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Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Teaching Teens Media Literacy 101

tiwie13

In this post election season there has been a lot of focus on how fake and biased media influenced the election. It’s staggering to realize how much of an influence it has had. So yesterday I felt compelled to tweet to my teen (and adult followers) some tips for helping to examine the news and media we consume. The need for media literacy became even more evident for me yesterday when an article headline stated that Steve Bannon thinks that only homeowners should be allowed to vote. This is, of course, code for Steve Bannon thinks that only wealthy people who can afford to buy a home should vote. Decoded further, it really means Steven Bannon thinks only white people should vote, because white Americans still own a disproportionate amount of our country’s wealth. It’s a type of coded language – also known as a dog whistle (Dogwhistle politics is political messaging employing coded language that appears to mean one thing to the general population but has an additional, different or more specific resonance for a targeted subgroup.) – that can be easy to miss if you aren’t paying attention. Another example of this is the term “alt-right”, which is just a rebranding of white nationalism AKA racism. (See: AP Deems Term ‘Alt-Right’ A ‘Public-Relations Device’ That Enables Racism). Teaching teens how to really look at the media they consume has always been an important part of librarianship, but it is now taking on a new urgency. For an example of the influence on dog-whistles and the current rise of hate crimes, look no further than the current report by the Southern Poverty Law Center which reports a tremendous spike in post-election hate crimes.

Media Literacy 101




  1. A tweet string on media literacy.

    1) always review the source. Who? What? Why? Where? How?
    2) examine media bias
    3) examine personal bias



  2. 4) read entire piece
    5) after reading, write a real headline that summarizes article for self
    6) pay attention to what is AND isn't said


  3. 7) check for code words and euphemisms. Reread with real words in their place
    8) cross check with other reputable sources
    9) save for future


  4. 10) when talking w/others, be able to cite possibly multiple, reputable sources
    11) examine financial contributions of sources


  5. 12) to preserve freedom of press, pay for your news. Investigative journalists need to make a living. And we need them.


  6. 13) Differentiate between verifiable facts and stated opinions.
    14) Ask follow up questions! How? Why?


  7. 15) Put everything in context. Historical. Regional. Context matters.

 See Also:

Fake News and the Internet Shell Game – The New York Times

We Tracked Down A Fake-News Creator In The Suburbs

Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election

Some Fake News Publishers Just Happen to Be Donald Trump’s

How to Spot Fake News – FactCheck.org

From Hate Speech To Fake News: The Facebook Content Crisis

How To Recognize A Fake News Story | The Huffington Post

A Scientific Approach To Distinguishing Real From Fake News

How Fake News Goes Viral: A Case Study

Should I Share This News on Social Media

This post was edited 11/29 to add an introductory paragraph and resources. What tips and resources would you add? Please share in the comment.

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