Adviser Update Adviser Update Winter 2018 | Page 10

“While everyone needs media literacy education, it is certainly easier to deliver this training to young people in schools since they are a captive audience, unlike adults,” she said. Kosin believes that the first step in getting students to identify between fact and fiction in the media is to get them in the habit of pausing to think about a story before believing or sharing it. TEACHING NEWS LITERACY: CLASSROOM RESOURCES There are many resources available online to help journalism teachers educate students about news literacy and many of them are free. THE NEWSEUM: Offers free learning tools on news literacy and First Amendment freedoms. A premium sign-up is free on the site, which gives you access to printable lesson plans, articles, worksheets and activities. The newly launched Media Literacy Booster Pack is also available for teachers. THE NEW YORK TIMES: The Times’ Learning Network offers lessons plans, activities and discussion questions aligned with state standards and recent articles from its site. Lessons are also broken down into themes and you can choose articles and lessons that focus on teens in the news. NEWSU: Offered through Poynter’s News University, this site gives educators access to more than 300 online courses and the ability to view lesson plans and a variety of syllabi dealing with news literacy and the media. Another organization that has been reaching out to classrooms around the country is News Literacy Project. Based in Washington, D.C., NLP tailors programs that push into classrooms by offering guest speakers, organizing visits to professional newsrooms and working with teachers. According to NLP, 88 percent of Americans say that the prevalence of “fake news” has them confused about even basic facts. This is why the organization thinks that it is important to start teaching news literacy at the middle school level. John Silva, director of education for NLP, said that the most significant outcome of news literacy education is that students become critical not cynical consumers of news and information. “When [students] are able to critically analyze a piece of information and are able to fact-check that information independently, then they will be better informed and active citizens,” said Silva. “This instills critical thinking and reasoning skills that apply across every subject area and discipline.” The newspaper industry could help itself by doing a better job identifying news and commentary, he said. “For young people, it’s not just about fact and fiction. There is also a great deal of opinion and commentary that is published along with news stories,” he said. “I’d like to see more news organizations take an active role in news literacy education and to help teachers ensure their students understand how news is produced.” The good news is that there are indications that society overall is getting better at sourcing credible information from the internet. A recent study by the Reuters Institute indicated that more and more millennials are willing to pay for their news and that subscriptions for The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Atlantic are on the rise. The Pew Research Center also confirmed that more and more people are continually getting their news from direct sources as well. The study found that social media and direct visits to news organizations’ websites are the most common pathways to online news. Ultimately it comes down to how we model ethical journalism in our own classrooms and how we can help our students become better consumers of the news. Our job continues to be to ensure students see all sides of an argument while they’re forming their own opinions, but Silva said this is getting harder because of how people increasingly limit their news intakes based on their own points of view. Recent studies, though, are showing that media literacy training increased young people’s ability to correctly identify evidence-based claims online even when they went against their political leanings, the Newseum’s Kosin said. “This offers a ray of hope for our increasingly polarized world,” she said.