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Professor discusses the importance of media literacy at international conference

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A faculty member from the Louisiana Tech College of Liberal Arts discussed the importance of media literacy in combating the fake news problem in society at an international conference this week.

Judith Roberts, department coordinator and assistant professor in the department of communication and media studies, presented “Edification and Awareness: Educating the public to better media literate citizen” at the Responsible Journalism and Communication Conference.

At this innovative academic conference, journalists, political scientists and government communications scholars discussed the role of news in conflict, fake news and post-truth environments and ways to assess the impact of journalist education and training.

Roberts said her topic is particularly timely considering Americans are close to another presidential election and research has shown that one in four Americans visited a fake news website in the months leading up to the last presidential election.

“One of the things our faculty and college try to convey to students from their freshman days to graduation is the importance of media literacy and understanding how the news can shape your perspective of the world,” said Roberts . “We can’t just be passive media consumers. We need to be active consumers, taking into account the validity and truthfulness of what is posted on news sites and social media. “

Roberts and her tech teacher Megan Smith both taught the Media Literacy course for tech students. Smith, who is also the coach of Tech’s debating team, echoed Roberts’ views.

“Media literacy has never been more important to students than it is because of the growth in media sources and information, but also because of the impact of the media on all parts of our interpersonal relationships with our national elections,” said Smith. “Responsible use of the media enables students well beyond their college days. Analyzing and evaluating media are lifelong skills. “

Brenda Heiman, director of the School of Communication, said the topic couldn’t be more topical.

“Given the impact social media has on every aspect of our lives, it is critical that education play a leadership role in helping students understand the dangers of ‘fake news’ to our decision-making processes, as well as our perspectives on moral character development. Said Heiman.

Roberts’ previous research has focused on politics and religion, as well as social media. She works as a social media consultant and teaches media law, social media and communication theory, among other things. That summer, she was also a judge for the Australian Social Media Marketing Awards.

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