Along with civic education, news literacy has become a topic that many parents, educators, and legislators are seeing as a skill young people are sorely lacking.
This came into sharper focus recently when Stanford University’s History Education Group published Evaluating Information: The Cornerstone of Civic Online Reasoning which is a study that examines how well students, from middle school to college, are able to differentiate between fake and real news and information. And the results aren’t good: “Overall, young people’s ability to reason about the information on the internet can be summed up in one word: bleak.” This study was also widely reported as a widening crisis in education including articles in the Wall Street Journal, Mashable, and NPR.
Frank LoMonte, Executive Director of the Student Press Law Center , advised at Kent State’s Symposium to think about what legislators care about things like civics education and becoming literate about the news or being able to discuss issues of importance during the school day.
“You don’t want the message to be that we are going to war with school administrators,” he said.
The results from this study can easily be used to craft a message about the value of scholastic journalism programs in teaching students to evaluate news stories by having them practice how journalists chose information and sources. Creating a law that protects the rights of student journalists to gather and report news that is of interest to school communities will draw more students to journalism programs and help create environments where students see how “real news” can be used to inform rather than deceive.