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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

To spot 'fake news,' students need to know things

It's Media Literacy Monday in journalism class at Cupertino's Monta Vista High School, and Silicon Valley students are analyzing AI-generated photos and discussing online fakery, reports Hannah Poukish for the Bay Area News Group. Teacher Julia Satterthwaite created her own curriculum. It's a natural fit for journalism students.

A new state law requires teachers to embed media literacy in K-12 classes, but the state's Instructional Quality Commission hasn't updated curriculum frameworks yet, she writes. Many school districts are waiting for guidance on how to implement the law.

"Many students struggle to recognize the differences between fact and fiction online," writes Poukish.

In a 2019 Stanford University study, 96% of high schoolers surveyed judged a climate change website solely on its presentation and did not consider why its backers — the fossil fuel industry — could affect the site’s credibility. And 52% believed that a grainy video claiming to show ballot stuffing during the 2016 Democratic primaries was real evidence of voter fraud, even though an online search would have produced articles debunking the video.

California is the fourth state to require media literacy instruction, following Delaware, New Jersey and Texas, Poukish notes.

Although the bill passed with little opposition, parent activist Lance Christensen of the California Policy Center worries that teachers will let their biases color their media literacy lessons. “Most teachers aren’t media literate in the first place, so we’ve now emboldened people to be more aggressive about calling out what they think is true or false,” said Christensen, who ran a losing campaign for state superintendent.

I've seen media literacy lessons that tell students to research who put up the web site, double-check lurid allegations, question photos and so on. Who are "Citizens for Truth, Beauty and Virtue?"

But the real bullshit detector is general knowledge. Progressive educators leave students open to falling for "fake news" because they don't believe it's necessary to teach factual knowledge. Students can "look it up online," they says. Well, sure. But they might look it up and find self-serving blather, kooky nonsense or, at best, one simplified side of a complex story.

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Feb 21

I wasn't a history major in college, but when I heard two of them talking about "first sources", it hit deep. Ever since then, I try not to take anyone's word about something or someone else: "X says Y said Z"; instead, I follow the link trail down to the original source and see what Y actually said. At least 75% of the time, I disagree with X's interpretation.

That is a very valuable lesson and would be worth a couple classes in media interpretation: don't take anyone's word for something, do your research yourself. Click through the links to the original source; and if there isn't one, take it with a massive grain of salt, or find a second…

Feb 21
Replying to

Also, investigate the biases of articles both supporting and opposing the issues under discussion. Bias run both ways


Feb 21
...but the state's Instructional Quality Commission hasn't updated curriculum frameworks yet, she writes. Many school districts are waiting for guidance on how to implement the law.

And so, true to form, California teachers sit around with their thumbs inserted anally, waiting for some commissar to tell them what to do. Who's going to vet the the curriculum frameworks, hmm?


Steve Sherman
Steve Sherman
Feb 21

They'll need to set aside a dozen or so hours of instruction time and dedicate it to watching MSNBC to keep up with things. On top of the DEI reading they need to do

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