NLP’s president writes, “For the sake of democracy, teach more civics in schools”

The News Literacy Project’s President and COO, Charles Salter, recently placed an opinion piece in The Cap Times, For the sake of democracy, teach more civics in schools:

“We must elevate social studies generally — and civics specifically — in our schools, and news literacy must be central to this curriculum. Why? We live in the most complex information landscape in human history, with disinformation being created more easily and spreading faster online than ever before. A 2019 study by the Stanford History Education Group found nearly 70% of students surveyed could not differentiate between news and advertising on a website. This problem continues into adulthood. And in 2018, the Pew Research Center reported that only 35% of adults surveyed could correctly tell the difference between opinion statements and fact-based news. We cannot hope for our democracy to continue unless citizens have the skills they need to sort fact from fiction — a prerequisite to being fully informed, equal participants in all aspects of the democratic process.”

To read the piece in full, click here.

Young people have a right to news literacy – MinnPost 

NLP’s John Silva explained in a piece for the nonprofit news site MinnPost why news literacy education  must be integrated into K-12 education across all subject areas and grade levels and be mandated as a high school graduation requirement. 

“Adults struggle to navigate this overload of information, yet we assume young people, incorrectly called ‘digital natives,’ somehow know how to do so from birth. The fact is, no one is born with innate technology skills; they must be taught and reinforced through practice. We are failing young people by not preparing them for the problematic information ecosystem they are growing up with and inheriting,” Silva wrote. “This is why young people have a right to news literacy.” 

This piece ran in MinnPost’s Community Voices section in advance of NLP’s June 15 NewsLitCamp® with the Star Tribune and Minnesota Public Radio. Silva is NLP’s senior director of education and training. 

‘Sunday TODAY’ features NLP’s efforts to combat misinformation

When the Sunday Spotlight on NBC’s Sunday TODAY with Willie Geist chose to explore the misinformation crisis and efforts to combat it, the show’s producers turned to NLP. The May 16 segment Misinformation education: How schools are teaching kids to find the truth featured NLP’s Senior Vice President of Education Peter Adams. Correspondent Joe Fryer also spoke to Georgia high school teacher Erin Wilder and New York City educator and NLP Ambassador Sandra Street and two of their students to find out more about how they’re using Checkology® to learn to recognize misinformation.

Then, in a follow up story for NBC News Now on Monday, Fryer interviewed NLP founder and CEO Alan C. Miller about how students — and adults — can challenge the credibility of information.

“While students may be digital natives…they are by no means well-equipped to navigate this incredibly fraught information landscape that they have inherited,” Miller told Fryer. “And what we’ve found is that by giving them the tools to discern credible information, to be more mindful consumers of everything that they encounter wherever and however they encounter it. This is incredibly empowering. They are their own editors. They can be their own publishers. We want them to play these roles in ways that are credible, responsible and empower their voices.”

Watch the segments to learn more about the impact of NLP’s work.

 

Adams joins discussion on how misinformation spreads

NLP’s Peter Adams, senior vice president of education, and Charles Whitaker, the dean of Northwestern University’s Medill School, took part in an in-depth conversation about how misinformation spreads and what newsrooms and social media companies should do about it. The segment News Educators Say Journalists Should ‘Slow Down’ on Social Media aired April 20 on WTTW, Chicago’s PBS station.

Photo Credit: Lori Lightfoot at MacLean Center by MacLean Center on YouTube is licensed under CC BY 3.0

Adams begins by sharing advice for news consumers. “Our recommendation is to pause, to slow down because misinformation appeals to our emotions. The most important step is to slow down, not amplify anything that isn’t confirmed, and to try to work your way back to the source. So, ask questions about it even if a lot of people are saying it on social media or repeating it on social media—where did it come from and try to figure out if it came from a verified source,” he says.

He also weighs in on the role and responsibility of tech companies. “I think [social media companies] bear significant responsibility for the spread of [misinformation] not only because they built the biggest amplification machines and disinformation networking machines in human history… but also because they profit from the engagement on their platforms.”

Check out the full WTTW segment on its website.

On April 21, Adams was interviewed by John Howell of WLS-AM in Chicago on a similar topic, why journalists need to slow down and check first before reporting false information found online. You can listen to the segment Lightfoot fake resignation tweet exposes reporting flaws on the station’s website.

 

Ms. publishes commentary on pioneering women journalists

NLP’s Ebonee Rice shares the stories of pioneering women journalists and how their work helped make the careers of current women journalists possible. She wrote the piece in honor of Women’s History Month.

“For many years, women played less visible roles in national and international media, doing their jobs while fighting for their seats at the leadership table,” Rice writes in the March 16 Ms. magazine piece, A Tribute to Women in Journalism Who Cracked Glass Ceilings.

“But this month reminds us that we need to do more to ensure young women aren’t excluded and that they have the opportunities to help create a better-informed and more news-literate world,” Rice concludes

Conn. Public Radio: How disinformation preys on our values

Connecticut Public Radio interviewed NLP’s Peter Adams for a March 9 All Things Considered segment, Why Disinformation Preys On ‘Our Most Sacred Beliefs And Values. He spoke about why misinformation has become a significant problem, what he thinks social media companies should do to curb it, why he believes legislation is coming to fight it and why all students deserve news literacy education.

“We have to understand how misinformation works — that it’s fundamentally exploitative, that it seeks to capitalize on our most sacred beliefs and values, our patriotism, our desire for equality, for fairness, our religious faith and seeks to use that against us, right, to provoke a strong emotional reaction, kind of override our rational mind, and get us to click share and reshare without thinking,” Adams says.

On the topic of whether legislation to mandate news literacy education is needed, he says, “It’s too vital, and in my view we really owe it to young people because this is the basis for their civic agency. If they can’t differentiate between something that’s true and something that’s false, they can’t make good decisions for their lives, for their families, for their futures and for the country.”

The Sift featured weekly in blog by Valerie Strauss of Washington Post

The Washington Post’s Valerie Strauss features content from The Sift® in her blog Answer Sheet weekly throughout the school year. These are the installments for the 2020-21 academic year.

Adams discusses how to be better informed on ‘Truth for Teachers’ podcast

In the Feb. 21 segment of the Truth for Teachers podcast, host Angela Watson interviews NLP’s Peter Adams on How to be informed media consumer and advocate for truth.

Adams begins by discussing why misinformation is more prevalent and provides a brief overview of how extremists of all kinds have become better networked and influential. He also explains how hate groups and conspiracy theorists have leveraged our polarization to promote their own agendas. The deeply informative conversation goes on to cover several other aspects of the information landscape. These include, among others:

  • Why objectivity does not mean staying neutral
  • What’s actually news-worthy (“How come the media isn’t talking about this?”)
  • The difference between a conspiracy and conspiracy theory
  • Intellectual humility and not demonizing everyone on “the other side”
  • Looking for disconfirming evidence of our beliefs
  • Having open, offline conversations with people who think differently
  • What it means to “do your own research”

Life of Gusto podcast: Salter shares insights on truth and misinformation

The Life of Gusto podcast host Augusto Andres interviews Chuck Salter, NLP’s president and COO for a Feb. 21 segment on truth and misinformation.  Salter shares his insights into how we arrived at this period where truth itself is under siege, the challenges of navigating our complex information landscape, and most importantly, why civics education is a key component to helping preserve our democracy.

Miller talks news literacy, media credibility on ‘The Trusted Web Podcast’

NLP founder and CEO Alan C. Miller discussed news literacy and its role in democracy on The Trusted Web Podcast, hosted by Sebastiaan van der Lans. When introducing Miller in the Feb. 10 segment, Creating News Literacy with Alan Miller, CEO of the News Literacy Project, van der Lans said, “Alan and I share a passion for a more truthful internet, and we both chose the route of building a whole category as an important way of achieving it, in Alan’s case: news literacy.”

Alan’s advice to listeners includes key first steps for becoming more news-literate, including being mindful of emotions and pausing before trusting, sharing or acting on information. “The first thing is to check your emotions, because when we see something that really inflames our emotions, whether it makes us angry or anxious or even joyful, we tend to let down our guard in terms of our skepticism about what we are seeing.”

Trust in the media

He also addresses the need for news media to work to build the public’s trust through accountability and transparency. “We live in such a hyper-connected time that things move so rapidly and move out on social media, it’s just so difficult to put the horse back in the barn when mistakes are made and then they spread and get amplified so readily,” says Miller.

Miller also stresses the need for the American education system to require the teaching of critical thinking and related news literacy skills, as part of civics education or another discipline. “If we don’t teach this to the next generation, we are denying them the ability to be full and effective participants in the civic lives of their communities and their countries. It’s not only a survival skill  that advantages those that are able to discern credible information today, but it’s an essential skill for them to participate in civic life,” he tells van der Lans.

Listen to the full conversation here.

School Library Journal spreads word about educator network

The School Library Journal spoke with Ebonee Rice on Feb. 3 about NLP’s new educator network. “We really understand that educators are the experts and educators are really on the front lines in the fight against misinformation, so we wanted to create a community where educators who are doing this work can talk to each other,” Rice says in the article News Literacy Project Launches NewsLit Nation, a National Educator Network. “The end goal is to incorporate news literacy into the American education experience, allowing people to use best practices to figure out the best way to incorporate news literacy into their specific context.”

Blavity commentary: Misinformation harming black communities

In a Feb. 2 commentary for the multi-cultural news site Blavity, Ebonee Rice, vice president of NLP’s educator network, discusses how misinformation targets minorities. In Misinformation Is Harming Our Black Communities. We Must Become News-Literate To Stop It. – Blavity, she writes:
“Last year, America confronted its legacy of racial injustice and endured the most contentious election in recent history — all during a global pandemic. And the insurgent attack on the U.S. Capitol to overturn a free and fair election only underscores how important it is to have sources of information that provide us with accurate and verifiable news, so that we’re not misled by falsehoods, hoaxes and conspiracy theories.
“If America is to move forward as a country, our democracy depends on our collective ability to sort fact from fiction. And that goal is particularly crucial for Black Americans.”