(WXYZ) — We’re kicking off National News Literacy Week, and throughout the week we’ll be highlighting the importance of fact-based journalism in a healthy democracy.
News literacy is the ability to determine what is credible and what is not, and identify which stories to trust, share, and act on.
Misinformation on social media has become a growing trend in recent years.
Most of the “alternative facts” are being spread through Facebook, Twitter and TikTok.
Experts say young people who spend too much time on these platforms are especially vulnerable to being duped, but students at Oakland University are learning the importance of spotting fake news.
Student reporters at The Oakland Post work hard all week.
Tory Coker said, “We have a campus section that Joe is the editor of. It’s generally geared towards covering events and important campus news in that regard.”
These senior citizens are behind the weekly student-run newspaper, the Oakland Post.
All three have unique reasons that they are doing journalism.
“I’m applying to medical school in the fall, but one of the reasons I added a minor in journalism is because I was so frustrated by the misinformation and misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic,” Coker said. “It cost lives and it undermined our public health response in a really massive way.”
What unites them is their commitment to the pursuit of truth, which makes finding what they say more challenging as social media platforms cloud reality.
That’s why journalism professor Adina Schneeweis says she’s constantly teaching her students about media literacy.
“I think it’s really important to know who to trust,” Schneeweis said. “There’s so much information coming at us all the time that of course you have to decide, ‘Am I going to trust this Facebook post? This YouTube video? This person I’ve heard somewhere is telling me. ?'”
She says it is a skill that is important for everyone to learn.
“The most obvious concern is that people make life decisions or health decisions in the context of the pandemic based on information they believe is real or reliable,” she said.
Schneeweis says to first look at websites ending in .edu, .gov or .org to make sure you’re getting accurate information. Also, look for attribution, and always consider the source and what their personal agenda may be.
“Try hearing things you don’t normally hear, read things you don’t normally read, only to see the opposite,” she said.
In recent years, apps like TikTok have grown in popularity, especially among young people. This has brought with it yet another opportunity for the spread of misinformation.
In the second part of this series, we introduce you to a group working to bust fake news on TikTok, one post at a time.