California moves closer to requiring students to recognize fake news
April 20, 2017
• Media literacy bill moves forward in state Senate
• “Many lack the tools to identify fake or misleading news and information”
Following a presidential campaign where fake news might have helped sway the outcome, the California Legislature is a step closer to adding “media literacy” to the courses public school students will be taught.
Media literacy is the ability to analyze and evaluate information consumed from various media sources such as websites, social networking sites, television, print and radio. A bill by state Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, to add media literacy to school curriculums passed a key vote in the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday.
Under Mr. Dodd’s bill, the California Instructional Quality Commission will develop the framework to include media literacy into school curriculums. The legislation, Senate Bill 135, will also advance media literacy training opportunities for teachers in California.
A rise in fake news was widely noted during the most recent Presidential election, where hoax websites deceived visitors with deceptive headlines and false facts. The Russian government is suspected of being behind at least some of the fake news stories in an effort to help Donald Trump.
“Developing a comprehensive media literacy curriculum is critical to combating fake news,” says Mr. Dodd. “While information has become more accessible than ever, many lack the tools to identify fake or misleading news and information. By giving students the proper tools to analyze the media they consume, we can empower them to make informed decisions.”
While it is increasingly difficult for the public to note the difference between a reputable news publication and websites that publish false or misleading claims, the practice of advertisements masquerading as news has also seen an increase in recent years.
Mr. Dodd points to a recent Stanford University study that found 82 percent of middle school students struggled to distinguish advertisements from news stories.
"There has never been a more important time to address the issue of media literacy in schools,” says Michelle Ciulla Lipkin, executive director of the National Association for Media Literacy Education. “Our students are growing up in the midst of a complicated and diverse media landscape which they need to understand in order to fully engage and participate in today’s world.”