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Fact-checked: journalists and activists against lies and propaganda

Project Summary: 

“Fact-checked: journalists and activists against lies and propaganda” is a project of Transitions and the Serbian CRTA Istinomer. The aim of the project is to improve the level of trust in the Serbian information space through activities aimed at debunking disinformation and propaganda, strengthening accountability of public officials and increasing scrutiny of electoral processes. The project seeks to allow citizens to engage with issues of public interest and make better-informed decisions. The action targets journalists and election observers. Project activities include training workshops,online courses production and extensive editorial work. The editorial activity supports the CRTA publication Istinomer,which produces content to debunk falsehoods circulating in Serbia’s information space. Part of the content will be adapted for publication in English in the TOL magazine. The teams of election observers that CRTA has built to bring about greater accountability of the election process will receive training in key aspects of media literacy and fact checking.

Project activities: 

1.1.1 Training of journalists (two live online workshops) 

CRTA plans to recruit up to 15 journalists for two live online fact-checking workshops. Most participants will be selected through an open call, while the rest will come from CRTA’s editorial team. Istinomer will announce the call for applications on its website and promote it via social media, educational institutions, and relevant journalists’ associations.

1.2.1 Training of journalists (online learning) 

Following the workshops, participants will engage in online learning activities, including Transitions’ courses on disinformation and other courses by Czech media literacy experts. They will also access resources from First Draft, Bellingcat, and UNESCO on related topics.

2.1.1 Training of election monitors (online learning) and 2.1.2 Training of election monitors (2 live online workshops) 

Training for election monitors will align with Serbia’s spring 2024 elections. “Citizens on Watch,” a network of long-term election monitors established by CRTA, will focus on monitoring election administration, law implementation, campaign conduct, and local media. Previously trained in identifying media violations, the network will now receive advanced training in media and information literacy to combat propaganda and disinformation. Monitors will first study online resources from Transitions, First Draft, and Bellingcat, translated into Serbian. Two groups of up to 16 observers will then attend online workshops on fact-checking and media literacy, which will also help prepare for the upcoming election monitoring. This training extends CRTA’s fact-checking efforts beyond Belgrade, promoting information verification and media literacy in local communities.

3.1.1 Strengthening of CRTA info verification team, with in-house capacity–building provided to team In the previous phases of the project, CRTA selected the most qualified journalists who attended training to join the Istinomer editorial team

Over the past four years, additional team members have significantly boosted Istinomer’s fact-checking content production and audience reach. To maintain credibility and further enhance content reach, Istinomer will implement regular internal capacity-building activities. This includes training newsroom leaders in audience management, innovation, and strategy. Editors and program managers will develop skills to manage large investigations, update editorial standards and ethics policies, and expand newsroom partnerships. Both internal and external experts will be involved in these training activities.

3.2.1 Team produces weekly content for Istinomer Istinomer’s editorial team will continue to produce content using the skills, tools, and techniques provided through training activities in the previous project period.

Istinomer journalists will track and evaluate promises and public statements made by politicians, building a comprehensive database to assess accountability. Following the early parliamentary, Belgrade, and local elections in late 2023 and spring 2024, Istinomer will focus on scrutinizing election promises. Their fact-checkers will assess statements from the elections and monitor both traditional and social media for manipulative information. To address news avoidance, especially on social media, Istinomer will create platform-specific content like Instagram carousels, TikToks, X threads, and newsletters, complementing their website analyses. Additionally, the team will produce analyses and investigative reports to counter disinformation, focusing on issues like the war in Ukraine and the Kosovo crisis. Istinomer aims to produce at least 10 pieces of fact-checking content weekly, including a minimum of 6 fact-checks or analyses per funded journalist.

 3.2.2 Team produces monthly content for international audiences 

Due to ongoing issues such as Serbia’s uncertain relationship with Kosovo, its ties to the Kremlin amid the Ukraine war, and the erosion of democratic standards and the rule of law, Serbia’s prospects of joining the European Union remain doubtful. These concerns interest both domestic and international audiences. To address this, Istinomer’s editorial team will produce a bi-monthly feature on Serbian affairs for international readers. These articles, written in English, will be edited, published, and promoted by TOL.

4.1.1 Live online lectures and production of standalone learning courses on tackling digital propaganda and disinformation 

The curated lectures and courses will equip users with knowledge and expertise to tackle modern disinformation challenges, in collaboration with leading Czech experts and organizations. The courses will cover:

Modern Tools and Methods to Combat Propaganda and Disinformation

How to Reach Hard-to-Reach Audiences

Lessons Learned from Election-Related Disinformation Campaigns

Building Disinformation Resilient Communities – Best Practices Sharing

Project partner: