Column in Cleveland Plain Dealer touts NLP’s work

Ken Wood, a former journalist and director of communications for Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Ohio, writes about the importance of NLP’s work in the Cleveland Plain Dealer on Dec. 20. In Empower yourself to stop the spread of false information, he tells of learning about NLP after meeting Director of Communications Carol McCarthy at a conference last year and notes that the ability to sort fact from fiction is an “evident and urgent” need not limited by age.

“”So what is at stake here? Why is this important?

“A healthy democracy depends on a free press — warts and all — and whether people have the ability to determine whether information is credible,” Wood says.

He ends with a call to action for readers. “Let’s all get better at separating fact from fiction. There is a lot more at stake here than you might think.”

Miller discusses media, partisan divide on ‘Washington Journal’

On C-SPAN’s Washington Journal today, NLP founder and CEO Alan C. Miller called on the public, the nation’s education system and news media outlets to step up and help combat the virulent spread of misinformation threatening American democracy.

John McArdle, host of the call-in show, spoke with Miller about his recent commentary on how misinformation is creating “alternative realities” for some Americans.

“I think this is one of the great existential challenges of our times. It is a question of whether facts will continue to matter,” Miller said.

During the hour-long program, callers across the nation asked Miller a wide range of questions – from baseless claims of election fraud to instances of media bias. One caller decried the lack of civics education in our nation’s schools, Miller endorsed his view. “I completely agree about the need to bring back civics, to give the next generation a grounding in American government. At the core of that should be critical thinking skills to know how to sort fact and fiction and what information to trust and share,” Miller said. “Our democracy depends on an electorate that is informed and engaged, not misinformed and enraged.”

What the media can do

Turning to questions about the media, Miller warned against painting the industry with a broad brush. He pointed out that standards-based journalism and highly partisan outlets cannot be viewed through the same lens. But he also noted that journalists need to do a better job as the nation transitions to a new presidential administration.

“I think that journalists need to double down on verification, accuracy, transparency and accountability. They need to tell the truth and call out lies and avoid false balance,” he said, calling for tough but fair coverage of President-elect Joe Biden’s administration.

While acknowledging that President Trump will remain a legitimate news story regarding his political influence and legal challenges, Miller recommended that reporters turn off their notifications of his tweets.

Personal responsibility is key

Miller encouraged viewers to be responsible news consumers and to become part of the information solution instead of the misinformation problem. “Everybody has a responsibility to look at anything we encounter, any piece of news and ask ourselves who created this, for what purpose? Is it intended to inform or divide? Is there bias? What about the bias I bring to what I’m looking at? Step back and ask yourself, ‘is this something I should trust, share and act on.’ ”

In asking the public to verify the credibility of the content they consume, he noted that fact-checking organizations can be valuable resources. ”I think the independent fact-checkers play an important role,  and by and large they are credible forces for people to look to when things are in dispute,” he said. He pointed out that they do not ask the public to simply trust their conclusions. “They show their findings and the basis for their determinations and are transparent on where their funding comes from.”

And he urged the public to pledge, “false information stops with me.”

You can watch the full conversation here.

NLP founder named a Washingtonian of the Year

Alan Miller

Photograph by Jeff Elkins

Every year, Washingtonian magazine chooses a handful of local residents “who give their time and talents to make this a better place” and names them “Washingtonians of the Year.”

NLP is proud to announce that Alan C. Miller, our founder and CEO, is a 2020 Washingtonian of the Year honoree. Below is an excerpt from the piece recognizing his achievements.

Origin story

When Pulitzer-winning LA Times reporter Alan Miller conceived of the News Literacy Project in 2006, the media — and the world — was in a different place. Facebook and iPhones were just taking off, phrases like “fake news” and “alternative facts” weren’t mainstream, and the educational field of news literacy didn’t exist. But after speaking to his daughter’s sixth-grade classmates, Miller felt it was essential to teach youth how to be “smart, active consumers of news and information”—a goal that has never felt more urgent.

“I was concerned about how they were evaluating a tsunami of information from sources with varying credibility, accountability, and transparency—and that was on a PC,” says Miller, who launched NLP, a national education nonprofit, from his Bethesda home in 2008.

‘Rigorously nonpartisan’

Those tools have come to fruition in Checkology, a free virtual-learning platform for middle- and high-schoolers that teaches how to discern credible information, bias, and misinformation. Checkology, which like NLP is “rigorously nonpartisan,” has been used by educators in all 50 states and dozens of other countries. By 2022, NLP’s goal is to reach 3 million students annually. The news-literacy mission has become even more dire in the pandemic, when discerning fact from fiction can truly be a matter of life or death.

Read the full profile.

TV news features Staying Sharp Online infographic

KXLY-TV, serving the Spokane, Washington, and Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, region built a segment around NLP’s infographic Seven Steps for Staying Sharp Online. The Dec. 14 segment, Is this true? Here are some tips to fight off misinformation you see online, featured the full graphic and described its contents. “The tips include not letting feelings getting in the way of finding the real information. It also suggests not confusing memes with actual news. The checklist also says “remember that credible information doesn’t ask you to trust it – it shows why you should by clearly attributing the facts it provides to reliable sources.”

 

Washington Post quotes Miller on press freedoms

The Washington Post’s Margaret Sullivan quotes Alan Miller’s column on how the U.S. can restore its global standing as a leader in press freedoms. “Bring back the daily press briefings. Make Biden available through periodic news conferences and interviews with a wide range of outlets. Tell the truth,” Miller is quoted in Sullivan’s Dec. 6 column Trump is leaving press freedom in tatters. Biden can take these bold steps to repair the damage.

Salter calls for better civics education

“There is a solution, and it’s a matter of restoring something we chose to abandon not very long ago: comprehensive, robust civics education,” NLP’s President and Chief Operations Officer Charles Salter says of the public’s lack of understanding and distrust in American institutions.

His commentary piece, We Americans Risk Losing the Ability to Govern Ourselves. Better Civics Education Can Help, appeared in EdWeek on Nov. 25.

Causepods show interviews NLP’s Worland

NLP’s Darragh Worland was a guest on a segment of the show Causepods. “I think it’s a fundamental life skill,” Worland says of news literacy. “It’s essential that all schools be teaching some form of news literacy.” The segment Misinformation with Darragh Worland of the Is That a Fact Podcast  aired on Nov. 23.

Commentary: Misinformation generation gap closes

The misinformation generation gap closes, NLP’s Carol McCarthy writes in a Nov. 20 commentary for the Florida Sun-Sentinel.  “While we may never know which generation is best at recognizing fact from fiction, it’s pretty clear to me that no age group is immune to misinformation, she writes.

“Adopted early in life, the skills and mindset of becoming more news-literate will last a lifetime. But the learning must extend beyond the classroom, too,” McCarthy writes in the piece Neither youth nor maturity makes you immune to misinformation.

 

Panel addresses: Should schools require news literacy?

Should schools require news literacy? NLP’s Peter Adams joined Jaclyn Siegel, New York State chapter leader for Media Literacy Now, and Mike Johansson, principal lecturer in the School of Communication at the Rochester Institute of Technology, to discuss that question in a pubic radio segment Should news and media literacy be required courses in schools?

The program aired Nov. 9 on Connections, a program on WXXI in Rochester, New York.

Educator, board member writes of urgent need for news literacy education

“We cannot afford to delay in providing young people with the ability and confidence to navigate our complex information landscape,” says California educator and NLP board member in the Nov. 7 op-ed for EdSurge, The U.S. Election Underscores the Need for Teaching News Literacy in Our Schools.

“News literacy … is a fundamental life skill, as essential to success in the classroom and in life as reading or math,” Ramos says.

KGTV in San Diego talks conspiracy theories with NLP’s Silva

NLP’s John Silva was interviewed by KGTV in San Diego  on Nov. 5 for the segment Election rumors permeating social networks underscores need for media literacy. “We don’t like this idea of being uncomfortable that there’s some big thing that we’re not aware of. In the discomfort and the anxiety of not knowing, we might accept [the false information],” he says in order to explain the appeal of conspiracy theories and viral rumors about the 2020 election.

Adams quoted in two high-profile outlets day before 2020 election

On Nov. 2, the day before the historic 2020 election, NLP’s Peter Adams is quoted in the MIT Technology Review piece How to talk to kids and teens about misinformation and in the New York Times piece Stopping Online Vitriol at the Roots.