Weaponizing Media Literacy to fight the Fake News myth

Sandy Hook didn’t happen. Those were crisis actors.

The moon landing actually took place on a Hollywood sound stage.

The earth is flat.

The myth of fake news isn’t new. It’s been around for as long as mankind has had the ability to lie for personal gain, or the inability to grasp the world around it. Fake News has only recently gathered steam because the current occupant of the White House lends it credibility, and does so through official channels. Even when confronted with these false narratives, the American people have been told that they are simply “alternate facts.”

As a veteran of local TV news, this is offensive to me on every level. I’ve spent nearly 30 years obsessed with facts and truth. I know the angst and hand-wringing that comes with knowing about a big story, but having to hold on to it until you have it completely buttoned up with sources and paperwork. I also know the anguish of getting it wrong; finding out after the fact that what you thought was true, wasn’t. Writing a correction or retraction sits with you for a while, and not in a good way. This is true for me, and for the hundreds of dedicated journalists I’ve worked with over the years.

Media literacy is the only way to combat the false narrative of fake news. It’s okay to watch Fox News, as long as you know it’s a network with an agenda. The same could be said for CNN. It’s okay to monitor Breitbart and The Hill. In fact, I encourage people to consume media from across the political spectrum. We can’t be a thoughtful citizenry if we isolate ourselves with people and information that feed our personal agenda. Productive discourse begins with knowing all sides of an issue.

We are in the middle of a war right now. It’s a war for the truth. To win, you not only need to have a plan of attack; you need to know your enemy’s. That’s media literacy.

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