EDITORS INTRODUCTION — This workshop is one of six that emerged from the 2019 Salzburg Academy on Media & Global Change. An international group of students was tasked, over the course of three weeks engaging in seminars, workshops and other learning experiences, to devise an interactive learning experience for their peers that responds to the crisis of distrust. Please read the project overview to learn more, and see the people behind this work.
Every morning, you wake up to the sound of notifications buzzing on your phone. You pick it up, scrolling through Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook (or perhaps all three) before rolling over and finally deciding to get out of bed. Throughout the day, you search Google for recipes or definitions to words you don’t know, directions to a restaurant, or anything else you could imagine. Does this sound familiar?
In 1980, Ted Turner launched CNN, the first 24-hour cable news network ever in the United States. Since then, with the development of the internet and smartphone technology, the age of news media essentially transformed overnight, all over the world. What once you had to look up in an Encyclopedia or make a trip to the public library for, Google can now tell you instantly. Before, you’d have to wait for the daily newspaper to be published to keep up to date on current news, or, less reliably, rely on word of mouth. Now, information and news are available 24/7, 365 days a year, any time, anywhere. But while this change in technological availability does have its perks, we have now been led down a path plagued by what is described as an “information explosion.” The unrestricted nature of the internet has resulted in this mass output of information where there is a lot of information published that is not necessarily monitored for accuracy, objectivity or accountability, even when sites pass as news organizations. There are not any laws for this. There is not a set of rules regulating who can produce media, where it can be distributed or even whether it can spread completely fabricated information.
Accessibility of news media today has created an environment where media consumers are frustrated, overwhelmed and consistently inundated with information on every site they use, never sure what is true and what is “fake.” This frustration engenders a lack of varied engagement with different sources on an individual level merely due to the overwhelming quantity, causing consumers to resort to the same sources over and over, regardless of their perceived credibility. Sixty-eight percent of U.S. adults surveyed by Pew Research Center reported getting their news from social media and Europeans between ages 18 and 29 are far more likely to receive news from social media, even though they didn’t necessarily trust the information they were receiving. This illustrates a crucial fracturing of trust in news and journalism as a whole and the lack of motivation to analyze sources for accuracy.
In this three-hour workshop, we seek to highlight the importance of reconstructing belief in the media industry, and begin to build a system through which consumers can feel they are confident to critically consume news even in the information explosion. With the Media Literacy Toolkit, users will be able to spot fake news, check information authenticity and engage in spaces to spark change and education in and around the digital world.
To view the facilitator guide, click here.
For a corresponding powerpoint presentation, click here.
Sanchali Singh, Minnah Zaheer, Ayah Safi, Phillip Alvy, Farah Ismail, Karim Makouk, Isabella Miranda Pasquel, Liza Nikolova, Claudia Larios, Lizzie Heintz, Jun Cheng, and Lisa Liu.