The state of Illinois will require high schools to teach media literacy starting in fall 2022.
Educators at the Illinois State University School of Communication will closely monitor the State Board of Education’s requirements for a media literacy program.
Steve Hunt, ISU School of Communication Executive Director, and ISU Convergent Media Director Nate Carpenter, helped produce an online resource that aims to promote civic reasoning online and fight fake news.
Carpenter said in an interview with Sound Ideas that there are two recent examples of disinformation: Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election and the coronavirus pandemic. Carpenter said media literacy education needs to understand how disinformation can spread on social media.
“There is consumption that is not controlled or consumption that can be controlled or manipulated in a way that people are just not ready to recognize or accept that they are part of a larger problem. “said Carpenter.
Hunt said he was concerned the new media literacy requirements would go far enough. He said high school students need to learn to check facts and research stories to determine their accuracy. Hunt said disinformation can have serious consequences.
“We are at a time when we face perhaps one of the greatest threats to our democracy. On January 6, we had an insurgency on Capitol Hill and a lot of that behavior was based on false information, disinformation, ”he said. “It’s a very dangerous time.
Hunt calls this a post-truth era where a lack of critical thinking makes the public more likely to buy false or misleading information.
“We are in an environment where the truth is based on what the individual wants to perceive and there (are) many reasons why they are motivated to maintain that,” explained Hunt. “Politicians know this and they know what buttons to press to make it easier. ”
Carpenter said the mainstream media has long been seen as having certain ideological biases, but he said most of the misinformation and media distortion has recently come from ideological right-wing sources.
“What we have seen is a break with the reality of the far right and how this ecosystem is an ecosystem separate from what we might consider mainstream. It’s particularly disturbing, ”Carpenter said.
Hunt cautioned against any media literacy program that reduces conversation to just following certain news sources rather than others.
“It assumes that if we took them out of their (information) bubbles and gave them the correct information, it would be fine and we know it’s wrong,” Hunt said.
Hunt said helping students and the public to think critically is key to dispelling misinformation.
Carpenter said most of the media have reporters who bother to report the facts, but students need to better understand what he calls “networks of influence” that can quickly spread and distort media coverage. , even when it comes from reliable sources.
“There has to be something deeper in terms of understanding these ecosystems and I think I understand the stories that got us to where we are now,” Carpenter said.
Hunt added that journalists too often perpetuate disinformation by using a two-way approach to reporting.
“The problem with that, from a persuasive and argumentative standpoint, is that you present multiple sides without then attacking destruction from the side that isn’t as legitimate, that isn’t so grounded in. the truth, which leaves the person who consumes it with the impression that all of those perspectives are equal and valid, ”Hunt said.
Hunt recently co-authored the book “Engaged Persuasion in a Post-Truth World” with co-author Kevin Meyer.
Regarding disclosure, WGLT is under the supervision of Hunt in his role as Executive Director of the ISU School of Communication.
Sound Ideas Thursday: An educator from Unit 5 explains what he wants to see in a media education program.