Poynter partners with MediaSmarts to launch the Teen Fact-Checking Network in Canada

March 11, 2024 - MediaWise, the Poynter Institute’s media literacy initiative, is partnering with MediaSmarts, a Canadian non-profit organization, to launch North America’s second Teen Fact-Checking Network. The project is supported by the Google News Initiative.  

Cell phone screen captures of teens talking

The Canadian Teen Fact-Checking Network is a bilingual project with two newsrooms, one in English and one in French. Both newsrooms will fact-check claims and teach media literacy skills that resonate with their communities. This program joins the global Teen Fact-Checking Network initiative with newsrooms in the United States, Brazil, Germany, India and Spain. 

“As the need for media literacy in North America becomes ever more crucial, partnering with MediaSmarts to launch the Canadian Teen Fact-Checking Network is a natural step forward for our collaborative efforts,” says Brittani Kollar, deputy director of MediaWise. “What we consume online does not adhere to geographical boundaries, and as neighbors, I am very excited to join efforts with MediaSmarts in media literacy education.” 

The TFCN will empower teens to combat misinformation where they spend most of their time: social media. Through short videos that will resonate with their peer group, teen fact-checkers will use — and teach — the tools real journalists employ to separate fact from fiction, like reverse image searches. And they’ll equip Canadians their age with skills to talk to friends and family about misinformation. 

MediaSmarts is Canada’s bilingual center for digital media literacy and a registered charity. The organization has been conducting research and developing resources since it launched in 1996. It creates educational resources for K-12 students, educators, parents and people of all ages, and conducts its own research and assessments. Its current resources include guides, videos, games, tutorials, blogs and tips for the general public as well as lesson plans and frameworks for educators. Their resources are informed by their original research with youth, and the organization conducts outreach and develops partnerships to further awareness around the importance of media literacy in Canada. 

“We are thrilled to be a part of this groundbreaking program in partnership with MediaWise. While Gen Z are prolific social media users, teenagers are not immune to the challenges of our rapidly evolving digital ecosystem, and our research shows they encounter misinformation often,” says Kathryn Hill, executive director at MediaSmarts. “We believe the best way to teach Canadian teens fact-checking skills is by reaching them on the social media platforms they use and having them learn from their peers. This program allows us to do just that.”   

Hill recently spoke to CTV News, a Canadian broadcaster, about the Teen Fact-Checking Network and the importance of helping teens debunk misinformation and disinformation.  

The Canadian Teen Fact-Checking Network expansion is made possible with support from the Google News Initiative.  

“Helping Generation Z develop the instincts and skills to double-check, corroborate and verify information is essential to empowering them, and society, to combat the proliferation of misinformation effectively. The Google News Initiative is thrilled to support the expansion of the Teen Fact-Checking Network into Canada through this innovative initiative and partnership with MediaSmarts.” 

The teens’ videos will be published to MediaSmarts’ TikTokInstagram and YouTube channels. You can find out more about the Canadian Teen Fact-Checking Network here. Applications for the French speaking newsroom are being accepted on a rolling basis. 

MediaSmarts Contact:  
Tricia Grant  
Director of Marketing and Communications  
613-224-7721 ext. 231  

Poynter Media Contact 
Jennifer Orsi 
Senior Director, Publishing and Local News Initiatives 

About The Poynter Institute 
The Poynter Institute is a global nonprofit working to address society’s most pressing issues by teaching journalists and journalism, covering the media and the complexities facing the industry, convening and community building, improving the capacity and sustainability of news organizations and fostering trust and reliability of information. The Institute is a gold standard in journalistic excellence and dedicated to the preservation and advancement of press freedom in democracies worldwide. Through Poynter, journalists, newsrooms, businesses, big tech corporations and citizens convene to find solutions that promote trust and transparency in news and stoke meaningful public discourse. The world’s top journalists and emerging media leaders rely on the Institute to learn new skills, adopt best practices, better serve audiences, scale operations and improve the quality of the universally shared information ecosystem. 

The Craig Newmark Center for Ethics and Leadership, the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), MediaWise and PolitiFact are all members of the Poynter organization. 

Support for Poynter and our entities upholds the integrity of the free press and the U.S. First Amendment and builds public confidence in journalism and media — an essential for healthy democracies. Learn more at poynter.org

About MediaWise 
MediaWise is a social-first digital media literacy initiative of the nonprofit Poynter Institute. The program teaches people of all ages and backgrounds how to responsibly engage with online content in the age of information overload. MediaWise was created in 2018 to empower citizens to find trusted sources and make sense of the vast amount of information at their fingertips. MediaWise brings simple, yet effective, digital media literacy tools to people where they are — whether they’re on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, X, TikTok, or in one of the 10 countries where MediaWise operates — and walk them through every step to determine what’s real and what’s not on the internet. Through MediaWise, everyone can do their part to reduce the spread of misinformation and elevate the facts. 

Follow MediaWise on social media to learn how to debunk viral claims and be more critical consumers of online information. Explore programs and be part of the solution at poynter.org/mediawise

About MediaSmarts 
MediaSmarts is Canada’s bilingual centre for digital media literacy. A registered charity, MediaSmarts has been conducting research, developing resources and advancing digital media literacy since 1996. Their vision is that everyone is empowered to engage with all forms of media confidently and critically.   

To achieve this goal, MediaSmarts conducts and disseminates original research that informs resource development and policy issues related to all media. They create free, bilingual educational resources, provide internationally-regarded digital media literacy expertise and conduct awareness-raising activities to further digital media literacy in Canada. 

Follow MediaSmarts on social media for tips on addressing the most pressing digital media literacy topics of our time, including mis/disinformation, digital well-being, online hate, online privacy, screen use, online safety, cyberbullying, advertising, representation in media and more. Find out more at www.mediasmarts.ca.  

About the Google News Initiative 
In collaboration with editors and journalists worldwide, the Google News Initiative (GNI) strives to foster a more sustainable, diverse, and innovative news landscape. Through a comprehensive suite of programs, digital tools, training, and resources, the GNI empowers journalistic endeavors, enabling journalists to effectively discover, verify, and narrate compelling stories while upholding the highest standards of quality journalism.