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Misinformation mitigation

By Vira Patil Dec. 14, 2023 Media literacy—the ability to analyze news presented in mass media and determine its accuracy and credibility—is entering California public schools after the passage of bill AB-787 on Sept. 3 and bill AB-873 on May 11. California’s media literacy bills are designed to help students develop skills in understanding and identifying misinformation online in response to increasing worry about false information. Beginning in 2024, all public schools grades K-12 will have media literacy as part of their curriculum in order to teach students to identify untrustworthy sources.

Assemblyman Marc Berman first introduced bill 873 when conducting his 2020 “Common Sense Media“ survey, in which he found that students do not know whether their stories are fake or credible on social media and the internet. Due to this revelation, AB 873 was passed in an effort to teach social media literacy in schools by 2025.

Both bills AB-873 and AB-787 have the same aim. However, AB-873 is directed to the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC), which adds this policy to schools’ curricula. AB-787 is directed towards the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI), which would provide accountability to ensure that this bill is enforced when integrating media literacy into public school curriculums.

“Media literacy is important because by learning how to find credible sources early in life such as in schools, students can apply these teachings to other aspects of their life and later their careers. Additionally, because the world is getting to be more digitized, media literacy has become crucial,” Junior Jiselle Guardino said.

According to Benedictine University, media literacy is a critical issue for four main reasons. Firstly, false information in non-credible media outlets utilize unethical biases in order to garner a following. Second, fake news can destroy credibility, both of the writer and the reader, therefore leading to a loss of respect and trust. Third, fake news in topics such as medical advice from sources like Mercola.com and NaturalNews.com have exaggerated claims with no proof, which can lead to uneducated, unhealthy decisions. Finally, real news can be beneficial in the long run, whether that be investing in companies or gaining factual information on political candidates.

Daniel Choi Art

Media literacy allows students to test websites and develop a more critical stance when decoding media messages, regardless of personal views regarding the information, and find credible, unbiased sources. As schools become more digitized, understanding the sources of information and teaching how to find credible websites, articles, videos and books has become increasingly imperative in schools.

“Learning about media literacy is important because it teaches the difference between credible and noncredible sources. In the freshman and junior classes, during the argumentative essay unit, we discuss factual evidence versus opinions from sources and how to identify proper evidence for argumentative essays,” Jennifer Touchton, English Department said.

The CRAAP test, which stands for currency, relevance, authority, accuracy and purpose, explains factors to consider before using a source and when determining whether sources are credible. Many teachers use assignments which teach the CRAAP test at the beginning of a school year in order to teach students the characteristics of a “safe” source.

Additionally, Governor Gavin Newsom approved Bill 873 on Oct. 13, requiring the state of California to add media literacy to the curriculum framework for English language arts, math, history and the sciences. These lessons will be woven throughout the curriculum to educate youth on how to identify misinformation when researching. With the use of media bias charts and fact checking—both skills the media literacy bill hopes to include in the curricula of students—schools can ensure critical thinking skills in the younger generation.

 

About the Contributors

Vira Patil staff writer Vira Patil is a junior at Leland high school, and this is her first year as a staff writer on The Charger Account. During her free time, she enjoys to binge TV shows, spend time with her family, and play the piano.

Daniel Choi artist Daniel Choi is a junior at Leland High School and an artist for The Charger Account. During his free time, he enjoys watching shows, taking walks, and sleeping.

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