Story and photo by Diana Martinez Contributor
The Women’s and Gender Equity Center hosted a “huddle,” or open discussion, on media literacy on Nov. 30th with Dr. Jennifer Fleming, the Chair of the Journalism Department.
Media literacy is more important than ever because of the complicated situation we’re currently in as a result of “fake news.”
Dr. Fleming discussed the importance of thinking critically about the news we consume.
“Even the best of the best are guilty of embellishment,” said Dr. Fleming in regards to respected news outlets using clickbait to reach a desired revenue. The commercial incentive has, unfortunately, been a large influence in the news we receive, meaning that our news isn’t always unbiased, accountable or verified regardless of the news source.
When journalists don’t do their job — reporting unbiased, verified information correctly, they facilitate the spread of false information to the public. This leaves it up to the public to be able to figure out what fake news they’re consuming.
But what exactly is fake news? Huddle participants mentioned clickbait, misleading headlines, unverified sources and false information being reported as what they saw as fake news.
“Even the best of the best are guilty of embellishment.”
The definition seems to vary from person to person but one thing is for sure: There is real news out there, it’s just getting harder to find it. Regardless of your own political stance, it’s important to know how to find the truth. Dr. Fleming advised we should “look for verification, independence and accountability” and to “be wary of all anonymous sources anywhere.”
Dr. Fleming used a recent Washington Post story about a sting operation targeting mainstream news media and left-leaning groups as an example of good journalism. The journalists discovered their source had a hidden agenda because they verified information.
This is not the first time the Women’s Gender and Equity Center has hosted a huddle. Back in March they held their first huddle, inspired by the Women’s March. These huddles provide a space for open political discussion.