How to improve media literacy in the age of disinformation
In the wake of the violence on Capitol Hill, fueled by misinformation circulating online about the presidential election results, AL.com asked media experts what they thought about improving media literacy in this busy political era. Here are some of the comments:
-Dennis Bailey, Montgomery lawyer and longtime media lawyer, said the best approach is for news consumers to analyze all aspects of an issue.
“I would recommend that you do not always listen to the news with which you agree and that it is important to hear the ones with which you do not agree subject to your ability to have the time to do so. “said Bailey. “But getting it from one source is probably not a good idea in today’s world.”
-Phillip Rawls, retired Auburn University political science professor and longtime Associated Press reporter, said websites need to better label opinion and analysis articles and make them different from news articles.
“The websites of new organizations often put a little ‘sponsored’ or ‘sponsored content’ label next to the ads, but to the average person, that material looks a lot like news stories,” Rawls said. “Doing a better job of branding news websites would help audiences distinguish between what is news, what is opinion, and what is advertising. Some news agencies let staff members write news articles and opinion pieces. It also creates confusion among the public and diminishes the value of a well-known signature. “
-Robbyn Taylor, lecturer in journalism and communication at the University of Troy, said there must be a “national understanding” about the difference between the types of media consumed by users.
She, like Rawls, said there was a need to differentiate the type of information consumed online. Taylor that “maybe it comes with a disclaimer” at the start of a newscast or on a website differentiates opinion from fact-based reporting.
She said the shift between harsh news content and opinionated programming on 24-hour cable TV news channels is confusing for viewers.
“Because these news shows are being broadcast one after another, there is a misunderstanding about the opinion and the news part,” Taylor said. “We see this on The Today Show where the hosts ruminate on the topics of the day, then talk about their families before sending it back to the news desk.”
She said the general public needs to make their own media literacy their own.
Taylor said, “We can no longer claim to be the victims of this. We know it happens. We need to be good media consumers.
-AJ Bauer, Assistant Professor in the Department of Journalism and Creative Media, University of Alabama an author of the book “News on the Right” said that a more solid and solid discussion of the facts is needed.
He said the Federal Communications Commission could take more of the initiative to tackle outright false information disseminated by broadcast platforms. He said, “We’ve had 70 to 80 years of a failed FCC. But nothing prevents a new administration from calling on vigorous regulators to do so. “
-Justin Blankenship, Assistant Professor of Journalism at Auburn University, said that “ideally some media literacy on large-scale education would help solve this problem.”
He said he had “realistic doubts asking people to do this hard work” to verify the source of the information they consume on a daily basis. He suggested making basic journalism or mass media education a “core credit” in college, or even introducing the class in high school.
“That we teach how journalism works and how you check sources and assess sources,” he said. “That you ask this person, ‘What’s his skin in the game? It’s about whether I should trust something that came from USA Today or one of those quirky sites. I hope teaching people how to do this would help.
-Victor Pickard, American researcher in media studies at the University of Pennsylvania and author of the 2019 book, “Democracy without journalism? Confronting the Misinformation Society ”, said that greater media literacy“ is still important ”, but places the blame on the public rather than on“ the enormous irresponsible power of the news media and corporations. irresponsible social media ”.
Pickard is an advocate for a better funded public media system. In his book, he suggests the potential of publicly funded newspapers.
“Ultimately, we’re going to need structural intervention and meaningful regulation,” Pickard said. “This should include a better funded public media system to provide a reliable alternative to profit-driven news and information. It could also include a return to the public interest obligations that we have already tried to apply to broadcasters. “
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