Peter Adams talks news literacy on Nobody Listens to Paula Poundstone podcast
Peter Adams, NLP’s senior vice president of education, joined the Nobody Listens to Paula Poundstone podcast on May 24 for an episode on news literacy. (The interview begins at 36:00 and ends at 1:09:00.)
Peter explained why conspiracy theories are appealing for so many. “Conspiracy theories – as complicated and as convoluted as they are – give people really simple explanations,” he said. “They break the world down into good and bad, noble patriots and evil people or whatever, and that’s a very comforting narrative.”
He also described how the current complex news and information environment differs from the past, and why it’s necessary to help students learn how to tell fact from fiction online. “We really see this as an issue of student rights and justice,” Peter said. “Students didn’t create this information environment we’ve been living in and talking about with all kinds of backwards incentives and intractable problems – they’re inheriting it.” To listen to the full episode, click here.
NLP response to Buffalo mass shooting
In response to the mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York this past Saturday, the News Literacy Project released the following statement:
“The horrific May 14 mass shooting in Buffalo was inspired by the ‘great replacement theory,’ a racist, antisemitic ideology that festers in extremist echo chambers online and has seeped into mainstream political discourse. The shooting — which killed 10 people, most of them Black — was briefly livestreamed on Twitch before being taken down, but copies of the video continue to proliferate across social media. Meanwhile, news organizations took different approaches to describing the attack and some failed to accurately describe the racist motivation that led to the shooting.
“Racist conspiracy theories like this have very real consequences and we must do a better job of responding to them. We urge these institutions to take the following steps:
- Our education system must teach young people about conspiracy theories that can lead individuals to fall for false narratives that have violent, real-world consequences. News literacy education helps people learn to think critically and gain the skills to be smart, active consumers of news and other information and engaged participants in a democracy.
- Social media companies should strengthen their content moderation standards and devote necessary resources to strictly enforce their own terms of service policies. Devastating shootings, such as this one, happen frequently enough that these platforms should be able to respond immediately to limit the spread of hateful attacks.
- News organizations should avoid using euphemisms to describe these kinds of incidents. Once it was clear that the shooter intentionally targeted Black people, using language like “racially motivated” without also describing the attacks as racist dilutes and sanitizes the intent behind it. Accuracy matters, particularly when actions are fueled by disinformation and conspiracy theories. The news media should not hesitate to use strong but accurate language — such as “racist,” “antisemitic,” “extremist” and “white supremacist” — to describe the shooting and the “great replacement” ideology that appears to have motivated it.
“Until these issues are forcefully addressed, we will continue to be vulnerable to the actions of those who have fallen down the rabbit hole of conspiratorial thinking.”
Washington Post’s Valerie Strauss showcases The Sift
The Washington Post’s Valerie Strauss features content from The Sift® in her blog Answer Sheet throughout the school year. These installments are for the 2021-22 academic year.
- ‘News and information chaos’ grows — and other news literacy lessons (May 12, 2022)
- Live-streaming Depp-Heard trial and other news literacy lessons (May 4, 2022)
- A fainting nurse, Eric Trump’s false data and more news literacy items (April 27, 2022)
- Detecting Russia’s false claims that Ukrainians are staging deaths (April 21, 2022)
- Marjorie Taylor Greene, disinformation on Ukraine casualties and other news literacy lessons (March 22, 2022)
- Russia’s fake ‘fact-checking’ Ukraine videos and other news literacy lessons (March 17, 2022)
- No, Time magazine didn’t publish a Putin-Hitler cover, and other news literacy lessons (March 10, 2022)
- Florida governor — who mocked kids for wearing masks — doubles down: ‘Curtain call for covid theater’ (March 2, 2022)
- How to avoid being duped by false Ukraine information — and other news literacy lessons (March 2, 2022)
- Joe Rogan, vaccine deniers and other news literacy lessons (Feb. 6, 2022)
- TikTok’s ‘suggestion’ algorithm, Ben Affleck’s shirt and more news literacy lessons (Jan. 14, 2022)
- How ‘Birds Aren’t Real’ became experiment in misinformation — and more news literacy lessons (Dec. 16, 2021)
- How cute animal videos are used to spread misinformation — and other news literacy lessons (Dec. 9, 2021)
- The link between covid-19 misinformation and news outlets — and other news literacy lessons (Nov. 19, 2021)
- News Literacy lessons on Facebook, Marjorie Taylor Greene and more (Nov. 7, 2021)
- Why two journalists won the Nobel Peace Prize — and other news literacy lessons (Oct. 21, 2021)
NLP in the news this spring
Between our leadership transition, op-eds and interviews, NLP has had quite a few media hits recently. Here are a few of the highlights.
EdSurge recently reported on NLP’s leadership transition. Our founder and CEO, Alan Miller, will step down and hand the reins to our president and COO, Charles Salter, as the next CEO. Reporter Emily Tate spoke to both about our plans for the future. “As NLP evolves, it will continue its work in education and build out more programming on that side,” wrote Tate. “One effort is to help more states adopt media literacy requirements, as Texas and Illinois have done. Others include plans to develop a graduate-level course that trains educators to teach news literacy and a national news literacy conference for educators and students.” Read the full story here.
NLP’s soon-to-be CEO, Charles Salter, wrote the third in his trilogy of opinion pieces about why news literacy is an essential part of civics education. In an article in School Administrator, Salter notes, “The idea that public education must play a central role in sustaining our democratic system is older than the republic itself.” He adds that “democracy cannot survive with a people uninformed – or worse, ill-informed. Today, the work to renew civic education with news literacy as a fundamental skill is not about perpetuating our democratic system. It is about saving it.” Read the full piece, “Teaching Fact from Fiction,” here.
Peter Adams was joined by NewsGuard’s Jim Warren as a guest on WBEZ Chicago’s Reset with Sasha-Ann Simons to talk about how misinformation spreads online and what people can do to protect themselves from it. When asked about what people should think about when controversial issues arise in the news, Adams told listeners, “Anytime you have a highly polarizing, contentious social issue, purveyors of misinformation and bad actors and hyperpartisans really glom on to those issues and push a lot of falsehoods…As consumers, we see a lot of information and we see a lot of posts from people we don’t know and to really gravitate toward and focus on straight news reports from credible, standards-based outlets. We’re going to see a lot of punditry, we’re going to see opinion pieces and those sometimes get the most engagement in our feeds, so they can rise to the top. But we have to be really deliberate and seek out straight coverage.” Listen to the complete interview here.
And TVNewsCheck’s Michael Depp spoke with Alan Miller about how and why we’re educating the public to become news-literate. Alan told Depp, “We do teach people not what to think, but how to think. We don’t steer them to any particular platform or outlet, or away from any. We want to give people the tools to make the judgments about everything that they encounter. Should I trust this? Should I share this? Should I act on it?…We want people to be able to have the tools to look at anything they see and ask themselves basic questions before they decide what to do with that information.” Watch the full interview here.
SVP of communications discusses importance of teaching news literacy skills to students
Mike Webb, senior vice president of communications, recently spoke with The Hill about the desperate need for news literacy curriculum in K-12 schools. The piece opened with data collected by NLP, noting that 55 percent of students were not even moderately confident in their ability to recognize false information online.
When asked about NLP’s work and mission, Webb explained, “It’s really about helping people determine fact from fiction, and its nonpartisan. We don’t have a political agenda. We believe that everybody needs to make decisions that are founded on facts. So it’s really just about giving you the skills to think critically about the news and information you encounter, whether you should act on it, share it, whatever it is.”
To read the full piece, click here.
Peter Adams, Al Jazeera discuss Russian disinformation about war in Ukraine
Peter Adams, NLP’s senior vice president of education, joined a March 16 Al Jazeera livestream to discuss Russian disinformation around the war in Ukraine.
In a video comment, Adams shared that, “There’s a lot of state-sponsored disinformation being pushed around and some of that is just aimed to create confusion and doubt, making people not sure of what they can believe. The second thing that’s happening is conspiracy theories and narratives are starting to leak into the conversation. And finally, there’s a lot of slacktivism going on. A lot of people don’t know how to help and they want to amplify positive things. They want to amplify important videos of things that seem like what other people should know about, but they’re getting duped into quick likes and shares when they should be more careful.”
To view the full, archived stream, click here.
NLP’s Peter Adams and NBC News discuss myth of digital natives’ immunity to misinformation
NBC News recently reported that despite occasionally thinking they’re less susceptible to falsehoods on the internet, Gen Z can sometimes accidentally amplify misinformation. To flesh this out further, reporter Kalhan Rosenblatt spoke with NLP’s, Peter Adams, senior vice president of education.
“If your primary way of [consuming news] is input-grazing through TikTok or Snapchat or some other platform, there’s an impulse to just kind of react in passing and not really interrogate the source,” Adams said.
He also went on to suggest that young people who want to avoid sharing misinformation should begin practicing advocating for their right not to post, particularly during breaking news events, and to abstain from the possible spread of misinformation. One way to do so? Adams offered that young people can post “something like ‘I’m going to stay quiet to let the expert voices take the floor during this difficult time’ and kind of normalize that as a statement of support.”
To read the full article, click here.
NLP’s Peter Adams discusses discerning fact from fiction on Fox 5 DC
In an interview with Fox 5 DC’s Jeannette Reyes, Peter Adams, senior vice president of education, discussed how to separate online fact from fiction.
When asked how big of a problem online mis- and disinformation actually are, Peter responded, “It’s an enormous problem and I think that is made ever more evident when you’re in a situation like the one we are in now with Ukraine and Russia. Lots of fakes [are] circulating online. The public sentiment, in the United States for the most part, is behind Ukraine and there are a lot of fakes, even on that side of the debate, where people are amplifying things that feel good and that feel right. Maybe with the best of intentions, but they’re actually out of context from 2014 or another year.”
To watch the full clip, click here.
John Silva and NewsNation on how to spot misinformation about Ukraine and Russia
Almost immediately after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, mis- and disinformation began to seep into the information landscape. In a conversation with NewsNation, John Silva, NLP’s senior director of professional learning, discussed how the public can consume Russia-Ukraine news responsibly without feeling overwhelmed.
“The first step is to look at the language that’s being used. A standards-based news organization is going to try to report on what’s happening and try to avoid superlative-loaded language,” Silva said. “They’re trying to avoid language that is making a judgment, for example. It’s about describing what’s happening in a way that is fair and accurate.”
To read the full piece and for more tips on consuming news media without feeling overwhelmed, click here.
Carol McCarthy pens op-ed: ‘Put women who capture history with a camera in the big picture’
For Women’s History Month, Carol McCarthy, NLP’s director of communications, penned an op-ed titled, “Put women who capture history with a camera in the big picture.” The piece, published by Stars and Stripes, an independent news source about the U.S. military, honors some of the female photojournalists who brought their unique visions to important stories, usually in harm’s way and often in unwelcoming workplaces.
McCarthy notes that, “…recognizing their accomplishments is about more than acknowledging gender barriers. It’s also about valuing different voices — or visions — in news coverage. Reporting on complex events, such as war and its consequences, requires context, accuracy and insight that demand varied perspectives. This is something students of news literacy learn.”
To read the full piece and to celebrate Women’s History Month by learning about influential female journalists, click here.
John Silva joins CapRadio to talk misinformation amid Russian invasion of Ukraine
In an interview with CapRadio’s Insight program, John Silva, NLP’s senior director of professional learning, discussed how to navigate the misinformation swirling around Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Insight provides background and understanding on breaking news, big events, politics and culture in the Sacramento region and beyond.
“The first thing we have to do is take a step back and just pause how we’re scrolling through information,” Silva explained. “We have to acknowledge our role in the spread of misinformation. So much of what gets shared is not because of the sources that created it and put it out there, it’s us – we’re amplifying it.”
To listen to the full interview, click here.
NLP’s John Silva speaks with the AP about how to avoid spreading misinformation around Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
This week, Russia invaded Ukraine, and with it came a blizzard of mis- and disinformation across social media platforms. John Silva, NLP’s senior director of professional learning, spoke with The Associated Press about propaganda and fake videos circulating on social media as Russia invaded Ukraine.
A video captured by The AP in Libya more than a decade ago was shared widely, for example, with users incorrectly stating that it showed a Russian fighter jet plummeting to the ground after being shot down by Ukrainian forces. Other social media users shared misleading video of soldiers supposedly parachuting into Ukraine, after a Russian account posted the years-old footage as the invasion was underway.
“People who see these videos, photos and claims online are likely to watch them, share them and move on with their day,” Silva said. “We see a paratrooper, he’s speaking Russian, and so we don’t take the time to question it. If we see a piece of information that’s new to us, we have this compulsion to share it with others.”
To read the full piece, click here.