Real News… Or Is It?!?!?!

Tim Hicks, Section Reporter

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A Stanford study has been able to conclude that students on the middle school, high school, and college level have trouble telling the difference between fake news and real news. This means that online information, such as stories labeled “sponsored content,” cannot be recognized as fake news by students in the age group of 12-20.

The study in question has been going on since January 2015, long before the current debate about fake news and the media’s influence on the presidential election took place. The study specifically had fifteen tests, five for each education level.

The results for the middle school tests did not turn out the best they could, in my opinion. But according to the Stanford study, “…of the 203 students surveyed, more than 80 percent believed a native ad, identified with the words ‘sponsored content,’ was a real news story.” Because of this study, I believe that students should be taught the difference between fake news and real news not only in our middle school, but also in every other school in our area including the high school and college levels

Perhaps the only problem with teaching students about this would be: where would this possibly fit in with our other subjects? There’s no “How to tell the difference between The Onion and Stanford” class in our current education system, but it still needs to be taught to our students. Classes that may first come to mind would be our Technology and Journalism classes, but only a small fraction of students take Technology, and even fewer are in Journalism.

Instead, I believe that students should start being taught the credulity of news in seventh grade Language Arts, since students start using computers as research tools then. Afterwards, those skills should be refined in eighth grade and all the way into high school. I think that determining the credulity of news should be taught to the point that college professors can assign an essay and say “Remember what you learned in high school about fake news,” and our future students will know what to do.

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Real News… Or Is It?!?!?!