Poor News Literacy Skills Combined With Fake News Can Hurt Real People

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via Pixabay

For years to come there will be no better case study to illustrate the damage that fake news, internet trolls, and social media can create than ‘Pizzagate’. The shameful, made-up information and the events that followed will comprise an authoritative discussion piece for parents, and it should enter every middle and high school media/news literacy curriculum.

In the April 20, 2017 Washington Post, Comet Pizza owner James Alefantis writes about how fake news concerning his restaurant went viral. His article What Happened When ‘PizzaGate’ Came to My Restaurant describes what happened when his business, neighbors, and customers suffered because of harassment, frightening phone calls, menacing comments to workers and their families, intimidation toward nearby businesses, and even death threats.  Yet Alefantis also describes how his strong community — neighbors and other businesses — rallied in support.
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News Literacy Skill Requires Knowledge About Evaluation and Credibility

Check out the News Literacy Project video below.

I’ve spent some time on this blog discussing the importance of credibility and evaluation — what I call 21st Century vocabulary words. Understanding how to evaluate and judge the credibility of content is digital life survival skill. Thus, when I discover a new resource that supports student learning I am always excited.

The News Literacy Project website features an excellent video with individuals — of all ages — sharing their thoughts about how news literacy skills can help people know what information to trust. It will be a useful tool for teachers who are developing student activities that focus on media credibility and evaluation. It can be well-paired with student activities that feature the online or app exhibits of the Newseum front pages

Watch the video.          Continue reading

The Newseum’s Front Pages — A Rich Media Literacy Resource

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The Front Pages exhibit in front of the Newseum. Can you see the Capitol dome in the distance?

If you are seeking a new and creative medialit resource — for home or school learning — take some time to discover and explore the Today’s Front Pages exhibit on display at the Newseum in Washington, DC. Visitors to the city can set aside a block of time to visit the Newseum itself, but those who don’t have time for a longer visit can still check out the front pages on the sidewalk in front of the Newseum (for free).

Not traveling to the Nation’s Capital? No problem. The Newseum makes it easy to visit Today’s Front Pages online — each day all 800 Front Pages are posted on the website. And there’s even a Today’s Front Pages app.

No matter where you see them, the Front Page exhibits are rich with learning possibilities.

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Classifying News Sources With a Venn-Diagram Mapping Strategy

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See larger image below.

How to scrutinize, classify, organize, and evaluate today’s media — as much as possible, online and off? That’s the question.

As we search for ideas that can help young people explore news sources, evaluate their preferences, examine how the media outlets identify and share facts, we mustn’t forget incorporating the the opportunity to talk with one another about the perspective that each source brings to its news-sharing. Recently I found Vanessa Otero’s interesting diagram that demonstrates how we can focus on media sources as well as consider their viewpoints and biases.

Evaluating 21st Century news is more complex than it’s ever was in the 20th Century. Reading the news is de-emphasized and watching the news is more prevalent, so we don’t interact much with information sources. The Internet and cable television channels allow opinions or made-up stories to masquerade as news sources — even when those opinions have no credible or factual source. Social media amplifies everything. Truth and expertise are incidental.                                                                             Continue reading

Teach Students to Use Words Other Than Fake!

screen-shot-2017-02-19-at-10-06-52-amFake is a generic term. It means one thing to one person and another thing to someone else. Anyone can say that something is fake or made up.

More descriptive words make it more difficult to label information that is untrue, and easier to challenge. We — kids, adults, parents, and teachers — need all the help we can get in this 21st Century connected world when it comes to evaluating credibility

My ideas?

  • Confirmed news
  • Authoritative news
  • Substantiated news
  • Verified or validated news
  • Corroborated news
  • Proven news
  • Authenticated news
  • Reliable news
  • Credible news
  • Unambiguous news

Teaching our children and all citizens to check for credibility, evaluate, and celebrate substantiated news has become more urgent In today’s hyper-connected world. Read my more detailed post on this topic.

The News User Manual — A Great New MediaLit Teaching Tool

Visit the The News User Manual website.

Visit the The News User Manual website.

If you have not discovered The News User Manual as a media and news literacy  resource for 21st Century digital kids and  yes, even for their parents, do check out the website.

Started by two seasoned broadcast  journalists, Jim Kane and Rich Nagle, The News User Manual features ongoing  podcast conversations (sometimes we call them casts) that encourage individuals to ask questions, think about, evaluate, gain understanding of, and develop personal news curating skills. The News User Manual’s mission encourages listeners to ask lots of questions about the news. In one cast they comment:

The thing to remember is to neither believe nor disbelieve what you’re reading, hearing or watching online. Rather, ask yourself how, when, why and where it was reaching you.

How, when, why, and where — media literacy at it’s best!

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Media Literacy Educators Are Not Responsible for Society’s Digital Problems

screen-shot-2017-01-11-at-10-39-42-pmThe Media Literacy community is dedicated and passionate about its work — but not according to danah boyd (yes she spells her name this way).

I’ve just read her article, Did Media Literacy Backfire? and honestly, I am puzzled. Boyd aptly describes today’s problems with unsubstantiated information and dramatic cultural divides, but she goes on to blame media literacy.

Medialit has no causal relationship with the cultural issues that divide us. In fact, if there is any connection between today’s digital information and cultural communication problems it’s that we don’t have nearly enough school literacy programs to help all students learn how to deconstruct and consume media.

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