CARROLL: High Schools Should Add Media Literacy Course Add
Every week the Associated Press publishes “Not Real News: A Look at What Did Not Happen Last Week”. It is a collection of fake news, most of which was spread online. The stories typically include quotes out of context, Photoshop-edited images, and edited audio files.
These are the stories that appear on your news feed courtesy of friends and relatives who believe journalists are “enemies of the people.” It gives them the opportunity to share outlandish misinformation that reflects their extreme views.
One of the most recent forgeries is this: President Biden wants to “crash with special forces” and “collect every weapon in America” and then “distribute weapons to people vaccinated against COVID-19”.
Here’s another internet lie: “Airlines ban vaccinated passengers.”
There was also a video of Pope Francis speaking in Italian with fake English subtitles that made it appear that he was saying, “I have a secret agenda to deceive people and unite them under one world religion to them better to control. “
And a 1987 New York Post front cover was redesigned to show Dr. Anthony Fauci under the heading “THE MAN WHO SHOWS US AIDS GAVE” shows. (The actual story was about a different person and did not mention Fauci or include his photo.)
In all honesty, the most shocking part is that a lot of people believe this stuff.
These fake stories have been shared hundreds of thousands of times. The number of people who saw the fakes is likely far greater than those who read the AP’s weekly attempt to set the record right.
While propaganda is nothing new, the internet has taken fake news to a new level. These people are experts at distorting pictures and videos into believing that red is blue.
Once the fake toothpaste is out of the tube, there is no going back. Many people willingly spread this garbage out of willful ignorance. They make no effort to verify the facts. You are rightly concerned that a few seconds of research could reveal the truth. When confronted by someone correcting them, they are feigning innocence. “Oh, I didn’t know. I saw it on Facebook and assumed it was right. ”Right.
I first realized how dangerous these manipulators are when speaking to a college freshman journalism course in 2016. One student asked why my channel wasn’t reporting a sensational allegation about a presidential candidate he’d seen on ABC News. I asked him to show me on his computer. It was a bizarre story that obviously had no basis. But the website with the ABC logo almost looked like the real thing. On closer inspection, however, it wasn’t the American Broadcasting Company. It was the Associated Broadcast Cooperative or some nonsense. How is an 18 year old supposed to tell the difference?
Imagine if such a deception was widespread during World War II. What if propagandists had such dangerous tools during the Cold War? Our nation was divided enough in the 1960s by assassinations, protests, and riots. It is terrifying to imagine what America’s enemies could have done with the ability to convince half the nation to turn against our government.
I recently argued with people on Facebook who believe reporters are destroying our nation by covering both sides of today’s political arguments. “(The other side)” is obviously lying, “they said. “Why don’t reporters just call them out or ban them on the spot?”
As tempting as that may be to some, I don’t think this is the cure for a broken nation. Both sides need to be heard.
By continuing to flood us with misinformation with a hose, the fake news factories are causing damage that will take a long time to repair. We moved from “I can’t lie” to “alternate facts” and “What you see doesn’t happen”.
The truth is out there and it is presented daily by the vast majority of journalists. If a section of the public does not want to believe it, no one can force it.
I can only hope that one day my children and grandchildren can enjoy the America I once made. At that time, certified election results were treated as such. When we knew that the words that came out of our guides’ mouths were actually their own. We knew that the news that we saw in print, or that we saw and heard with our own eyes and ears, were unbiased and genuine.
I would suggest that high schools add a new class to their list of compulsory subjects. In addition to reading, writing, science and math, we need a course on “Media Literacy: Separating Facts from Fiction”. It seems too late for some adults, but maybe we can educate the kids before they fall victim to the fake news epidemic.
David Carroll is a Chattanooga TV newscaster and radio host. You can contact him at RadioTV2020@yahoo.com.