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An alarming number of children can’t tell the difference between fake and real news.
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Today we were thrilled to have Michelle Ciulla Lipkin on the show, even if we weren’t thrilled about the reason: the proliferation of fake news, and the alarming number of people who can’t seem to tell the difference between actual journalism and something false, misleading, or based completely on opinion. Michelle is the Executive Director of NAMLE, the National Association of Media Literacy Education. According to the website, NAMLE’s vision is “to help individuals of all ages develop the habits of inquiry and skills of expression that they need to be critical thinkers, effective communicators and active citizens in today’s world.” Honestly that seems like the opposite of what we saw happen to the general public in the recent election, so they’ve got a lot of work to do.
Part of the problem, according to Michelle, is that the way we consume our news changed too fast for us to adapt. Facebook insists that it’s not a media organization, but it’s undeniable at this point that many people are getting the majority of their news from Facebook. So what responsibities do Facebook, Google, and other sites have in deciding what to show us, and how much can they be trusted, given the amount of advertising revenue they garner from fake news sites? If it isn’t their responsibility (or in their own best interest) to show us news only from reliable sources, then we have to take it upon ourselves to be better digital citizens. “If you don’t have the time to verify, then don’t share it,” says Michelle. The buck stops with us.
When we look at something online, the first thing we should ask ourselves is, “Is this true?” If we can’t verify it in other reliable places, we need to be suspicious. And we need to teach our children to be suspicious as well. A Stanford University study showed that the vast majority of students—middle school through college—weren’t able to tell the difference between real and fake news, or even real articles and sponsored posts. According to Michelle, “We need to train our teachers and librarians on the new rules.”
Sadly, for some people, facts in news don’t even seem to matter. Some people have convinced themselves that mainstream media is all biased and fake, and Michelle thinks this is a huge problem. “This is a crisis in our democracy if news can’t be trusted.” Rebecca added that not teaching civics in school anymore is making the problem much worse. When you don’t know how government works, when you don’t understand the basic principles of democracy and of our constitution, it’s much easier to believe fake stories about government.
So what to do? How do we teach our kids to be smart about the news? Michelle has some great resources for parents and schools:
- News Literacy Project Classroom Program
- NAMLE Resources
- Common Sense Education
- NewsWise from CyberWise
Talk to your kids. Talk to their schools. Read articles with them and give them clues about how to tell real from fake. And most of all, set a good example yourself!
Students Have ‘Dismaying’ Inability To Tell Fake News From Real, Study Finds, by Camila Domonoske – NPR
We Tracked Down A Fake-News Creator In The Suburbs. Here’s what we learned, by Laura Sydell – NPR
Bernie Sanders Could Replace President Trump With Little-Known Loophole, by Matt Masur – Huffington Post
The Dirtiest Political Campaign Ever? Not Even Close! by Rick Ungar – Forbes
Why Legitimize Fox News? Chris Wallace Gave Every Debate Question A Conservative Slant, by Marvin Meadors – Daily Kos
Millennial voters would turn US blue? Viral map may be misleading, by Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
Why (And How) You Should Hide These Six Popular News Sites In Facebook, by Amy Oztan – Amy Ever After
False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and/or Satirical “News” Sources, by Melissa Zimdars
Bytes of the Week:
The Perfect Time For “Loving” by Amy Oztan – Amy Ever After
Under Apartheid, Trevor Noah’s Mom Taught Him To Face Injustice With Humor – Fresh Air Podcast
Born A Crime: Stories From A South African Childhood, by Trevor Noah
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