Fake Versus Factual News
“Fake news” is now part of our popular lexicon—but how can we tell the difference between fake and factual?
News can appear credible as likes, comments, shares and views increase. But, with the rise of bots programmed by software experts and click farms with low-wage workers hired to increase likes and followers, it’s easy to purchase the appearance of engagement and fake credibility.
To help the public navigate a media landscape littered with fake news, staff from Kent State University’s public radio station, WKSU, developed Media Literacy Workshop: Navigating the News.
The discussion-based workshop provides five questions to ask when consuming content:
- Who created this message? Someone with a motive made this message. What is the motive? Is the message trying to get me to buy something? Have an opinion? Take action?
- What creative techniques are used to attract my attention? How do the words, design, music—all the components—in the message make me feel?
- How might people different from me understand this message? How would this message make people feel who hold viewpoints and beliefs opposite of mine?
- What values, lifestyles and points of view are represented in or omitted from this message? All media carry subtle messages about who or what is important. Are there ideas or perspectives left out from this message?
- Why is this message being sent? Who’s in charge of this message and who profits from it? What is being sold or told in this message?
With these five questions, individuals can start to think critically about the content they consume on a daily basis.
The workshop is part of WKSU’s 70th anniversary community outreach. It was presented on March 5 at the Wayne County Public Library’s main library in Wooster, Ohio, just before public events were canceled due to COVID-19. —Lindsay Kuntzman Hilewick, BA ’06, MA ’09
WKSU turns 70 on Oct 2, 2020; for updates on events planned for the celebration see WKSU.org.