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News Literacy: Teaching the Internet Generation to Make Reliable Information Choices

“In the Digital Age, the ultimate check against the spread of rumor, pernicious falsehood, disinformation, and unverified reports masquerading as fact, will never be just more and better-trained journalists and professional gatekeepers, these scholars argue. Instead, it will require a generation of astutely educated news consumers, as well as native producers and distributors, who will learn to be their own editors and identify for themselves fact- and evidence-based news and information. James Klurfeld and Howard Schneider survey the ways in which Stony Brook attempted to meet this pedagogical goal and found that the program did have positive outcomes. Stony Brook compared students who took the News Literacy course vs those who didn’t. The News Literacy students routinely consumed more news from more sources, rated keeping up with the news as more important, registered to vote in higher numbers, could deconstruct some video news stories more effectively, had a higher regard for the “watchdog function” of the press and had a more nuanced view, in general, of the news media. For example, at the outset of the semester only 17 percent of those taking the course felt the media treated both sides of a story fairly; by semester’s end the number had jumped to 52 percent, report the scholars.”

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