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Media Literacy

Perspective: digital media literacy | North public radio: WNIJ and WNIU


One consequence of the recent elections is a re-examination of the digital media.

Educating users to be critical consumers of information has always been an important instrument of democratic self-administration. Media literacy education works. We did it with other innovations like print and television. And we can and must do that with social media.

But literacy in a new medium can take several generations to succeed. We don’t have that time. So here’s a quick introduction in three easy steps:

First of all, know the platform. Whether you are using Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, or something else; know the rules, regulations and business practices of the application. This information can be found in the Terms of Use – a document none of us ever actually reads.

Second, you should know your source as the content posted on these platforms is user-created. Track the threads, shares, and profiles to identify and evaluate the source of the information. The good thing about social media is also the bad: anyone can post anything. So you know who is posting what and why.

Finally check, check, check. In the age of print, we relied on gatekeepers, like editors, checking the content of a story for validity before it was published. Now this job happens after the publication and is given to the users. Everything should be checked and independently verified before sharing, especially if it sounds either too good or too bad to be true.

I am David Gunkel and this is my perspective.


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