Gone are the days of the “Most Trusted Man in America“, Walter Cronkite.
No longer do media consumers have someone who they trust as the voice of the news. Media outlets increasingly are subject to their own bias, due to parent companies’ agendas, of which, there are fewer and fewer (ahem, PostMedia).
The world of media is also becoming increasingly complex. Students are having to create new skill sets in order to combat the deluge of untrustworthy news. There is a greater push for students to recognize fake news when they see it: CNN, Globe and Mail, The Wall Street Journal, and NPR (and many more) report initiatives undertaken by schools and governments to educate children on what they consume via media.
There are numerous ways to to analyse a “news” article from various media and educational sources: BBC, IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions), How Stuff Works, Common Sense Media, and interestingly, AARP (an American business for those 50 and older).
In her blog, Shelby Mackey wrote about the importance of research in the B30 classroom. This is a key idea, because the entire B30 curriculum is based around analysing global issues in an in-depth manner. Students need to be familiar with how to research and how to evaluate.
For all of their experience researching (and by this point in their high school careers as IB diploma kids, they’ve done a lot), the term “peer reviewed” was foreign.
This was slightly frightening to me, as these students are expected to produce university-quality research papers quite regularly.
The easiest way I’ve found to examine fake news is to look at wildly imaginative examples of scientific claims:
We look at the website source (it seems legitimate: high-powered Hollywood actress, recognizable name brands, shiny website). It passes the test of credibility on first glance.
Next we look at the product more closely (ingredient include: Sonically tuned water, rosewater, grain alcohol, sea salt, therapeutic grade oils of: rosemary, juniper and lavender; a unique and complex blend of gem elixirs, including but not limited to: black tourmaline, lapis lazuli, ruby, labradorite, bloodstone, aqua aura, black onyx, garnet, pyrite and nuummite; reiki, sound waves, moonlight, love, reiki charged crystals)
Wait. What?! Sound waves? Moonlight?
And so we begin a discussion of looking underneath all of the shine to find the scary. Granted not everything is fake. But enough of it is.
Ryan Wood brought up a really good point about how scary the world has become in raising our own children. It has now become a matter of teaching our own children about “fake news”. My family used to have cable and watch news every night, like Ryan’s family, but we cut the cord. CTV, CBC. Global were all trusted beyond any doubt and now, I need to carefully screen what we view as news. My son is becoming more and more aware of what is happening in the world (case in point, we were driving home, and the CBC news came on. They were explaining the bombing in Somalia and my son worriedly asked about the 2783 people who were injured or killed). My job as a parent has changed from what I anticipated it would be, even four years ago.
But, for better or worse, that’s the way it is.