Combating misinformation through news literacy

On January 20, President Joe Biden stood on the steps of the U.S. Capitol and addressed America by stating, “We should reject the tradition through which info themselves are manipulated and even manufactured.” The occasions that had unfurled simply days earlier, through the January 6 assault on these exact same steps, reveal what’s at stake when we don’t.

However when rumors, lies, and misinformation are allowed to proliferate in our democracy, just by being shared on-line or on air, I’m afraid it’s not onerous to grasp how we arrived right here.

The place we at the moment are is an more and more digital world that makes it tougher than ever to differentiate verified info and goal journalism from opinion, propaganda, and even complete fiction. Or, as just lately termed by the Edelman Belief Barometer’s latest survey on public belief, we’re at the moment in an “surroundings of knowledge chapter.”


To know how insidious an issue we face, we have to acknowledge the dilemma the place social media throws fuel on the burning hearth that’s disinformation. The velocity at which info is shared presents a lesson as to why. A 2018 study by scholars at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology discovered that it takes true tales about six instances as lengthy to succeed in 1,500 folks because it does for false tales to succeed in the identical variety of folks on Twitter.

Although the inauguration marks the start of a brand new administration, and hopefully a dedication to transparency and info, it’s the work all of us should do now that can decide how we transfer ahead as a rustic. So how can we reject a tradition through which “info themselves are manipulated and even manufactured?” I define a couple of ideas.

Lead with honesty

Begin by initiating sincere conversations with family and friends about how they devour info. Daily, we depend on social media to remain related, particularly as the continued pandemic requires us to proceed to be bodily aside. Nevertheless, our rising dependence on social media to devour and share info—notably for youthful folks—means we should apply even higher scrutiny to the knowledge we devour. I’m routinely utilizing my daughters’ experiences with social media as a chance to level out how they’ll train important interested by the knowledge they search for and share. A dialogue on info consumption is acceptable for a quiet and communal sit-down, like throughout dinnertime with kids or mother and father.

Take into account our personal social media engagement

It’s simply too simple to mindlessly retweet or share, unintentionally placing your stamp of approval on doubtful content material. In accordance with the Edelman Belief Barometer, 57% of individuals share or ahead news gadgets they discover to be fascinating, however solely 29% report utilizing news literacy abilities once they share them. As outlined by the research, to make use of news literacy abilities means common engagement with news, avoiding info echo chambers, verifying info, in addition to not amplifying unvetted info. The News Literacy Project, a nationwide nonprofit training group, recommends that earlier than we share a social media put up, we pause for 30 seconds to think about its supply, its objective, and confirm with an internet search to verify it’s from a reputable, standards-based group.

Develop into a neighborhood ambassador for news literacy

Vital-thinking abilities and knowledgeable debate have lengthy been the hallmark of civics courses throughout the nation—empowering college students with abilities to guage and weigh sources of knowledge and giving them the instruments they should develop as much as be civically engaged members of our society.

However as civics courses have disappeared in favor of Frequent Core and examined curriculum, there’s grown a spot in lots of our colleges. We are able to cut back the affect of misinformation by making news literacy part of the academic expertise in each center faculty and highschool.


Create a wholesome info weight loss plan

For the good thing about the communities and the audiences they serve, journalists throughout the nation should preserve their pens to their notebooks, their cameras rolling, and their dedication to info the very best precedence. Their job is to not inform us what to imagine, however to face to the aspect and report and doc.

Because the news shopper, stability your info consumption with a wide range of sources that embrace fact-based reporting and storytelling from dependable news sources, together with native and nationwide news retailers that adhere to a standard set of moral tips.

Pledge to turn out to be news literate

The occasions on the Capitol on January 6 should be a clarion name for journalists, educators, faculty directors, and neighborhood leaders. Really rejecting a tradition through which, as our president stated, “info themselves are manipulated and even manufactured,” requires us to look inward at our personal information-consumption habits, forcing us to scrutinize our social news feeds and empower ourselves to take civic motion.

Adam Symson is president and CEO of the E.W. Scripps Company and a former investigative broadcast journalist for native and nationwide tv retailers. Just lately, Scripps collaborated with the News Literacy Project, a nationwide nonpartisan training nonprofit, to launch the second annual Nationwide News Literacy Week in January 2021.