Teach news literacy this week Student press freedoms | Royal rumors | 'Prebunking' works
Note: Welcome to the first issue of The Sift® for the 2022-23 school year! We’re thrilled to be back in your inbox. Each week we’ll bring you a concise roadmap of the week’s top news literacy topics and viral rumor examples, with ideas and tips for classroom integration from the NLP team. Be sure to check out each week’s Dig Deeper classroom-ready resource and watch for special features like our monthly News Goggles resources. As always, we encourage you to share any feedback or ideas to help us ensure that The Sift is as helpful as possible to your teaching.
Young Americans “are more engaged in more ways than people give them credit for,” but are reportedly worn out by the news and enjoying it less, according to a new survey by Media Insight Project. About 79% of young Americans ages 16 to 40 — which includes millennials and members of Generation Z — say they get the news daily, but the sources they turn to vary. While about 45% of respondents say they use traditional news sources daily, nearly 80% get news each day from social media platforms, including Facebook (40%), YouTube (37%), Instagram (34%) and TikTok (29%). Additionally, a whopping nine out of 10 people in this age group say misinformation is a problem.
Discuss: Where do you get news? How do social media platforms affect your news consumption? Do you seek out specific sources of news online or do they “find” you through algorithmic suggestions? Does today’s digital landscape contribute to news fatigue? What do you like and dislike about consuming the news? Who is most responsible for the spread of misinformation online?
Idea: Ask students to keep a news log for a week. How often did they consume news? What sources did they turn to? How did they feel following the news?
There’s a battle over censorship at a journalism and communications magnet school in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Students noticed their librarian left after a vaccine mandate was implemented — effectively closing their school library — and reported it in their school newspaper. When school administrators and the librarian demanded her name be removed from the story online, the students refused. The school district penalized the students’ newspaper advisor with a three-day unpaid suspension, even though legal counsel through the Student Press Law Center found that the students’ reporting was within their First Amendment rights.
Note: Journalism teacher Adriana Chavira has been highly engaged with the News Literacy Project for several years and currently serves as a NewsLit Nation news literacy ambassador.
Discuss: Do the press protections in the First Amendment apply to student journalists? How should journalists balance the right to know and the right to privacy when reporting the news? Do you agree with the students’ decision to name the librarian who declined to follow the vaccine mandate? Is this a newsworthy story for students at this school? What challenges do student journalists face when covering their school communities?
When students are taught media literacy or critical thinking skills, they’re 26% less likely to believe in a conspiracy theory. That’s one of many takeaways in a new report by the Reboot Foundation, which examines the link between low science and media literacy and conspiracy beliefs. Science knowledge also proved to be a boon, as survey respondents who scored high on the foundation’s science quiz were nearly 40% less likely to believe a conspiracy theory. Support for media literacy in schools was overwhelmingly high, with 84% of respondents saying they felt it should be required.
No, the BBC didn’t change its website banner to black before Queen Elizabeth II’s death
NO: The BBC did not change the banner on its homepage from red to black in preparation for Queen Elizabeth II's passing. YES: The standard banner on the BBC homepage has long been black, while the standard banner on the BBC News homepage is red.
NewsLit takeaway: Major breaking news events result in a flood of information. As everyone rushes online to share updates, speculate about recent developments and post jokes, criticism and hot takes, it creates a confusing landscape to navigate. When this claim was shared on social media, many people (including a couple members of the News Literacy Project) accepted this rumor as fact because it seemed intuitively true. Remember to pause and critically examine the claims on your feed before amplifying posts that could potentially spread false information.
NewsLit takeaway: Confirmation bias often causes people to uncritically embrace falsehoods that support their existing views. In this case, some critics of Greene may have accepted this false claim without pausing to raise questions about its authenticity simply because they wanted it to be true, since it provided an opportunity to mock the Georgia congresswoman. If they would have examined this message a bit more closely, they may have noticed a few red flags:
The claim was made without evidence. Anyone can add a caption to a video and claim it shows something that it does not. No links were provided to any sources that could support the claims in this tweet.
This video was posted by a politically partisan account. While that does not by itself mean the claims are false, content from clearly biased sources should cause readers to pause. Was this message posted to score political points or was it posted to relay factual information?
Beyond these red flags, there’s also the fact that Greene would have been 27 years old in 2001 — three years older than the age limit to audition for “American Idol” at that time. Greene’s spokesperson told Lead Stories that the woman in the video “doesn’t look like [Greene] and obviously isn’t her.”
Photo of ‘devastated’ King Charles III was taken days before Queen Elizabeth II’s death
NewsLit takeaway: It is easy to get caught up in the moment during a breaking news event. As we try to keep up with the flood of information in our social media feeds, it’s tempting to take things at face value so we can keep scrolling. When a photograph of a devastated-looking Charles started circulating after news of Elizabeth’s death, many accepted it as genuine because it was poignant and because it just felt true. When an image is paired with a claim, especially during a major event, it’s natural to perceive a connection.
You can find this week's rumor examples to use with students in these slides.
Imagine an ad airing before your YouTube video that psychologically boosts your resilience against misinformation by displaying examples in pop culture of common manipulation techniques, such as false dichotomies or scapegoating. New research found this form of prebunking, or preemptive debunking, is largely effective in the fight for facts — a good thing since YouTube is now described as the world’s most influential media company.
Before YouTube had its recommended videos algorithm, content was curated by a team of so-called “coolhunters.”
An elected county official was arrested in connection with the killing of Las Vegas Review-Journal investigative reporter Jeff German, who was stabbed to death outside his home on Sept. 2. Prosecutors linked German’s investigative coverage of the politician to the crime, and his death sparked renewed concerns about violence against journalists.
Independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta was effectively banned from operating in the country after a Moscow court stripped it of its media license. Editor-in-chief Dmitry Muratov plans to fight the ruling, which he said had no legal basis. Muratov was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last year for his efforts to support press freedoms.