Numbers and data play an important role in journalism. Data can illuminate trends, provide context and deepen our understanding of complex issues.
This week, we talk to data journalist Nami Sumida about her work reporting stories and creating interactive graphics on the San Francisco Chronicle’s data team. Sumida shares about the crucial role of methodology and transparency in data journalism. We examine several common sources of data that journalists use and discuss what makes some data sets more reliable than others. We also consider how charts, graphs, maps and other data visualizations can help people make sense of what numbers are communicating about our world. Grab your news goggles!
Note: This is the final News Goggles video of the school year. We will return in the fall with more resources. You can explore previous News Goggles videos and activities in NLP’s Resource Library under “Classroom Activities.”
Idea: Contact a journalist using NLP’s Newsroom to Classroom program and ask them about how they use data in their reporting.
Dig deeper: Use this viewing guide for the featured News Goggles video to help students take notes on the role of data in journalism.
Can a public school ban clothes with the political slogan “Let’s go Brandon” on them? The mother of two Michigan students is suing their school district after her sons were told to take off their “Let’s go Brandon” sweatshirts at school. The school district said it prohibits “vulgar and profane” clothing, and that the political slogan is a “transparent code for using profanity against the President.” In contrast, the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression — a civil liberties organization representing the students — said the ban against “Let’s go Brandon” apparel was “part of a pattern of political favoritisms by the school district” and violated students’ First Amendment rights.
Discuss: What five freedoms does the First Amendment protect? Do you think the students’ sweatshirts are protected under the First Amendment or not? Why?
Idea: Have students watch this short ACLU explainer video about Tinker v. Des Moines. What are some similarities between this past First Amendment case and this lawsuit with the two Michigan students?
ADHD-related content on TikTok is surging — with over 20 billion views — but it’s not all reliable. Some videos about attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder on the platform are ads produced by drug companies or fake programs exploiting users by offering to diagnose ADHD for a fee. This ADHD coach recommends taking a pause when encountering ADHD information on TikTok and seeking credible medical news or consulting a medical professional for ADHD.
Discuss: How often do you come across posts about mental health on TikTok or other social media platforms? Do you engage with them? Why do you think mental health is such a big topic on social media?
Idea: As a class, search for ADHD content on TikTok and evaluate one or more posts with students. Ask them: Why do you think this video was made? What kind of ADHD claims were made? How can you tell whether it’s credible or not?
The first AI-generated presidential election ad in America was released last week by the Republican National Committee on YouTube. It featured AI-generated imagery of a sensationalized, dystopian future that, according to the ad, could come to pass if President Joe Biden were re-elected. Throughout the video, a disclaimer in small font discloses that the ad was “built entirely with AI imagery.”
Discuss: Is it ethical to use AI-generated imagery in election ads? Why or why not? Is the emotional impact of this AI-generated election ad different in any way from the impact of traditional election ads? What role do you think generative AI tools will play in the 2024 election?
NO: This is not an authentic video of President Joe Biden calling former President Donald Trump an idiot or explaining the meaning of the word “denigrate” to Trump’s supporters. YES: This clip was created by adding AI-generated audio to a genuine video of Biden addressing the United Nations General Assembly in September 2022. YES: The account that originally shared this video states in the bio on its profile page that it posts digital fabrications and used the hashtags #aivoiceover and #ai on the post.
NewsLit takeaway: The prevalence of AI digital manipulation tools makes it all that more important to pause and double-check sources before believing or sharing digital photos and videos, as they can appear quite convincing at first glance. Taking a second to investigate this viral video by clicking on the account’s profile, for example, reveals this account notes in its bio that its content is created with an AI-voice generator.
YES: Twitter states on its website that “the blue checkmark means that the account has an active subscription to Twitter Blue.” NO: Blue checkmarks on Twitter are no longer a reliable signal of authenticity. NO: These images do not show authentic tweets posted by author J.K. Rowling, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, actress Alyssa Milano or the Chicago Department of Transportation. YES: Several high-profile accounts, such as author Stephen King and NBA star LeBron James, still have blue check marks despite not paying for this subscription service.
NewsLit takeaway: Twitter’s verification symbol (a blue check mark) used to indicate that an account was owned by the person or group that it claimed to represent. This is no longer always the case. The blue check mark may indicate that a person is a paying member of the Twitter Blue subscription service. To learn key strategies for evaluating the authenticity of a Twitter account — including analyzing follower counts, creation date, and links to and from — read the full entry on RumorGuard.
Ask a group of journalists to define and explain journalistic objectivity, and you’ll likely get a variety of answers. Wesley Lowery, an outspoken critic of traditional conceptions of journalistic objectivity, took aim in an op-ed at what he says is a misguided focus on the perception of objectivity over emphasis on “a fair reporting process.”
Tech news website VentureBeat revealed it uses the Bing chatbot to help with writing and editing stories, although it doesn’t use AI to generate entire articles — raising ethical concerns.
To write his stories, prison journalist Jason Walker has used a typewriter, toilet paper, paper sacks, the inside of books — and even scratched words in the wall. While Walker’s investigative reporting from a Texas prison sheds light on major issues for incarcerated people, it also presents risks to his safety.
Do you have a favorite celebrity, online influencer or public intellectual you turn to for news and information? You’re not alone. A Gallup and Knight Foundation study found that nearly nine out of 10 Americans follow at least one “public individual” for information, and this series explores how and why.
Should the U.S. government ban kids under the age of 13 from using social media? A bipartisan bill introduced in Congress last week would do just that — and require parental consent for teens 13 to 17.