Combat disinformation with media literacy and non-profit news
Issue 41 • Week of October 23, 2022
John Adams warned us that "liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right … and a desire to know." Implicit in that statement is the importance of truth. He could scarce imagine the tools we now have at our disposal and the corresponding deception we now have to navigate just to be properly informed. The sad result is that only one in five Americans believes they agree with someone from another party on basic facts.
As we reflect this Media Literacy Week, we have to admit that our news sources have become considerably more biased by any measure within our lifetimes and we now have to contend with a flood of disinformation. Even though Americans say they already do not believe 2/3 of news on social media, we often cannot tell which 2/3, and are woefully unprepared for advances in mind-bending deepfake video.
Only five states have any media literacy education requirements, which means only 4 in 10 high school students are taught how to analyze stories for bias, credibility, or how they might affect people's beliefs or actions. Nearly 85% of Americans believe this initiative should spread to more states, but this will take years to benefit our broader population since adults who have already graduated will not have the chance to participate.
Why have we been so susceptible to bias or disinformation and what can we do to be more media savvy?
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