Bold enterprise uses Star Trek, zombies and dodgy saucers to take kids Behind The (Fake) News
Transporting high school students through a world of fake news has energised the creation of a replica Star Trek set in Adelaide.
Aliens and humans onboard the USS Enterprise are being used by the ABC"s Behind The News (BTN) program to teach a lesson about bias in news, or rather, the media taking sides between two sides of an argument.
"It"s teaching them how to evaluate news and equipping them with tools so that when students see news stories popping up on their social media feeds, they can work out the real news from the fake news," children"s news national editor Ben D"Arcy said.
Mr D"Arcy said it was one episode among five being filmed for the ABC"s media literacy program, with another involving zombies — an episode that investigates the theme of news sources.
"For that one, people were dressed up as zombies and looked at whether or not you could believe the apocalypse was coming, although it was set in a kitchen at some point as well, so there were actual saucers next to news sources," he said.
Photo: Amelia Mosely and Charlotte Batty in costume on the set. (ABC Radio Adelaide: Malcolm Sutton)
Negotiating a world of fake news
As social media platforms such as Facebook continue to challenge the fourth estate and present streams of news based on algorithms and individual preferences, it is hoped students will learn to separate mistruths from reality and broaden their perspectives.
Other episodes include looking at news values through a mash-up of 1980s themes, the history of fake news through an episode poking fun at 1950s public service announcements, and media ethics through superheroes, namely Superman.
"In some ways, journalists are like superheroes in that they uncover the truth and expose the truth to people," Mr D"Arcy said.
"But actually, superheroes and journalists make mistakes and we follow those superheroes through some of the things journalists have to do, like making sure they are accurate over things like speed."
Photo: An Orion-cross-Vulcan-like character from BTN"s Star Trek episode. (ABC Radio Adelaide: Malcolm Sutton)
The scripts for each 15-minute episode were written by producer Sarah Larsen and BTN presenter Amelia Moseley and mostly target students from Year 9 and above.
For a 50-year program that has traditionally been made for primary school students, Ms Larsen said it marked a departure from the norm.
"It was the idea from head of digital education Annabel Astbury, who wanted to do a media literacy week and asked us to do some videos targeting high school students and get them interested," she said.
"It was the first time we"ve written for high school, so that was a bit different, and we got excited about making blood and eating [fake] brains for the zombie episode."
Ms Larsen said writing for older students presented a challenge "because there"s that awareness about, am I being funny, or will they just think I"m being lame".
But she also said it was easier because there was a lot of assumed knowledge.
"It"s a little bit more tongue in cheek than it is for primary school students."
It was also a lot of fun, Mr D"Arcy said.
"We"ve come up with lots of interesting treatments and things, which means a lot of the BTN reporters have been able to dress up in costume and put their acting abilities to the test," he said.
"They"ve done really well and everyone"s really happy with how it"s gone."
Scheduling is not yet set but the episodes are being filmed for ABC Me digital television. They"re expected to be featured as part of ABC Education"s first Media Literacy Week from September 10 to 16.
Photo: BTN"s Nicholas Maher and producer Sarah Larsen adjust the all-important mirror ball. (ABC Radio Adelaide: Malcolm Sutton)
Topics: media-studies, journalism, information-and-communication, internet-culture, social-media, television, arts-and-entertainment, broadcasting, television-broadcasting, human-interest, adelaide-5000, sa, australiaSource: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-07-13/star-trekking-through-fake-news-with-btn/9985494