Our Mission

To turn school children aged 10-15 into powerful lie detectors in an online world increasingly populated by conspiracy theories and propaganda.

To enable children to understand the difference between news, news bias and fiction, through interactive school assembly and classroom sessions.

To empower children to make informed choices and resist peer pressure as they assemble their world view, basing it on information they understand and trust.

Why it matters

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. It also aims to make young people attuned to the ideals and hurdles of news production, whose results they consume on a daily basis. Child safety is nothing new: children worldwide have long been taught not to accept sweets from strangers. As they increase their consumption of media, they need news literacy to do so wisely.

How we do it

LIE DETECTORS deploys journalist volunteers to teach classroom sessions, recruiting them primarily from alumni circles of recognized journalism schools. Country focus will begin in Belgium and Germany.

Professional journalists teach the 45-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 – allows children to develop deeper a understanding of selective storytelling and perspective.

  • “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

Who we are

Juliane von Reppert-Bismarck

Founder/Director

Award-winning journalist Juliane von Reppert-Bismarck has written for a wide range of mainstream and investigative media, including The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Newsweek, Spiegel, The Independent and the Toronto Globe and Mail. She is a seasoned public speaker with a keen perspective on how media works and how to consume it. During her 20 years’ work as a journalist and editor, Juliane has reported from Europe and the US as well as from the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa and the Arctic, regularly exposing truths that challenge editorial preconceptions. She is the founder of LIE DETECTORS and directs its development and operations. She is an alumnus of New York’s Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

Magda Stoczkiewicz

Co-Founder and Board Member

Magda Stoczkiewicz was a director of Friends of the Earth Europe, a leading environmental campaigning organisation, from March 2008 till July 2017. She is a co-founder of CEE Bankwatch Network, thriving organisation in Central Eastern Europe for which she had worked for 12 years from mid 90ties onwards. She has 17 years of senior management experience in non-profit organisations coupled with advanced knowledge of EU institutions and EU policy-making framework with more than two decades working experience at international level. Twenty+ years working in non-profit gives her a thorough understanding of the civil society sector and matters related to strategy setting, campaigning, project development, fundraising, finance and governance. In her position as FoE Europe director she mastered her advocacy and communication skills including establishing and upholding professional relationships and negotiations at the highest level of European and international institutions. In October 2016, she was listed by Politico, main European news wire, as one of the 20+ women shaping Brussels.

Wilfried Rütten

Co-Founder

Wilfried Rütten 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.

With the support of Hansjörg Wyss and the Global Reporting Centre