MediaWise, a one-of-a-kind digital literacy initiative
We spend most of our lives tied to technology. We are inundated with information – good and bad – online. And let’s face it. Many of us aren’t sure how to tell what’s true, trustworthy and worth sharing.
Professional fact-checkers and platforms alone cannot solve the problem of rampant online misinformation. There are too many hoaxsters and too many opportunists. To fully combat the spread of misinformation online, we must teach a new generation to be fact-checkers.
Enter MediaWise, Poynter’s groundbreaking endeavor aimed at helping middle and high school students be smarter consumers of news and information online.
MediaWise is a partnership between Poynter, Google.org, the Stanford History Education Group, Local Media Association and others, MediaWise will feature a research-based curriculum to be taught in classrooms and a teen-led fact-checking initiative. YouTube creators like Ingrid Nilsen, the Green Brothers and Destin Sandlin from Smarter Every Day will help this project reach its goal of 1 million students, with at least 50 percent coming from underserved or low-income communities.
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MediaWise & Teachers
At the center of the MediaWise project is a body of research from the Stanford History Education Group (SHEG) that shows that despite being online much or all of the day, the vast majority of teenagers are unable to correctly evaluate the credibility of online news and information. (Adults didn’t do much better, according to Stanford’s research).
The good news? This research also identified a set of skills to critically evaluate information and reveal that a site is not what it purports to be, or that a search result that’s dubious and other web or social media content that’s best left unshared.
Stanford is developing a new curriculum for schools to teach information literacy and improve what researchers there call “civic online reasoning.” The National Association for Media Literacy Education is helping with outreach to teachers, librarians and others who teach these skills.
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MediaWise & Teenagers
Poynter, with the support of Google.org, will launch a fact-checking venture where teens work with Poynter journalists to sort out fact and fiction on the internet and social media. Poynter’s fact-checking franchise, which includes the International Fact-Checking Network and Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact, will collaborate on the project, applying key findings from Stanford’s research on how teens consume news.
The work of the teen fact-checkers to debunk misinformation will be presented on online and social media platforms, and it will be visual, including graphics and other creative means to reach teens wherever they consume news.
In other words, Snapchat hoaxes will be met with Snapchat fact-checks. Inaccurate Instagram posts will be corrected with Instagram fact-checks. Tall tales on Twitter will be taken to task with a tweet.
Teen fact-checkers will help identify potential fact-checks on social media platforms and work with Poynter fact-checkers to find and share the truth.
>>Interested in applying to be a teen fact-checker? We’re looking for teenage activists for the truth. Sign up to receive updates on the project.
All Eyes on MediaWise
To help raise awareness about this large-scale digital literacy project, Poynter is engaging with online influencers, such as:
- The Green Brothers
- Ingrid Nilsen
- ASAP Science
- Destin Sandlin, Smarter Every Day
- And more!
These YouTube creators will be MediaWise ambassadors, sharing these ideas, tools and a sense of urgency with their followers.
The work of Poynter and the Stanford History Education Group will be supported and amplified by the Local Media Association, which will engage across the United States through events, news stories, opinion columns, Newspaper in Education activities and an advertising campaign.
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