What is Media and Information Literacy?
Ellen Rodgers, Community Learning Network
In today's digital age, we have an overwhelming amount of media and information available at our fingertips. While this unlimited access to varying opinions and data helps the public stay informed and connected, it can be difficult to determine which pieces of media are trustworthy and legitimately sourced.
In 2022, the Pew Research Center released a study reporting that over half of U.S. adults receive their news through social media, and a third use Facebook specifically to read news. While there are valid news sources online, it is important to practice media and information literacy and ensure that the information you are engaging with is legitimate.
Media and information literacy is the ability to analyze, evaluate, and produce media and information critically. It involves a thorough understanding of various media platforms and ways of communicating, and the implications that inaccurate media and information can have. It's important to analyze where information shared online is originating from, and determine how reliable the source is before potentially spreading misinformation further. Here are some tips and tricks for improving your media and information literacy:
1. Pause. Take a moment to investigate what you're reading before hitting "share." Misinformation is easily spread when we let our emotions get in the way of analyzing digital media and its intent.
2. Read beyond the headline. Headlines are written to grab reader's attention and generate clicks. This can mean that they are intentionally over-exaggerated, leading to many comments from readers who have not yet taken the time to read the full context of the post. When a headline captures your eye, spend some extra time reading the body of the content. You may notice that the content of the post does not match the headline, or it is taken greatly out of context. Ask yourself, "why was this written? " and "who is benefited or harmed by this information?"
3. Find the source. Check that the post cites a reputable source for its information. Does the source seem biased and based on opinion, or is it drawn from verifiable evidence?
4. Search for other sources. It's great practice to cross reference information you read from one source with another to determine which one(s) are reputable. Are all sources reporting the same information?
5. Be aware of confirmation bias. When fact-checking a source, pay attention to the language you use in your search to avoid confirmation bias. Confirmation bias is the tendency to seek information that confirms or supports one's belief. For example, let's say you are an avid coffee drinker and want to prove to your friends that coffee has numerous health benefits rather than negative effects. Googling "benefits of drinking coffee" will only display articles that are biased in your favour. Instead, google "how coffee affects health," as the results will more likely display articles from both sides of the argument.
Have you noticed misinformation or misleading content online before? Feel free to share your experience in the comments!
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