WEBSITE UPDATE (May 2021):  We are currently working on a new website, which will launch shortly. In the meantime, please refer to our accounts on Twitter and LinkedIn for updates including on the roll-out of our corona-adapted classroom visits , our teacher training, journalist workshops and public events, as well as our recruitment drives and recent launch in Switzerland.

CORONA UPDATE: Lie Detectors has adapted its format to distance-learning to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. Our new format prompts children and adults to fact-check corona-related social media posts. It’s accessible for all children regardless of digital connectedness. At the end of every module, we create virtual classroom visits during which pupils ask our journalists questions on news literacy and fact checking at this critical time. Feedback has been extremely positive and we are gathering findings to inform our work as schools adapt. To find out more or participate in our corona-adapted programme, see here

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Our Mission

Lie Detectors is an independent, award-winning and journalist-led news literacy organisation that works to empower schoolchildren and their teachers in Europe to act as powerful lie detectors and critical thinkers in a world increasingly populated by propaganda and distorted facts online. We do this by equipping school communities to fact-check online content, 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 June 2021 we are working across Europe with more than 250 professional journalists and media organisations.
  • We attune teachers in primary, middle and secondary schools 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 provide work sheets and 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.
  • As a Friend of eTwinning and in numerous fora, we provide teacher-training seminars and workshops internationally.
  • We provide a link between schools and the very best existing news-literacy and news-verification initiatives.
  • Working with alliances of like-minded organisations, we inform 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.
  • We remain independent of any commercial or political funding.

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.

PETER SCHAFFLER

Operations Director

As operations director Peter leads on the support functions of Lie Detectors most notably finance, human resources, information and communications technology and corporate legal affairs. He is an international social business professional with 12+ years of work experience in Europe, Africa and Asia predominantly in the area of sexual and reproductive health and rights.

JANE WHYATT

Communications Director

Jane worked as a journalist, radio newsreader and independent producer for BBC and commercial networks in the United Kingdom. She founded and managed two media startups and worked as a lecturer and academic leader in London’s top journalism schools, including City University and the University of Westminster. Moving to Germany in 2015, Jane joined the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom as Project Co-ordinator and later Acting Managing Director. Before she joined Lie Detectors as Communications Director, Jane participated in the organisation’s classrooms work, visiting schools in person and by video-conference. She graduated in Modern European Studies from the University of Bristol. Her native tongue is English and she is fluent in German and French, with a working knowledge of Italian.

 

ADELINE BRION

Communications and Advocacy Coordinator

Experienced and passionate about nonprofit communication, Adeline joined Lie Detectors in 2018.  As communications coordinator, Adeline supports Lie Detectors with her editorial and communication skills. She also keeps an eye on developments in the field of media literacy in Europe and at the global level in order to support the development and implementation of Lie Detectors’ advocacy strategy. 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.

RUXANDRA MANEA

Operations Officer

Ruxandra assists the Executive Director and Operations Director with a focus on accounts, HR and organisation-wide administration.  She came to Lie Detectors with more than eight years’ experience in similar roles, using analytical and communication skills and a flexible approach to solving day-to-day problems. She holds a Master’s degree in Finance and Banking from the Academy of Economic Studies in Bucharest.

JOSEPHINE ZYGOMALAS

General Assistant

Josephine supports Lie Detectors’ administrative activities from the Brussels office. She grew up in Berlin and Brussels and speaks English, German, Italian and French. Josephine recently graduated from the University of Sussex with a BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics. She is particularly interested in the social and political consequences of disinformation.

NELE BAUWENS

Country Programme Coordinator, Belgium

Nele organises 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.

ANNE LEBESSI

Programme assistant, Belgium

Anne Lebessi assists Lie Detectors in the organisation of school visits and training workshops for journalists in Belgium. She also participates in the development of different networks in the country. Having grown up in Brussels, she has a Masters degree in journalism. Before joining Lie Detectors, Anne worked as a journalist for La Libre Belgique and visited many classes through the Lie Detectors project. For her, it is important that each generation thinks about passing on something positive to the next.

ANNKATRIN KAISER

Interim Country Programme Director, Germany

Annkatrin heads Lie Detectors activities in Germany and manages its expansion within the country. She is an experienced non-profit professional who previously led the Europe Division of Stiftung Mercator. Annkatrin has a special interest in the societal impact and negative consequences of disinformation. She holds a master’s degree in political sciences and also studied philosophy and economics in Germany and Turkey.

CHARLOTTE CARNEHL (on leave)

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 Coordinator, 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.

ANJA VOIGT

Programme assistant, Germany

Anja supports Lie Detectors administrative activities from the office in Berlin. She is currently studying Cultural Studies and English at the University of Potsdam. The critical examination of image and especially text media is of particular importance for her studies. She discovered her interest in educational work mainly through her experience at a Berlin children and youth literature house.

MARICA RAUSCHNICK

Student Assistant, Germany

Marica supports Lie Detectors with administrative tasks from the Berlin office. Previously, she gained experience in assisting with projects and administrative work. She is currently studying economics and political science at the Georg-August-University of Göttingen. Marica’s enthusiasm for journalistic work and the critical examination of it was sparked by a series of workshops she took at her university’s International Writing Center.

ANN-KATHRIN HORN

Journalist & Network Coordinator for Lie Detectors, 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.

JULIA KUTTNER

Journalist and Network Coordinator for Lie Detectors, Hamburg

Julia Kuttner is a freelance journalist. Amongst other things she works for ARD-aktuell in Hamburg and writes for tagesschau.de. She spent several years working on the social media desk of tagesschau. Since Autumn 2018 she visits classrooms with Lie Detectors. Julia established the network of schools and journalists for Lie Detectors in Hamburg. Furthermore, she organises classroom visits in Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein and trains journalists for their own Lie Detectors classroom visits.

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.

SVEN KNOBLOCH

Journalist and Network Coordinator for Lie Detectors in Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia

Based in Leipzig, Sven is a freelance TV reporter for German public broadcaster MDR and a contributor for ARD Aktuell and major German news programmes including Tagesschau and Tagesthemen. Sven is one of Lie Detectors’ first participating journalists and has been visiting schools with Lie Detectors since 2018. He is in charge of building up networks of journalists and participating schools in Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia. 

TIM DOMBROWSKI

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

Tim founded and manages the media education association “Digitaler Kompass”, which campaigns for news literacy improvements in Austria. He coordinates Lie Detectors’ activities in Austria together with Thomas Prager. He specialised in media ethics in his studies of journalism and communication sciences at the University of Vienna and wrote his thesis at the University of Istanbul on cultural factors influencing quality journalism. In addition, his two years in the marketing department of “der Standard” gave him an overview of the economics of media production. He has worked as a freelance journalist in Vienna.

THOMAS PRAGER

Network coordinator for Lie Detectors, Vienna

Thomas coordinates Lie Detectors’ activities in Austria. He worked as a freelance journalist for various media in Vienna and as a research fellow at the department of communication at University of Vienna. During his master’s thesis in journalism and communication science, he analysed possible solutions to the increasing amount of disinformation on the Internet. In the course of this, Thomas founded the Austrian media education association “Digitaler Kompass”, which he manages today. He develops and maintains news literacy workshops for students, teachers and adults.

SINEM SAHIN

Country Programme Assistant, Austria

Sinem supports Lie Detectors’ administrative activities from the office in Brussels. She has gained previous experience in event planning and administrative work. As a current master’s student in the North American Studies program at the University of Bonn, she focuses on the fields of political science and economics. The intersection of politics and mass media communication has been a particular point of interest for her.

MARIANNE LÄDERACH

Switzerland country programme

Marianne is in charge of Lie Detectors’ activities in German-speaking Switzerland. She is the head of the Media Institute of the SCHWEIZER MEDIEN Publishers Association, which also works to foster media literacy. Marianne brings with her many years of experience in large Swiss publishing houses and has a Master’s degree in cultural management. She is particularly interested in possible changes within society that can be brought about by promoting media literacy.

JENNIFER FURER

Switzerland country programme

Jennifer assists the Swiss country programme, implementing Lie Detectors’ activities in German-speaking Switzerland and coordinating classroom visits and training workshops for journalists. A journalist by training, she has in-depth knowledge of news journalism and the media sector. Jennifer graduated from the University of Zurich with a degree in Journalism, Communication Studies and Modern History.

JANINE SURBER

Switzerland Country Programme

Janine supports Lie Detectors from the office in Zurich. In case of Jennifer’s absence, she coordinates school visits, organises journalist workshops and assumes administrative tasks. Additionally, Janine works at the Swiss media association and studies history and English at the University of Zurich, where she is also in teacher training for said subjects. She is fluent in German and English.

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 September 2020.
Please watch this page for more information or contact us directly.