“Fact checkers academy: Volume 2”

“Fact checkers academy: Volume 2”

The Center for Democracy and Human Rights (CEDEM) is implementing the project “Disinformation – Fact CheckMate!” with the support of the NATO Public Diplomacy Division.

Within this project, a three-day activity “Fact checkers academy: Volume 2” was held, which was attended by students of political science, international relations, diplomacy, journalism, security studies, as well as young people from political parties. The activity was held on December 1 – 3, 2021 in the hotel “Voco” in Podgorica. The aim of the academy was to enable participants to recognize and successfully deconstruct false information, misinformation, propaganda and other digital threats and thus contribute to the fight against hybrid threats in Montenegro.

During the first day of the academy, Olivera Nikolić, director of the Media Institute of Montenegro, introduced the participants to the importance of media literacy through the lecture “Media Literacy – How to Systematically Raise Social Resistance to Disinformation“. Nikolić explained that the current society, both in Montenegro and in the world, lives in information chaos where trust in the media is undermined, but also that the media themselves are less and less producers of knowledge that helps for easier functioning in the status quo, i.e. that the media are less and less used as a space for dialogue, but instead more and more a space that encourages social divisions, thus serving as a propaganda drive for various centers of power. In order to make life easier and more functional in this information chaos, Nikolić stated the importance of media literacy, because a media literate person would be able to: separate the important from the irrelevant in different circumstances in everything they see in the media, to recognize elements of propaganda or covert advertising, to detect implicit and explicit hate speech and see all the manipulative strategies used by the media and politicians, and to recognize what is tendentiously added and what is tendentiously left out.


During the second session, Dr. Nenad Vujadinović, dean and professor at the Faculty of Arts at the University of Donja Gorica in Podgorica, spoke to the participants about the power of suggestion or how subliminal messages can create public opinion. Vujadinović emphasized that subconscious messages have different influences on our thoughts and our behavior – subliminal stimuli can facilitate the conscious processing of related information, but also change our current mood and stimulate our motivation. In addition, he emphasized that the basic projected goal of subliminal messages is to manipulate a person with the help of messages that are “buried” below the threshold of perception to do something that they themselves did not want or did not intend to do. In the end, Vujadinović mentioned the importance of studying media literacy, because media literacy enables a clearer view of the border between the real world and the one produced by the media.


On the second day of the academy, Milan Jovanović, an analyst at the Digital Forensic Center, spoke with participants about various forms of misinformation, such as astroturfing, deep fakes, content farms, internet bots and other advanced forms of digital threats we may encounter. Jovanović additionally confirmed the views and findings of Olivera Nikolić, emphasizing that we live in information chaos where trust in the media is undermined, but that this is especially evident in times of social crisis. Jovanović explained that in these times the audience reaches out to the media for identification, i.e. the need to belong and confirm their beliefs, prejudices, stereotypes, rather than information, but also that times of social crisis are an ideal space for “flourishing” of various forms of misinformation. During his lecture, he presented the work of the Digital Forensic Center and introduced the participants to the methodology of deconstruction of disinformation, but also introduced them to the tools that can successfully identify and deconstruct false information, misinformation, propaganda and other digital threats.


During the second session of the second day, Milica Kovačević, CDT’s program director, spoke with the participants about the propaganda channels of communication in the Western Balkans. Through interactive communication with the participants, Kovačevic discussed the influences of media channels that do not create content exclusively for the audience in their own countries, but also achieve readability in Montenegro through online space, promoting conspiracy theories and propaganda, which undoubtedly affects public opinion and attitudes. In addition, she spoke about the instruments that the great powers use to achieve political, but often together with political, economic interests in Montenegro through “diplomacy” or “soft power”.


On the third day of the academy, Darvin Murić, editor-in-chief of the Raskrinkavanje.me portal, spoke with the participants about exposing propaganda in social and political moments of crisis. Murić explained the importance of organizations that deal with fact-checking in Montenegro, because the types of media that publish unprofessional content, hate speech, propaganda and disinformation have a great influence on the formation of public opinion in political and social moments of crisis. Working with participants through practical exercises, Murić analyzed and deconstructed false narratives coming from Montenegrin and the regional media, but also recommended to the participants to actively participate in exposing negative, unprofessional and misinformative content, by reporting such content through “report” options on social networks or by direct report on website https://www.raskrinkavanje.me/.

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