Rachael Jolley, Index on Censorship | Fake News

Rachael Jolley is the editor of Index on Censorship. Censorship is when somebody takes away your freedom of speech. For example, the Chinese government censor anybody who says bad things about the government.

Dear Burnet News Club members! I’m so glad to hear you want to know more about journalism and how it works as well as freedom of thought. These can make an important impact on people’s lives, uncover hidden scandals, or make a story about corruption public, for instance. But on an everyday level, it may just mean more information is available.

Does freedom of speech means that everyone is entitled to say what they think, even if it’s not true?

From: SA | Chiltern Way Academy

Freedom of speech is about everyone having a say, whoever they are, and whatever their background. And in countries that believe in freedom of speech, this should be encouraged and defended. In countries that don’t, it should be too.

That means that sometimes you may hear things you disagree with or even feel strongly are wrong, and other people may strongly disagree with you. But it also means we are open about our beliefs and opinions and feel free enough as a society to be able to argue, and not feel that people who have opinions we don’t like should be locked up or shot. Some of your opinions may not be true, but you might still want to discuss them with your family and friends. Freedom of speech is also about listening to other people’s thoughts and positions and being willing to discuss them.  You may believe something is true until you hear or learn more about a subject.

For instance, say you believed that Sydney was the capital of Australia, and you told your friends this. It may be that later you found out that in fact, it wasn’t. But just because it wasn’t true doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be allowed to say it. We, at Index, think we should draw the legal line at speech that encourages violence, harassment or harm.

Will we ever be able to stop fake news?

From: BossJourno | Alperton Community School

Throughout history, people have told stories because it was convenient for them to get other people to believe such things.  Basically what some people call “fake news” is stuff that is made up deliberately to try and get some kind of reaction. Other people call this propaganda. Also, some people just call things “fake news” if they don’t agree with them or don’t like the coverage as President Trump has been doing. What about advertising? Do you think that is “fake news”? I think it is worth thinking about this phrase and what it might mean.

Sometimes false information was circulated because it was useful for one country to hate another, say in wartime when a government wanted people to enlist in the army.  So will we ever be able to stop people making things up and trying to get us to believe it? Probably not. But what we need to do is make all of us understand how to spot if something is made up and has the intention of trying to get us to believe something for a reason. It would be great if more was taught in schools about this. It is often called media literacy. But it also comes up in history.  And it means giving you the skills to be sceptical and dissect stories you might see on Facebook, Twitter or anywhere else, so you are more informed about whether it is likely to be true or not. We need to be better able to work out the signs that tell us something is not well informed or made up and equip ourselves to dismiss it.

In the 1930s in this country, the newspapers were often told not to run a story that the government or the royal family would rather not see published.  Would you like to live in that country today?

Rachael Jolley, editor of Index on Censorship

Why doesn’t the government moderate things before being released? They don’t have to be as strict as Turkey where they cut everything out completely but they can still keep their social media but monitor it instead?

From: Tazmanian Devil | Grace Academy Coventry

In the 1930s in this country, the newspapers were often told not to run a story that the government or the royal family would rather not see published.  Would you like to live in that country today?

Some countries exist like that; checking information that is allowed to be released to the public or making people so scared to publish something that the government disagrees with that they just don’t do it. In Uzbekistan and Belarus, the news is full of how wonderful the country’s leader is. If the government started moderating things before they were released we risk living in a society like that.  In democracies, we tend to think that the separation of the government and the media is important because journalists can act as watchdogs on the powerful. So if you give the government, or a private company, the power to stop things being published, do you feel you might end up less well informed? How would you know about the things that they have stopped being released? The government of China does not allow Twitter to be used. That is a form of moderation.

How will fake news affect democracy and our country?

From: PokemonAreGreat | William Patten Primary School

In democracies, a great variety of voices will be heard. They will be in disagreement at times. They may make opposing arguments. Some may be considered fake, or false or wrong, by one side or another. That is the sign of a strong democracy when we can live with people disagreeing without killing each other. And when we decide individually what to believe.

It is worrying that we can’t always trust each other or people in power and that we have to research stories to check that they are true. Why can’t we trust each other?

From: Monkey-spy092 | Hanwell Fields

It would be worrying if we didn’t think it was better to research ideas ourselves than just believing things others chose to tell us. Researching statements and decisions help us be informed, and make up our own minds. You decide who and what to trust.

Comments are closed.