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 through the school year. These are the installments so far 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.”

NewsLit Week | Enrique Acevedo: Urge un consumo responsable de información entre la comunidad latinx
 en Estados Unidos

Enrique Acevedo es periodista en Estados Unidos. Es el primer corresponsal latino en la historia del programa ’60 Minutes’ y miembro del consejo directivo de The News Literacy Project.

Unas semanas antes de la elección presidencial de noviembre pasado aquí en Estados Unidos, comenzaron a circular mensajes con información falsa en Facebook y WhatsApp sobre la supuesta posición respecto al aborto de los entonces candidatos demócratas a la presidencia y vicepresidencia, Joe Biden y Kamala Harris. Entre los mensajes destacaba una imagen que aseguraba que ambos apoyaban el aborto hasta minutos antes del nacimiento. Si la criatura sobrevivía al aborto, decía falsamente el meme, los demócratas estaban de acuerdo en que el bebé fuera asesinado.

Es posible que este y otros mensajes falsos hayan terminado en las manos de algún lector, por medio de las redes sociales o de aplicaciones de mensajes instantáneos y que, al verlos, cualquiera haya asumido que lo que dicen es verdad. No lo es. Mensajes como este abundaron durante la campaña presidencial y muestran la escala de la información falsa o desinformación que inunda nuestras vidas. Se trata de contenido manipulado, distorsionado, incompleto o fuera de contexto, y si no tomamos medidas para reducir su impacto, seguirá siendo una amenaza seria a la vida de millones de personas, como ha ocurrido durante la pandemia, así como para el orden democrático.

Durante el proceso electoral de 2020 se intensificaron los esfuerzos deliberados para manipular votos y para crear divisiones dentro del electorado latinx. Individuos y organizaciones se dedicaron a difundir falsedades y mentiras para limitar su habilidad de tomar decisiones basadas en hechos verificables. Aunque gran parte de esta desinformación estuvo enfocada en la contienda presidencial, también sobran ejemplos de información falsa sobre el movimiento Black Lives Matter y sobre la pandemia de COVID-19.

Opinion: Urge un consumo responsable de información entre la comunidad latinx
 en Estados Unidos

NewsLit Week | Editorial makes the case for news literacy

The Jan. 27 editorial in the Hutchinson Leader of Minnesota, This National News Literacy Week, pledge to be a more discerning consumer of media, makes the case for news literacy and offers readers advice on how to become more news-literate.

The editors write:

“Do you know how to read the news?

“We don’t just mean reading, but do you know how to discern what is legitimate news and what is not? Do you know the difference between news stories and opinions? Is this even important?

“To answer our own question, yes, it’s extremely important. That’s why we’re joining other media organizations this week to promote the second annual National News Literacy Week.”

NewsLit Week | Worland tells columnist, need for fact-checking not going away

Now is no time to let down our guard on fact-checking, Darragh Worland, NLP’s vice president of creative services, tells Bob Oswald of The Daily Herald, a newspaper outside of Chicago.

“It would be a mistake to go too easy on Biden because (fact checkers) are fatigued from Trump fact checking,” she says in the Jan. 27 piece The News Literacy Project keeps pressure on fact checking. “People need to know what their leaders are doing.”

In his column, Oswald notes: “Although misinformation has been flowing since the beginning of time, Worland admits that fact checking over the past four years has been even more exhausting for news consumers and journalists.”

Getting to the facts is not easy for anyone, she notes. “With the opposing narratives, it has been hard for anybody to wrap their head around the truth,” Worland says. “But we’re not going to stop until every American is news literate.”

Worland: Recent events underscore urgent need for news literacy

Darragh Worland lays out the urgent need for news literacy education to readers of The San Francisco Chronicle in the Jan. 27 piece We need news literacy education in our schools — now! (Please note: Article is behind a paywall.)

She opens the piece by noting the role of conspiracy theories and misinformation in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. “Dear reader: By now you likely know that the shocking Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol was largely the result of millions of Americans believing in an alternative reality (that the 2020 presidential election had been stolen, even though it wasn’t). The attack was a terrifying example of the destructive, harmful impact of disinformation.”

“The reality that an alternative information ecosystem can come dangerously to life provides even more urgency to the need for news literacy education as a national priority, taught in schools across the spectrum, from Bangor, Maine, to San Diego, Miami and Seattle. Failing to provide our children with the knowledge and skills needed to recognize credible and accurate information is more than a disservice — it’s disempowering, putting them at a significant civic disadvantage as they face a more complex information environment than ever before.

“If a student doesn’t understand the difference between a news story and an opinion column or how to spot dangerously misleading disinformation, the consequences can be dire. Those who believe falsehoods about COVID-19 have flouted public health guidelines, endangering family members and friends. Some have been sickened by ingesting bleach, touted falsely as a COVID-19 treatment; others have died as a result of taking false cures (one example).”

Worland also explains how the loss of standards-based sources of news is only worsening the problem.

“The number of quality, standards-based news organizations — especially at the local level — is shrinking. As news consumers let newspaper subscriptions lapse, gravitating instead to free online sources (many of which are not standards-based), advertisers follow. One in five newspapers across the country has closed, leaving communities across the country with little to no coverage and stripping them of their local watchdogs. By some estimates, 1,300 communities across the country lack any local news outlet, leaving them with no independent oversight of local government and business.

“Why should we care? that the loss of local news outlets results in greater polarization in voting, as residents retreat to those echo chambers online where their biases are encouraged and left unchallenged.

“Add to that a lack of appreciation for the role of a free press in a democracy and growing public disdain for journalists, and you have a recipe for what we saw on display at the Capitol.

“If we don’t teach the next generation of Americans what sets quality journalism apart, give them an appreciation for the central watchdog role journalists play in holding the powerful to account, or help them understand why democracy can’t function without a working independent news media, then we have no hope of turning this dangerous situation around.”

 

 

NewsLit Week | Michigan students committed to fact-based journalism

Michigan students tell FOX 17 how they are committed to fact-checking and getting the whole story in the segment Rockford High School students showcase news literacy skills, which aired on Jan. 25. The students produce their own broadcast program Beyond the Rock.

NewsLit Week | TV station KATC takes part in news literacy campaign

KATC participates in second annual News Literacy Week, the television station based in Lafayette, Louisiana, reports on Jan. 25. The station will premiere stories related to the topic of news literacy on-air and online at katc.com.