The world has never been this way. Everyone has to battle the invisible army of coronavirus while also trying to guard against the darkness of “fake news.” It is difficult and challenging. It is at times like this we should remember the wise words from Martin Luther King who said, “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” So let there be hope.
When I was selected for SUSU 2021 I was thrilled to be part of it. I knew it was going to be a learning experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life. The very first day we were told it’s going to be both interesting and challenging. From the very first lecture by Dr. Kristy Roschke, I realized this year’s SUSI program is capable of doing what it has never done before. She talked about misinformation and disinformation. We have got participants from all over the world. She provided examples of some of her techniques of teaching the subject. Little did she realize this would be put to practice all over the world almost instantly. Thanks to Zoom classes, the participants are joining the class from their respective country. Some of us join the class in between our own classes. Some of us join the zoom class just after teaching.
In my class with my students the very next day we talked about misinformation and disinformation. It was an interesting and a healthy discussion. I will also be promoting the free course “Mediactive: How to Participate in Your Digital World,” not just among my students but also among other journalists.
One of the participants mentioned that they teach media literacy, however the the practical element is missing. With the teaching techniques explained by Dr. Roschke, the participant said she will be using some of Dr. Roschke’s techniques. When the SUSI program officially began everyone was focusing on the challenges (indeed running a program like this across 18 countries in a challenge), but Zoom classes have helped us to pass on the knowledge to our classes as fast as literally the next minute.
Lots of the participants have shared their desire and enthusiasm to fight against misinformation and disinformation. Some are in the process of developing new courses, some are getting ready to organize lectures and workshops on this topic. Eighteen participants from eighteen countries are trying to have some positive impact. Dr. Kristy felt this. “When I talk to you I feel positive,” she said in her concluding remarks. This almost instant opportunity to transfer the knowledge would not have been possible if we were all in Arizona for the program.
Everyone is an influencer
If you can remember only one line from Dr. Roschke’s two sessions, this line is enough: “Everyone is an influencer to someone.” It does not matter how “small” or “big” you are, you can play a role. If it is true that misinformation can lead to a war, it is also true to say that working against misinformation is trying to keep peace.
The amount of effort that needs to be done in order to battle against misinformation and disinformation is immense. It is possible that everyone will not or may not be able to do as much as we would like them to do. Let’s follow the advice of Martin Luther King: “If you can’t fly, run; if you can’t run, walk; if you can’t walk, crawl; but by all means keep moving.” As SUSI scholars we should all keep moving. If we can keep moving all around the world, we will be moving toward a better future and a better world.