UST journalism program to offer elective on fact-checking next academic year

File photo by Karl Angelo Vidal/THE FLAME

THE UST Journalism program will offer an elective on fact-checking and digital literacy to tackle disinformation across different disciplines starting the first term of academic year 2024-2025.

The new general education elective, ​​“Digital Literacy, Fact-Checking, and Verification,” will initially be available to first-year students of the journalism and legal management programs. Its expansion in the succeeding terms will depend on demand, according to journalism coordinator Asst. Prof. Felipe Salvosa II.

Students taking the course are expected to analyze the effects of misinformation and disinformation on various disciplines and the democratic system. Other topics will tackle the application of digital literacy principles and safety; validation of the accuracy and reliability of online information and creation of original content containing fact-checked information.

The elective will also “adopt theoretical and contextual approaches to navigating the prevailing information disorder and, at the same time, equip students with practical tools to conduct online verification and fact-checking.”

Salvosa said the elective had been in the works for more than a year and that faculty members have undergone training on verification tools, analysis of foreign influence operations, artificial intelligence (AI)-based tools and data visualization.

“This is also in response to the message of Pope Francis for the 58th World Day of Social Communication that we are marking on May 12, 2024, on the need to ‘reflect carefully on the theoretical development and the practical use of these new instruments of communication and knowledge,’” Salvosa said.

On Jan. 24, Pope Francis said the digital revolution could lead to “greater freedom,” noting that the proper use of AI could also assist society in countering the “longstanding problem of disinformation.”

“The use of artificial intelligence can make a positive contribution to the communications sector, provided it does not eliminate the role of journalism on the ground but serves to support it,” the pope said.

UST’s journalism program was founded in 1929, the oldest in the country. It is one of the two programs in the Faculty of Arts and Letters that has been certified by the ASEAN University Network Quality Assurance for its competence in delivering quality education and producing notable research outputs.

The program was declared a Center of Development in Journalism in 2013 and 2016 by the Commission on Higher Education. F

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