This time with her family enabled her to make the family social media groups sources of reliable information rather than vehicles for spreading misinformation.
Further, she took out some time with her friends before an Iftar meeting. Being heavy users of social media like Fathima, they often came across posts and videos that they had no way of knowing were fake or not. Fathima shared her learnings with them and demonstrated how they can use simple tools like Google Search or Google Lens to verify the credibility of any information whenever they have any doubts.
Fathima skilfully utilized the get-togethers during Eid to not just enjoy the festivities but also take media and information literacy to as many people as possible.
FactShala helped Fathima instill in her friends and family a habit of fact-checking and verifying messages and news before forwarding them. The vision that drove Habeeb to host the training for the students of the MediaOne Academy was successfully and efficiently carried forward by Fathima to her family and community.