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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How Are You Helping Kids Learn About MediaLit & Fake News? Progress?

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Check out Google’s new fact check feature.

Teachers all over the country are sharing ideas about how to help their students identify news that is made-up, unsubstantiated, or just plain false. Now Google has added a feature that identifies false information that comes up on user searches. An April 7, 2017 article at the Pointer Journalism site describes Google’s new fact check in detail and explains how the company went about developing its new feature. You can also read the CNET article about Google.

I’ve been delighted by the articles, such as Five Ways Teachers Are Fighting Fake News, an NPR education article that describe how three teachers are incorporating media literacy activities into their curriculum.  Plenty of other similar reports have appeared in various the media. I hope that, somewhere, there is an organization that is archiving as many teacher ideas as possible.                          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.

Can We Stop Using the Word Fake to Describe Made Up News?

describing-real-newsFake is a generic term. We don’t use it much when we teach — in any subject — because it’s judgmental and doesn’t tell us much about whatever it’s supposed to be characterizing. Besides, anyone can say that something — anything — is fake or made up.

So let’s not use fake to describe the news.

I recently read The Fight Against Fake News Starts in the Classroom, an article that describes media literacy lessons developed by Project Look Smart (at Ithaca College) and the principles of evaluating, deconstructing, and applying unambiguous descriptions to the news. The literacy lessons aim to help students gain more understanding of the practice of media evaluation and inquiry rather than simply designating something as true or false. When I finished reading the article and look over the wonderful teaching units, I realized that every lesson can be completed without focusing much, or at all on the word fake.         Continue reading

Video Visually Demonstrates Sharing Fake News vs. Checking It First

A media company in Sweden, MetroSverige, shared this excellent video visualization that depicts the differences between checking on the validity of a piece of news and just sharing it without pausing to consider whether it or not it is fake news.

Real or Fake? How to Check Yourself

img_7661If you think a lot about fake news these days, and if you aim to help your students or family members develop the ability to effectively evaluate and decide what’s real and what’s not, National Public Radio (NPR) just published an excellent article, Fake or Real? How to Self-Check the News and Get the Facts. This piece highlights six steps that individuals can use to judge the stories they encounter, and the article includes a detailed description about how to go about following through with each step.

The entire NPR post, which is chock full of helpful information, will be a useful teaching tool for anyone who wants to gauge a news item’s authenticity, and the six basic steps are easy to master. Post the list near computers, on the refrigerator, and in rooms where family members use digital devices and on digital devices’ note pads.

News Evaluation Steps from National Public Radio (Read the article for lots more detail.) Continue reading

Hackathon Participants Figure a Way to Identify Fake News

Photo used with permission of Hack Princeton Team

Photo used with permission of Hack Princeton Team

A week or so ago four college students at a Princeton University hackathon  came up with a way to identify fake news on Facebook. You can read about the specific fake news solution at a Business Insider article, Students Solve Facebook’s Fake News Problem in 36 Hours.

A hackathon is an event attended by students who gather for a few days to focus on solving problems by using their programming skills. Collaboration is key. According to Zachary Liu, a manager for the Princeton event, about 600 students attended from over 80 universities.

Photo used with permission of Hack Princeton Team

Photo used with permission of Hack Princeton Team

A hackathon is 21st Century learning at its best. The aim of each event is to identify problems that need solving and encourage students to work collaboratively, using their programming (coding) skills, to figure out potential solutions.

At the Princeton event, and at many other hackathons around the country, there is no charge for room and board, and in some cases buses pick up participants at different schools. Travel costs can be reimbursed.      Continue reading