Students Need Lessons To Identify Fake News, Journalism Dean Says

By John Hildebrand

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Stony Brook University’s Journalism Dean Howard Schneider has called on the state Board of Regents to encourage instruction on how teachers and students can become more critical consumers of news reports.


Lessons in “news literacy”, the ability to distinguish fake news from the real thing, should be offered in classrooms throughout New York as a matter of public urgency, the founder of Stony Brook University’s School of Journalism has told the state’s education policymaking body.

Journalism Dean Howard Schneider called on the state Board of Regents to act with dispatch in encouraging teachers and students alike to become more critical consumers of news reports.

Fake stories, he noted, are increasingly transmitted electronically, for example, via tweets, blogs, podcasts and postings on social media.

The alternative could be successive generations of young people unable to differentiate between accurate news and the phony variety popping up on their cellphones and laptops, the veteran educator and former journalist suggested.

“What do we need to do?” Schneider asked as he paced the Regents’ ornate conference room, located on the main floor of the State Education Department Building. “We need, in my view, to work together to create, in essence, a new literacy for the 21st century. We need to do something bold and transformative, and we need to get it into all of our schools.”

The Regents met with Schneider for 40 minutes during one of their monthly conferences.

Stony Brook’s School of Journalism already has gone a long way in showing students how to approach the news analytically and how to discern the reliability of news sources.

Since 2007, the school’s Center for News Literacy has offered courses taken by more than 10,000 undergraduates on the Stony Brook campus alone. In addition, sponsors said, the curriculum is used by 22 other universities and colleges in the United States, as well as those in 10 other countries.

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