Americans feel they can best distinguish news from opinion in local TV news; worst, online news sites and social media

Only 43 percent of Americans find it easy to distinguish opinion from news on digital news sites or social media, according to a survey from the American Press Institute. But the job gets easier when they’re consuming media from publications they’re most familiar with. Earlier this year, API asked Americans about their relationship with the news media, polling both the public about journalists and journalists about the public. (A separate study from Pew Research earlier this month found that 57 percent of American social media users expect the news on social media to be inaccurate.) Building off that work, API pulled out these stats about sorting opinion and news on different platforms:

This program made people better at identifying disinformation. (They still weren’t great at knowing what to trust.)

The success of media literacy programs is often described in terms of number of people reached, rather than by how (or if) they actually change people’s behavior in the long run. It’s not even clear what metrics to judge them on. But a new report from a media literacy course run in Ukraine suggests that the program actually was able to change participants’ behavior — even 18 months after they’d completed the course. The program was called Learn to Discern (L2D); it was run by global development and education nonprofit IREX with funding from the Canadian government and support from local organizations Academy of Ukrainian Press and StopFake (which Nieman Lab covered four years ago). First, the raw numbers: IREX says that its L2D seminars “reached more than 15,000 people of all ages and professional backgrounds” through a “train the trainers” model, in which 361 community leaders were trained
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Beyond just “literate,” how can you help news consumers be “news fluent”?

News literacy is so last decade: Journalists and audiences need to focus on news fluency now, suggests a report from the American Press Institute. “Literacy suggests someone is either capable or incapable of performing a task — in the same way one either can or cannot read. That doesn’t aptly describe what is going on with news. People consume news constantly, even at an early age. The issue is whether they recognize the characteristics of good reporting — such as thoroughness, good sourcing, strong evidence, the difference between hearsay and eyewitness evidence and more,” argue API exectuvie director Tom Rosentiel and accountability journalism program director Jane Elizabeth. “The metaphor of fluency, by contrast, describes the process of mastering something you can already do. Fluency also is something you can accomplish on your own, through conscious effort.” That effort, they say, is the responsibility of both news producers and consumers, Continue reading "Beyond just “literate,” how can you help news consumers be “news fluent”?"

Teaching Media Literacy With A Cape After SXSWEdu

Before I attended danah boyd’s campfire discussion at SXSWEdu on Media Literacy, I had been promoting it heavily with the hashtags #savetheworld #teachmedialit. In her talk, however, boyd strongly questioned the notion of media literacy’s ability to save the world.  Slowly tucking my cape back into my bag, I walked out of the keynote unsettled, which was probably her point. Some of the old school methods, as boyd pointed out at SXSWEdu, may not be effective against the new “weaponized digital media,” trolls, bots and online political forces with millions of dollars behind them. She has concerns about the good will and the truth that many bloggers are sending out over the internet.  She sees neo-nazis and other extremists filling the new digital media with mirrors of truth, hate and evil. In a post-modern way, I believe she also argues whether or not the truth can be found
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Macro-Resistance: How to Detox a Polluted Public Sphere

This is the second in a two-part series. You can read the first part here. Despite the creative media unleashed by our digital revolution, there is increasing evidence that our public sphere is polluted, corrupted. Corrupted in its capacity to discern truth from falsity, sincere reporters from manipulative voices, experts from ideologues, facts from uninformed assertion. It is nasty out there. The internet we once praised for its “democratization” of media and for making possible “we the public” is now a raucous, often dangerous global sphere of trolls, hackers, racists, fanatics, conspiracy theorists, and robotic manipulation of social media by governments. All of this is happening in an apparent era of science, of easily accessible information, of massive collections of data, and hundreds of universities and centers for factual, reasonable discourse. We inhabit a virtual world of wall-to-wall opinion; a democracy seemingly without facts. Firm belief in facts coexists with
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The latest class of Knight Prototype projects will tackle trust, media literacy, and yes, fake news

The Knight Foundation is throwing some real money at the fake news problem and its related issues. The Knight Prototype Fund, which shells out up to $50,000 to developers of early-stage media projects, announced a round of 20 new initiatives, all of which are addressing in some way ongoing concerns about trust in news (including the fake kind), media literacy, and factchecking. Frederic Filloux, cofounder of Monday Note, will lead the News Quality Score Project, a tool that will find and quantify the signals of quality news. Filloux said back in April that the project had completed a collection of 640,000 articles from 500 of the largest American websites. In a similar vein,, aimed at advertisers, will try to combat fake news’ financial incentives by developing an updating list of fake news sites. Hoaxy Bot-o-Meter is another notable project. Its creators at Indiana University Bloomington’s Center for Complex Continue reading "The latest class of Knight Prototype projects will tackle trust, media literacy, and yes, fake news"

What Universities Can Do About Digital Literacy in the Age of Fake News

You would know the difference between a “real” news story and a story written for or by an advertiser, right? Especially when a story is labeled “advertisement” right there at the top of your screen. Even if that label was something murkier like “BrandVoice” and pushed down to the bottom of the story, most of us would recognize sponsored content as advertising, right? A few years ago, noting that $3.2 billion had been spent on native advertising in 2014, two University of Georgia researchers set out to take a closer look into what happens in our minds when we see native ads. Bart Wojdynski and Nate Evans defined native advertising as “any paid advertising that takes the specific form and appearance of editorial content from the publisher itself.” In a fairly straightforward experiment, Wojdynski and Evans started with a news story about advances in lithium ion auto batteries Continue reading "What Universities Can Do About Digital Literacy in the Age of Fake News"