Communications Commission announces Winners of the “Truth or Fiction?” Competition
The Communications Commission has held the awards ceremony for another edition of the media literacy competition “Truth or Fiction?” The contest, which aims to develop critical thinking, analysis and fact-checking skills among young people, has been held for the fourth time. For the first time, undergraduate students took part in the competition. The Commission received a total of 120 submissions from students, with the winning entries being selected by a competent jury panel. As part of the competition, participants were required to identify fake news in Georgian media space (including the internet, television and print media) that had not yet been confirmed as inaccurate.
The winners and other participants who did not finish in the top 3 but submitted high-quality entries and displayed a high level of competence and effective skills will be supported by the Communications Commission in career development. The Commission will hold certified training courses for around 15 students who submitted interesting works. The training programme has been devised by the media literacy department of the Communications Commission, and is composed of learning materials from the BBC Academy. After completing the course, participants will be issued with certificates and receive the opportunity to share their knowledge and experience with other pupils and students at schools and universities.
Due to the pandemic, only the winning participants were invited to attend the awards ceremony. The Commission will contact the 15 students who will be offered training and career development opportunities in the near future.
The first prize in the competition (an iPhone 12 Pro) was won by Avtandil Shavadze, whose work concerned a story published on the website news-front.ge, claiming that the President of Russia congratulated the Georgian WWII veterans on the occasion of Victory Day, and issued them with payments of GEL 200 each. Avtandil first attempted to verify the report with the media source itself, to no avail. He then referred to the official website of the Kremlin and contacted the State Service of Veterans Affairs, establishing that the story was fake.
The second prize (an iPad Pro 2020) was won by Ketevan Giorgadze, who uncovered fake information on the website geworld.ge. The article claimed that Georgia’s trade with Russia was worth billions of GEL, while trade with the United States was barely worth 40 million. Ketevan verified the data on the official website of GeoStat, establishing that trade with Russia was only worth USD 266,000. She also discovered that the fake information in the article was linked to the release of the Russian coronavirus vaccine.
The third prize (modern wireless Beats Studio 3 headphones) was won by Mariam Rukhadze, whose work concerned an article on vein treatment published on the website gaqx.info. The article contained numerous false claims, including the age and nationality of the woman featured in the story, who was not a 124-year-old Guinness record holder from Georgia, but actually from Russia. Mariam used the Google image search system, the website scamadviser.com and the official website of the Georgian Records Federation to verify the authenticity of gaqx.info and its content, establishing that the information found in the article was fake.
The Communications Commission has successfully organised the “Truth or Fiction?” competition for school pupils on three occasions, and now for the first time for undergraduate students. At the same time, the Commission held online learning sessions on the subject of fact-checking and detection of fake news for over 200 students in 6 universities across Tbilisi and other regions. The interactive sessions employed BBC Academy materials to teach students how to analyse fake news in the media and verify facts. These meetings also helped the students prepare their works for the competition.