GSAN: Texas rumors | Granting fresh starts | Media literacy test?

Subscribe to our free weekly newsletter for the general public Get Smart About News.


Learn about news literacy this week

Texas rumors | Granting fresh starts | Media literacy test?


Viral rumor rundown

NO: Frozen wind turbines were not the primary cause of the recent power outages in Texas. YES: Texas mostly relies on natural gas for power and heat. YES: Wind energy comprises only 10 percent of the power in the state generated during the winter, according to energy experts. YES: All sources of power in Texas — including natural gas, coal and nuclear energy in addition to renewable sources like wind and solar — were affected by a record stretch of cold temperatures, with freezing components causing shutdowns in operations and supply chains.


NO: Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz did not tweet in 2016 that he’ll “believe in climate change when Texas freezes over.” YES: That’s an image of a fake tweet.

Tip: Convincing images of fake tweets are extremely easy to create. Be wary of old, “too perfect” tweets from public figures. They are often fakes.


NO: The price of crude oil was not $25 a barrel on Jan. 20, 2021, when President Joe Biden took office. YES: Crude oil was more than $53 a barrel on Biden’s Inauguration Day. YES: The price of oil was $59.47 when this post was published.

Note: False and misleading claims about Biden’s policies driving up gas prices started to circulate before Election Day and have persisted during his first month in office.

Also note: The prices of crude oil and natural gas have recently risen due to cold weather, and the price of gasoline — which plummeted at the start of the pandemic — is expected to continue to rise as demand returns to normal.


★ NewsLit Picks


“Who Deserves to Have Their Past Mistakes ‘Forgotten’?” (Rachael Allen, Slate).

More newspapers are establishing policies to decide on requests from people asking for previous news coverage about them to be updated or removed. This Slate report offers a good overview of recent efforts and details actions taken by The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, which began its “Right to be Forgotten” policy a few years ago, and The Boston Globe. The Globe’s initiative was announced in January, after the newsroom had reflected on “its own practices and how they have affected communities of color.” Globe staff — in a sentiment also included in Slate’s piece — said on the appeal form: “We are not in the business of rewriting the past, but we don’t want to stand in the way of a regular person’s ability to craft their future.” Requests to newspapers sometimes come from people who want their names removed from older stories that still exist online about minor crimes or public mistakes. The Globe noted it will have a high standard for removal regarding serious crimes and stories about public figures.

Related: “An old arrest can follow you forever online. Some newspapers want to fix that.” (Elahe Izadi, The Washington Post).


Quick Picks

“Olivia Munn, Awkwafina and More Celebrities Call for Action Amid Rise in Attacks Against Asian Americans” (Antonio Ferme, Variety).


Opinion: “Don’t Go Down the Rabbit Hole” (Charlie Warzel, The New York Times).

  • Note: The SIFT method featured in this column was created by Mike Caulfield in 2019 based on the “Four Moves” verification technique he introduced in 2017. Though we endorse this approach, it is not affiliated with The Sift newsletter. The credit belongs entirely to Caulfield.
  • Related: “SIFT (The Four Moves)” (Mike Caulfield, Hapgood).


Opinion: “Why using Facebook and YouTube should require a media literacy test” (Mark Sullivan, Fast Company).


“Accountability suffers as newspaper closures grow in SC, nation” (Glenn Smith and Tony Bartelme, The Post and Courier).

  • Note: This article is part of a new project called “Uncovered,” which was launched by The Post and Courier as a collaboration with smaller community newspapers in South Carolina “to cast new light on questionable government conduct, especially in smaller towns.”

Thanks for reading!

Your weekly issue of Get Smart About News is created by Peter Adams (@PeterD_Adams), Suzannah Gonzales and Hannah Covington (@HannahCov) of the News Literacy Project. It is edited by NLP’s Mary Kane (@marykkane).

Sign up to receive NLP Connections (news about our work) or switch your subscription to the educator version of Get Smart About News called The Sift® here.


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