The material comes from the project’s newsletter, the Sift, which takes the most recent viral rumors, conspiracy theories, hoaxes and journalistic ethics issues and turns them into timely lessons with discussion prompts and links. The Sift, which is published weekly during the school year, has more than 10,000 subscribers, most of them educators.
The News Literacy Project also offers a program called Checkology, a browser-based platform designed for students in grades six through 12 that helps prepare the next generation to easily identify misinformation. Checkology is available free to educators, students, school districts and parents. Since 2016, more than 29,000 educators and parents in all 50 states and Washington have registered to use the platform. Since August, more than 1,000 educators and parents and more than 34,000 students have actively used Checkology.
You can learn more about the News Literacy Project and all of the educational resources it provides in this piece, but here is a rundown:
Founded more than a decade ago by Alan Miller, a Pulitzer Prize-winning former reporter at the Los Angeles Times, the News Literacy Project is the leading provider of news literacy education.
It creates digital curriculums and other resources and works with educators and journalists to teach middle school and high school students how to recognize news and information to trust — and it provides them with the tools they need to be informed and engaged participants in a democracy. It uses the standards of high-quality journalism as an aspirational yardstick against which to measure all news and information. Just as important, it provides the next generation with an appreciation of the First Amendment and the role of a free press.
Here’s material from the Jan. 11 edition:
When the mob of extremists, conspiracists and zealous supporters of President Trump violently raided the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, many of its members behaved in person how they have generally acted online. They propagated disinformation, spewed hate, stoked violence, disregarded the law, and overwhelmed authorities vastly outnumbered and ill-equipped to handle the onslaught. The consequences were deadly.
The crush of militia members, white nationalists, QAnon believers, “boomerwaffen” and other Americans represented an alternative information ecosystem come dangerously to life — a physical demonstration of the “vanishing line between mainstream and fringe” political beliefs. The insurrection was a product of a circular and self-sustaining echo chamber of false political claims, propaganda from openly partisan media outlets, conspiracy theories and disinformation that has been escalating — largely unchecked — for years.
Here are three points of focus for educators seeking to guide students through the news literacy implications of this shocking event.
- The collapse of the physical and virtual. The crowds who came to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 5 and 6 to “save America” were misinformed, radicalized and organized online. According to Zignal Labs, a media intelligence company, “the term ‘Storm the Capitol’ was mentioned [online] 100,000 times in the 30 days preceding Jan. 6,” the New York Times reported. Once the “storm” arrived at the Capitol, however, the rioters never ceased being online. They chanted hashtags, live-streamed their invasion on sites like Dlive (where other users not only paid them but also used the chat to help them evade police), and they performed and posed for social media.
— Discuss: What do you think the online causes of the Capitol attack were? What effect will the real-life violence have online? How could images and footage of the failed insurrection be used in the future?
— Idea: Use one or more of the ideas in this Twitter thread by Peter Adams, NLP’s head of education, to address the press freedom implications of the Capitol siege with students.
- Deplatforming measures. In the wake of the riot, social media platforms scrambled to retroactively enforce their terms of service by flagging and deleting specific types of content and limiting or banning the accounts of users spreading dangerous disinformation about the election and attack on the Capitol. The morning after the failed insurrection, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced that the platform was banning Trump from Facebook and Instagram indefinitely. On Jan. 8, Twitter announced that it was permanently suspending Trump’s account, which had more than 88 million followers. Parler, an alternative social media platform with lax community standards favored by people on the far right, was delisted from the Apple and Google app stores over the weekend. It also had its cloud hosting revoked by Amazon on Jan. 10, knocking it offline until — and if — it can find a new hosting service.
— Idea: Use this summary of platform actions following the Capitol siege — compiled by First Draft, a disinformation research organization — to discuss the topic of deplatforming with students. Do they agree with these actions? Why or why not? What steps would they have taken if they were in charge of these companies?’
YES: The openly conservative Washington Times published a report falsely claiming that XRVision had “matched two Philadelphia antifa members to two men inside the Senate.”
YES: The Times removed the story from its website on Jan. 7 and replaced it with a new version with a correction.
YES: Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) cited the incorrect report in remarks he made on the House floor after the Capitol was secured and repeated the false claim that some of the rioters were “members of the violent terrorist group antifa.”
Note: antifa is an unofficial anti-fascist movement and not an established organization.
NO: Capitol Police officers did not simply let this pro-Trump mob through the barricades surrounding the Capitol building on Jan. 6.
YES: Marcus DiPaola, the freelance journalist who shot this video and posted it to TikTok as part of his coverage of the Capitol riots, told PolitiFact that the police “definitely didn’t just open the barriers.”
YES: Some video clips also seem to show police not resisting the rioters, and at least one police officer appeared to allow a rioter to take a selfie with him.