Notes from a News Champion
In October 2019, 21 young people aged 11 to 16 years gathered at our Museum for a media literacy ‘News Champions Forum’. They discussed the news, its role in our democracy and how young people are represented in Australian news media. Here, News Champion Andrew Callow shares his thoughts on the event…
On Sunday the 20th October, 21 students, including myself (Andrew Callow), from all across Australia flew to Canberra to take part in the News Champions Forum as part of Media Literacy Week. The News Champions Forum was established to educate all of Australia’s youth starting with us, about the importance of news media in our current modern society. The News Champions Forum also built on the idea of encouraging youth to ‘have a say’ in society and recognise that everyone, even school students, have a voice. The forum was also created to gather essential information about youth involvement with news for a research team at Western Sydney University.
On Sunday, my Dad and I arrived at Canberra, unpacked our luggage, and went to meet all the other participants at the Museum of Australian Democracy (or MoAD) at Old Parliament House. Monday 21st October was the main day of the News Champions Forum. Throughout the day we took part in activities that questioned our knowledge of news media and made us think about how the news is delivered to the public. For the long period of time we spent at MoAD on Monday, we were visited by 5 young guest speakers: ABC journalists Matt Doran and Alexandra Alvaro, Nip Wijewickrema who employs people with disabilities for her company, GG’s Flowers and was a finalist for Young Australian of the Year, Amos Washington who was the 2018 Australian Youth Representative to the UN and Sanjay Kumar who works in Google’s public policy sector and answered some of our questions.
A reoccurring topic throughout the day was the spread of misinformation, or ‘fake news’. I learnt about fake news, why it is created and spread in the first place, and how to identify misinformation and bias in news articles and stories. I was also briefly interviewed about the importance of news.
When asked about what I’d like to see changed in the future of news media, I responded by saying something along the lines of:
“I’d like to see upcoming journalists and news networks educated about misinformation and biases and how to work around them to produce truthful and trustworthy information”.
The News Champions Forum was an experience that I learnt from hugely. It is perhaps the only opportunity I’ll ever have to be a part of a group of young people that have a keen interest in news and openly wanted to discuss and improve media in society. It was an event that gave me the opportunity to learn so much about a subject that I initially knew little about and makes me wonder why news isn’t a significant topic in our school curriculum, considering its value and key role in this current and emerging society.
The News Champions Forum was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I want to give huge thanks to the organisers of the event. They’ve opened up new pathways for me to explore and furthermore have sparked my interest in news media.
Throughout the forum there was one thought that stuck with me: What would the media be like where all news sources were trustworthy and unbiased, created to inform and not to express individual viewpoints? That is an idea I want the media to work towards in the future and with that, I conclude my experience at the News Champions Forum.
The News Champions Forum was a collaboration between Western Sydney University, Queensland University of Technology, MoAD and ABC Education, with the support of Google Australia.