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Media literacy: Help young people think critically in the age of fake news


Press Pass TV

At Press Pass TV, a Boston youth organization, teens learn to analyze news media while they study photography, video production, and animation. In January Press Pass TV will change its name to Transformative Culture Project.

Judging the credibility of news has become a big topic in the last few months: so tell me many educators, Journalists and Other on the heels of a choice in which Fake news sites flourished, on Sagittarius threatens diners based on fake news and the The president-elect made unsubstantiated claims on Twitter.

“[Media literacy] is vital in this current environment, when there are so many people who absolutely disapprove of credible sources of information and believe everything they see on the Internet, ”said Erin McNeill, founder and president of the three-year nonprofit. Media literacy now.

“It’s more than urgent,” she said.

But a campaign promoting media literacy in schools in the United States still has a long way to go. Only Minnesota added the topic to the state’s Common Core Standards. Washington State in March last year commissioned state education officials to develop a plan to teach media literacy in all schools. Some other states integrate it according to Media Literacy Now.

However, most children do not receive media education in school, McNeill said. “Time outside of school (OST) plays a big role here,” she said.

Some OST organizations are already teaching children to analyze and create their own media. Resources and curricula are available to others.

What is media literacy?

Media literacy, according to Media Literacy Now, is the ability to think critically about media messages and to create news using media.

“You have to analyze and evaluate the news and also create your own news,” said McNeill.

However, young people do not have sufficient knowledge. In November, a report from Stanford University School of Education showed that middle school students have a hard time distinguishing ads from news articles, and high school and college students are easily fooled by false information.

Press Pass TV

At Press Pass TV, a Boston youth organization, teens learn to analyze news media while they study photography, video production, and animation. In January Press Pass TV will change its name to Transformative Culture Project.

Last year, reported a researcher from the University of Connecticut that middle school students have poor assessments of the credibility of online science information.

Children need to know how to create their own filters, said Cara Berg Powers, executive director of Press Pass TV, a Boston-based nonprofit that trains low-income youth in digital media and video production.

“There is nothing more important than people’s ability to see what is coming their way,” she said. Failure to teach children to do this is tantamount to saying that they “don’t deserve self-determination,” she said.

Forces said five key questions are important Analyze media appropriately. These questions were raised by the Center for media literacy, a nonprofit founded by a former high school English teacher who has grown into a media literacy advocate.

  1. Who created the media message?
  2. What creative techniques were used to get attention?
  3. How could different people experience this news?
  4. Which values ​​and viewpoints are represented or omitted by the message?
  5. What is the purpose of the message?

Forces said Press Pass TV offers after-school and summer programs in Boston and near Worcester and Holyoke.

Media literacy is a core part of the program, which serves about 150 children a year, said program manager Reggie Williams. Children learn photography, video, and basic animation.

The program also acts as a creative agency providing video and photo services to nonprofits, corporate clients, and small businesses. Youth producers work on these projects and acquire valuable skills in the process.

There are other youth organizations working in the media in a number of cities. Among them are Youth radio, located in Oakland, California; VOX youth communication in Atlanta; Free spirit media in Chicago; and Portland Community Media in Portland, Oregon.


Provision of curricula and programs

In addition to simple practical projects, OST organizations also offer young people media education.

The non-profit News literacy project, founded in 2008, works with teachers and journalists in school and after-school programs in New York City, Chicago, Houston and Washington, District of Columbia.

Peter Adams, senior vice president of education programs for the News Literacy Project, said the organization had served 25,000 students over the past eight years.

The after-school program lasts eight to ten weeks and includes introductory news lessons and a collaborative student project. Among other things, young people learn to differentiate verified information from “spin”, opinion and propaganda.

The organization plans to expand into Los Angeles, Adams said.

The News Literacy Project also offers a free online curriculum called known Checkology which is available for schools and OST programs at the national level. According to Adams, 700 teachers and 64,000 students have registered to use it.

Adams said news literacy is important because “the health of democracy depends on citizens’ ability to see credible information.”


What children learn

That Federal Association for Media Competence Education is an organization of educators and others who are committed to expanding media education.

According to NAMLE, media skills can help adolescents:

  • Develop critical thinking skills.
  • Understand how media messages shape our culture and society.
  • Identify targeted marketing strategies.
  • Realize what the media maker wants us to believe or do.
  • Name the persuasion techniques used.
  • Recognize bias, spin, misinformation, and lies.
  • Discover the parts of the story that aren’t told.
  • Evaluate media messages based on our own experiences, skills, beliefs and values.
  • Create and distribute our own media messages.
  • Advocate for a changed media system.

McNeill of Media Literacy Now said hands-on teaching is very attractive to children in after-school programs. Children enjoy the opportunity to use digital tools, such as creating YouTube videos and posting on social media, she said.

“It’s a great way to get kids involved in after-school programs,” she said.


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