What is MediaWise?

MediaWise is a groundbreaking digital literacy project that aims to teach 1 million teenagers — half from underserved communities — how to sort fact from fiction online by 2020.

Have you ever shared something online that wound up being fake? You are not alone! It’s hard for everyone to discern fact from fiction online, even for teenagers who grew up with the internet. The good news is that there are actual skills you can learn to become more critical consumers of information online.

While teens are generally regarded as digitally savvy, research from our partners at Stanford History Education Group (SHEG) shows that the vast majority of teenagers have trouble navigating digital information — whether it’s viral hoaxes on Instagram, misinformation campaigns on Facebook, or sponsored content on news websites.

MediaWise is tackling these issues in three ways:

  • New curriculum that will be available in fall 2019
  • In-person events at schools nationwide
  • Fact-checking content and outreach via social media

Will you help us spread facts, not fakes? Support MediaWise today.

Learn from MediaWise

The primary way MediaWise will teach one million teens is through a curriculum designed by SHEG. The new curriculum, which is called Civic Online Reasoning, will be available for middle school and high school teachers across the country to download this fall — for free. Some lessons are available now on Stanford’s website.

While the full curriculum is being piloted and tested, the MediaWise team at Poynter is working with Local Media Association and National Association for Media Literacy Education to visit schools and host events to teach the fact-checking skills the curriculum is built on.

NBC News anchor Lester Holt joined MediaWise at one such event at Woodrow Wilson High School in Washington D.C. In his first appearance as MediaWise Ambassador, Holt taught hundreds of teens how to spot misinformation and disinformation online. He also featured the program on “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt.”

“Fact-checking and identifying trustworthy sources is something I’ve done every day for over four decades,” Holt said. “But in today’s noisy media environment, those skills are just as important for our readers and viewers as they are for those of us doing the reporting. MediaWise will help instill those values at a young age and I’m honored to play a small part in educating a new generation of thoughtful and discerning news consumers.”

Feb. 13, 2019: “NBC News” and “Dateline NBC” anchor Lester Holt and MediaWise hold a joint event at Washington D.C.’s Woodrow Wilson High School to teach students about digital literacy.

That event with Holt added to the momentum that began at the start of 2019 when MediaWise taught 5,000 students at three schools in Houston. More than 50 schools in 12+ states from West Virginia to Hawaii have already invited the MediaWise team to teach their students.

>>Contact mwtips@poynter.org to bring MediaWise to your school.

Follow MediaWise

The MediaWise project uses social media to teach and engage with teens across America. Follow us @MediaWise on Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook for original fact-checking content created by our team, our partners and our own teen fact-checking network.

Also check out the 10-part Navigating Digital Information series on the CrashCourse YouTube channel, which has 9M subscribers. The best-selling author of A Fault in Our Stars John Green hosts the series, which goes through MediaWise tips and tricks. It also gives a sneak peek into the curriculum being developed by MediaWise partner SHEG.

Stay tuned for more YouTube videos teaching MediaWise principles. In addition to John Green, we are working with Destin Sandlin, Mark Watson of Soldier Knows Best and other social media influencers to get our message out.

Work with MediaWise

Join the MediaWise teen fact-checking network! You’ll learn how to create original fact-checking videos for Instagram — check out examples here — and help us teach the MediaWise tips along the way.

If you’re in middle school or high school in the U.S. and interested, contact the team at mwtips@poynter.org.

MediaWise frame at workshop

Oct 25, 2018: The Poynter Institute hosted the first MediaWise workshop in St. Petersburg, Florida, teaching 50 students and parents about fact-checking skills like lateral reading.

Support MediaWise

Beyond donating to MediaWise, there are many ways you can help promote the project:

  • The MediaWise team presented at the 2018 Teen Vogue Summit and was featured at SXSW EDU. Invite MediaWise to present at your event.
  • Write about MediaWise! We were recently featured in USA Today.

Email us at mwtips@poynter.org to learn more.


The MediaWise project is part of the Google News Initiative and funded by Google.org. The Poynter-led project includes contributions from partners SHEG, Local Media Association (LMA) and the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE).