The Sift: News Goggles: Headlines | Viral TikToks of 2023


Teach news literacy this week
News Goggles: Headlines | Viral TikToks of 2023

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classroom-ready icon Dig deeper: Don’t miss this week’s classroom-ready resource.
News Goggles
Click on the image to play a video of Hannah Covington of the News Literacy Project interviewing Flora Peir of The 19th about interpreting news headlines.

News Goggles is back with fresh news literacy insights and a behind-the-scenes look at news coverage. Ever wonder how journalists see news? Put on a pair of “news goggles” to find out!

In this video, we talk to news editor Flora Peir of The 19th*, a nonprofit newsroom that reports on gender, politics and policy. Peir discusses how headlines get written in a newsroom and the purpose they serve. We examine some common features of headlines and discuss what might compel a news organization to change, update or correct a headline after it has been published. We also define “clickbait” and consider how a headline’s tone and word choice can call the credibility of a source into question. Grab your news goggles!

Note: You can explore previous News Goggles videos, annotations and activities in NLP’s Resource Library under “Classroom Activities.”


Idea: Contact a journalist using NLP’s Newsroom to Classroom program and arrange a discussion for your students about the role of headlines in news coverage.

classroom-ready icon Dig deeper: Use this viewing guide for the featured News Goggles video to help students take notes on interpreting news headlines.

Top pick


Russian propagandists are duping celebrities on Cameo to create the appearance of support for President Vladimir Putin in the war against Ukraine. They used the site — which sells personalized videos from famous people — to request videos for a “fan” named Vladimir who needed a pep talk as he entered treatment for drug and alcohol abuse.

Actors Elijah Wood and Priscilla Presley and boxer Mike Tyson are among the celebrities who recorded Cameo videos. “Hi Vladimir, Elijah here,” Wood says in his video. “I hope you get the help that you need.” The videos were manipulated and shared on social media, then reported on in Russian government-owned or control news media, according to a new report by Microsoft’s Threat Analysis Center.

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You can find this week's rumor example to use with students in these slides.

Viral posts falsely claim Hamas is using dolls to stage infant deaths

An Instagram post featuring a video montage of hands squeezing several toy dolls is accompanied by the text “Hamas has been using fake dolls in their latest propaganda to garner the world’s sympathy. Just one question: If so many babies are dying, why use fake dolls and lie?” The News Literacy Project has added a label that says, “FALSE CONTEXT.”

NO: This video is not evidence that Hamas is staging the deaths of Palestinian infants using realistic-looking baby dolls. YES: These dolls are “reborn” rubber dolls made to resemble real infants and this footage of them predates the Israel-Hamas war. YES: Thousands of children have been killed during the Israel-Hamas war, including numerous infants. YES: False claims about atrocities being staged, either with “crisis actors” or toy props, are common during war and conflicts.

NewsLit takeaway: Minimizing the atrocities of war — and other incomprehensible mass casualty events — by claiming that they are staged or faked is a common tactic of propagandists and denialists. As these claims get repeated in new iterations of viral posts, they can start to feel true, which can make people more likely to accept these false assertions as they see more of them. This is an example of the “illusory truth effect.”

This Instagram video comes on the heels of several similar (and false) rumors that Hamas was using dolls to lie about infant deaths. Remember, always double-check the evidence when encountering a sensational claim on social media. In this case, the video provides visual evidence that rubber dolls exist, but offers no proof the dolls were being used to stage infant deaths.

Conspiracy theorist and Sandy Hook denialist Alex Jones was banned from Twitter in 2018 but was reinstated on the platform (now called X) on Dec. 10 following an online poll posted by the site’s owner, Elon Musk.
As a fatal shooting unfolded Dec. 6 at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, students and faculty who searched for updates online were met with a flood of misinformation.
What’s coming for journalism in 2024? Leaders in the field discuss everything from generative AI to election news in Nieman Lab’s annual roundup of journalism predictions.
Most readers say they prefer to know whether AI was used in the news they’re seeing, which standards-based news outlets generally disclose — but new research found that adding an AI-generated label also makes some people trust it less.
If you’ve posted photos on Facebook or Instagram, it’s possible your photos were among the 1.1 billion images Meta used to train its new AI-image generator.
News deserts are civically disempowering for the people who live in them. Two local news experts argue that fixing this problem would benefit the entire country.
Russia rejected an offer from the Biden administration for the release of Evan Gershkovich, the first American journalist detained in Russia since the Cold War. He has been detained since March.
What do Selena Gomez’s skincare routine and a whining French bulldog have in common? They’re both among the top ten most viral TikTok videos of the year.
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Thanks for reading!

Your weekly issue of The Sift is created by Susan Minichiello (@susanmini), Dan Evon (@danieljevon), Peter Adams (@PeterD_Adams), Hannah Covington (@HannahCov) and Pamela Brunskill (@PamelaBrunskill). It is edited by Mary Kane (@marykkane) and Lourdes Venard (@lourdesvenard).

You’ll find teachable moments from our previous issues in the archives. Send your suggestions and success stories to [email protected].

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Check out NLP's Checkology virtual classroom, where students learn how to navigate today’s information landscape by developing news literacy skills.