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Our Mission

Our award-winning news literacy project aims to turn schoolchildren in Europe aged 10-15 into powerful lie detectors and critical thinkers in a world increasingly populated by propaganda and distorted facts online, empowering them to understand news media, make informed choices and resist peer pressure as they assemble their worldview.

  • We turn working journalists and selected media experts into active participants in the drive for news literacy, creating positive contact between journalists and children as well as their teachers. As of December 2019, we have trained 200 journalists.
  • We attune teachers to digital media risks, to the tools available to counter it, and to the benefits and relevance of further classroom discussion of a topic often relegated to IT lessons and after-school clubs.
  • We create memorable classroom experiences and lasting awareness of children’s own participation in social networks; to propel pupils into an ongoing conversation of news consumption and verifying news.
  • We provide a link between schools and the very best existing news-literacy and news-verification initiatives.
  • We influence educational policy-making through continued public speaking in varied fora, advocating for the systematic uptake and inclusion of news literacy in the curricula of teacher-training colleges and classrooms across Europe, as urged by Unesco and OECD. As part of this remit, LIE DETECTORS was a member of the EU’s new High Level Group on Fake News, advising the European Commission on how to tackle the spread and socio-economic impact of disinformation.

Why it matters

LIE DETECTORS works to improve news literacy, increase awareness of misinformation and further the general public’s understanding of the mainstream media industry. It promotes positive and non-political contact between young people and journalists. It does this by sending working journalists into schools to deliver interactive classroom sessions.

Fake news creates a confusing, frightening world for people of all ages, pressuring them into adopting views without understanding their intention. LIE DETECTORS is a non-profit that helps teenagers and pre-teens learn how to spot and resist the growing volume of manipulative media crowding their Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat accounts as they start to forge an independent world view. A proliferation of news and fake-news sources, distribution networks and social media – combined with a greater polarisation by mainstream press – make it increasingly hard to tell fact from fiction. Growing numbers of young people report being turned off politics because of a feeling of alienation in the face of misinformation.

LIE DETECTORS has no interest in telling young people what to think. It aims to empower them to base their choices on reliable information and be actively aware of bias and persuasion. Children worldwide are taught not to accept sweets from strangers. As they consume more media, they need news literacy to do so wisely.

How we do it

LIE DETECTORS deploys journalists and selected media experts to teach classroom sessions, recruiting them primarily from alumni circles of recognised journalism schools. The project operates in Austria, Belgium and Germany, with more countries to follow. Classroom sessions are free of charge.

Professional journalists and media experts teach the 90-minute sessions in the presence of a teacher, offering follow-up material where desired. Sessions include an overview of fake news, methods of testing for misinformation, and analysis of drivers of the fake-news phenomenon. Interactive sections – designed to suit the relevant age group – help children understand how mainstream media selects news and may insert bias to present a picture of reality that is often incomplete. Material for homework or follow-up sessions – where requested – allows children to develop deeper a understanding of selective storytelling and perspective. All services offered to classrooms are free of charge and aim to reach a broad and diverse range of schools in Europe.

LIE DETECTORS has experienced intense interest in its pilot program from schools, journalists, potential funders and policymakers. As of December 2019, it has

  • designed and tested classroom sessions lasting 90 minutes for target age groups and collected feedback from more than 8500 children and their teachers*;
  • successfully transferred the sessions from Belgium (French and English-speaking classrooms) to Germany and Austria (German-speaking classrooms);
  • trained and enrolled 200 journalists for classroom visits;
  • introduced the project to lawmakers, politicians, journalists, teachers and the general public at closed-door and public events with audiences ranging from 50 to 15,000 in Germany, Belgium, Bosnia&Herzegovina and Denmark among others. LIE DETECTORS has presented its concept to an audience of 15,000 at the Leipzig Festival of Light, which commemorates the German city’s role in ending communism.
  • won the European Commission’s 2018 EU Digital skills award for its work in education. The awards are granted to recognise initiatives that have improved the digital skills of Europeans at school, at work, for ICT specialists, for girls and women and in society in general.

At its inception, the work of LIE DETECTORS work is aimed predominantly but not exclusively at school-aged children and their teachers, with a view to increasing general interest in and access to news literacy programs in Europe. LIE DETECTORS is currently active in Belgium, Germany and Austria. It will expand operations in these countries and pursue partnerships with relevant collaborating bodies to expand its program to other European countries. Countries currently being considered include the Netherlands and Poland.

LIE DETECTORS is a member of the European Commission’s High Level Expert Group on Digital Disinformation and Fake News, a 39-member advisory body launched in 2018 with the goal of proposing lasting solutions to online disinformation. Its principal aim within this group is to boost critical media and news literacy across Europe and to advocate for media and information literacy to be both taught in teacher training colleges across Europe and to be adopted as a key gauge for school ratings such as the OECD’s Pisa rankings.

LIE DETECTORS is non-political and its remit universal. It takes no funding from corporations including internet platforms. The success of LIE DETECTORS should be judged on the number of classrooms it reaches and its ability to operate across different countries, languages and cultures. It should be judged on the success of its aim to empower people to base choices on reliable information and be actively aware of bias and persuasion.

  • “Days after your presentation, they are still talking about the things they learned during your visit.” 5th grade form teacher, St. John’s International School, Waterloo, Belgium

  • “Can you come back next week?” 6th grade pupil, European School of Brussels, Belgium

  • “A good number teachers will be interested in being trained in media literacy by you as a journalist, also in order to follow up on your sessions.” Ciaran Foulds, religious studies teacher, European School of Brussels, Belgium

  • “It is good that I learn this now, and not later, because we are a lot on social media and then it is important to know this.” Primary school student, Norwegian School, Waterloo, Belgium

  • “I also changed my news habits based on our conversation as I was aware I was consuming only progressive/liberal media and not hearing the other voices out there. I now have a more balanced news approach.” Ethics teacher, European School of Brussels, Belgium

  • “The Lie Detectors sessions have inspired us to add a point to our school’s mission statement: that we will raise a community of critical thinkers who respect other points of view and meet them with a curious mind.”David Ian Bogaerts, Director, Bogaerts International School, Brussels

  • “The Lie Detectors script works really well and the smartness of the kids is just exhilarating.”Sophie Ben Chamo Albers, European Centre for Press and Media Freedom, Stern/Spiegel journalist

  • “The teaching concept is convincing because it not only speaks about fake news but also addresses our weaknesses as journalists honestly. I learned at least as much from the children as they (hopefully) from me.”Sven Knobloch, TV contributor for German broadcaster MDR and media studies professor at the University of Leipzig

Who we are

JULIANE VON REPPERT-BISMARCK

Founder & CEO

Juliane created Lie Detectors and directs its activities, partnerships and strategy. She heads the organisation’s advocacy. She has advised governments, policy-makers and the EU on strategies to counter disinformation and radicalisation, including within the EU’s High-Level Expert Group on Fake News and its Media Literacy Expert Group. Juliane designed the concept, scripts and training approach of Lie Detectors. For this, she has been recognised both personally as an EU “Local Hero” and via the project’s awards and award shortlists. To create Lie Detectors, Juliane put aside an award-winning journalism career, during which she wrote for The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Reuters, MLex and Spiegel Online among others. She is an alumna of New York’s Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the University of Edinburgh and speaks German, English, Spanish and French.

JESSICA VAN ZINNICQ BERGMANN

Assistant to the CEO

Assisting the CEO, Jessica works on project-wide assignments and their implementation. Following the completion of her business degree and several years of experience in the commercial sector, Jessica completed a master’s degree in criminology and law at the University of Maastricht and sought a new career path in the non-profit sector.

ADELINE BRION

Acting Project Director & Country Programme Coordinator, Belgium

Experienced and passionate in non-profit project management, Adeline facilitates successful training workshops and journalist-led sessions in Belgian schools and keeps an eye on the Belgian news literacy landscape. Adeline graduated from both ULB and VUB and holds two complementary master’s degrees in literature and communication. More generally she is curious about media, education, culture and EU affairs. As a Brussels native, she speaks English, French and Dutch and is keen on enjoying the city’s secret terraces.

NELE BAUWENS

Lie Detectors Project Assistant

Nele assists in the organisation of school visits and workshops in Belgium, as well as project-wide assignments. She grew up in Ghent and speaks Dutch, French, English and German.  She holds a Master’s degree in literature from Ghent University as well as a degree in Conflict and Development Studies and has conducted field work on citizen journalism. Before joining Lie Detectors, Nele worked in the private sector.

CHARLOTTE CARNEHL

Country Programme Director, Germany

Charlotte heads the implementation of the Lie Detectors project within Germany and manages expansion within the country. She is an experienced non-profit professional who previously worked for organisations of the Robert Bosch Foundation. A political scientist by training, Charlotte has a special interest in the political impact of disinformation. She holds a master’s degree from the University of Massachusetts, teaches non-profit management at the University of Hamburg and is a Fulbright alumna.

MARGIT LANGENBEIN

Country Programme Assistant, Germany

Margit supports the Programme Director Germany with the expansion of the project across the country. She coordinates classroom visits and training workshops and is in frequent contact with schools and journalists. Previously, she worked for several years in event management and for a news agency, gaining profound management skills and insights into the work of journalists. Margit graduated from Hamburg University.

MAXIME-ROBERT GREWE

Student assistant, Germany

Maxime assists Lie Detectors Germany with all incoming tasks. At the moment he is pursuing his Master’s degree in Media Culture Analysis. In the course of his studies he mostly dealt with the topic of communications. Especially since his studies in Belgium he is interested in propaganda and the critical handling of media. Apart from German he speaks English, French and Serbian.

ANN-KATHRIN HORN

Journalist & Network Coordinator for Lie Detectors in Cologne

Ann-Kathrin is a freelance reporter for German public radio. A research trip to the US sensitized her to the issues surrounding media quality and media ethics, prompting her to set up news-literacy workshops and classroom visits upon her return to Germany. Following a meeting at a specialist conference dedicated to the subject, Ann-Kathrin and Lie Detectors decided to join forces. She has since built up a network of journalists and schools for Lie Detectors in Cologne and manages its organisation.

JOCHEN SPANGENBERG

media expert & senior consultant, Berlin

Jochen coordinates research and cooperation projects for Germany’s international public service broadcaster Deutsche Welle. His focus is on social newsgathering, verification of user-generated content and the use of eyewitness media for news reporting. He has a leading role in projects including REVEAL, InVID, Truly Media and WeVerify. Jochen also lectures at the Free University Berlin in Media & Communication Sciences. He is the author of the book The BBC in Transition and a number of papers, articles and book chapters. Previous to joining Deutsche Welle, Jochen was COO and Editor-in-Chief at a new media company and worked for BBC News & Current Affairs in radio and TV. Jochen supports Lie Detectors in its quest to bring media literacy into classrooms and raise awareness among young people on (news) media issues.

TIM DOMBROWSKI

Journalist, Media Literacy Expert &  Network Coordinator for Lie Detectors, Vienna

Tim organizes the Lie Detectors network between schools and journalists in Vienna. He founded and manages the media education association “Digital Compass”, which campaigns in Austria for the improved communication skills. He specializes in media ethics in his studies of journalism and communication sciences at the University of Vienna and wrote his thesis at University of Istanbul on cultural factors influencing quality journalism. In addition, his two years in the marketing department of “der Standard” allowed him to get an overview of the economics of media production. He now works as a freelance journalist in Vienna.

THOMAS PRAGER

Journalist, Media Literacy Expert & Network coordinator for Lie Detectors, Vienna

Thomas works as a freelance journalist for various media (such as profil, RegionalMedien Austria and Michael Müller Verlag) in Vienna. During his master’s thesis in journalism and communication science, he worked on possible solutions to the increasing amount of disinformation on the Internet. In the course of this, Thomas founded the media education association “Digital Compass”. He develops and maintains communication skills workshops for students, teachers and adults. Together with Tim, he organizes the Lie Detectors network between journalists and schools in Vienna.

WILFRIED RÜTTEN

media expert & consultant

Wilfried was the director of the European Journalism Centre from 2005-2016. He headed the school of digital television at the University of Applied Sciences in Salzburg, Austria until 2005 and has worked in German public and private broadcasting as a reporter and producer (ARD, RTL-Group). Wilfried has conducted important work on international news verification projects and brings a wealth of experience of European journalism and academia. He is a consultant for Lie Detectors.

LIE DETECTORS is financed by the Wyss Foundation and accredited by the  King Baudouin Foundation US. Our partner organisations include the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (Germany), Digitaler Kompass (Austria) and EAVI Media Literacy for Citizenship (Belgium).

 

LIE DETECTORS will run new classroom sessions in Germany, Belgium and Austria from January 2019.
Please watch this page for more information or contact us directly.