Winning the War on State-Sponsored Propaganda: Results from an Impact Study of a Ukrainian News Media and Information Literacy Program



From 2015-2016, IREX implemented a media literacy training program called Learn to Discern (L2D) that trained Ukrainian citizens to critically assess news media messages and identify misinformation. In 2017, IREX conducted a quasi-experimental impact evaluation in a stratified random sample of L2D participants and a control group (n=412) matched for gender, age, region and education levels. A news literacy assessment was administered under two scenarios: an objective news article and a disinformation-based news article that included a series of questions to assess media analysis skills, knowledge of the news media environment and Media Locus of Control. Results show statistically significant higher levels of news analysis skills and knowledge of the news media environment for L2D participants, controlling for geographic region, education level, age, and gender. The results also found that news media behaviors acquired during the training persisted over a year following the training. In both groups, those who had a better ability to correctly identify disinformation also had better knowledge of how news media works, and slightly greater sense of control (assessed as Media Locus of Control) over their media choices. Future news media literacy programs should balance identifying and evaluating objective news stories and disinformation to ensure individuals are truly media literate in today’s news media environment.

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