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Illinois Is the First State to Have High Schools Teach News Literacy (npr.org)
383 points by geox 3 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 438 comments



I've taken a news literacy class at Stony Brook about 10 years ago, when it was then a relatively new program. I think it's an incredibly valuable thing.

It was taught in more the general sense of how to apply critical thinking to judge news stories. To the people saying that this just instills propaganda about specific news sources: consider learning a little bit more about the class.

It teaches about how to tell journalism apart from other kinds of information, like entertainment and opinion; the hallmarks of good reporting, like transparency; discerning assertion from verification, and evidence from inference; the idea of seeking out multiple sources and how to reconcile them, etc. It's more a toolbox of how to inform oneself, regardless of any specific source.

It definitely included examples of bad reporting from all sorts of sources, because the message is that its ideas are applicable to any source of information.

Ideas: https://www.centerfornewsliteracy.org/what-is-news-literacy/

Class: https://www.centerfornewsliteracy.org/stony-brooks-center-fo...


> It teaches about how to tell journalism apart from other kinds of information, like entertainment and opinion; the hallmarks of good reporting, like transparency; discerning assertion from verification, and evidence from inference; the idea of seeking out multiple sources and how to reconcile them, etc. It's more a toolbox of how to inform oneself, regardless of any specific source.

Provided it can stick to that, I'm all for it. But the landscape has become a lot more partisan/ideological in the last 10 years, particularly at universities, so I understand why people are skeptical/concerned. One also wonders what's going on in journalism programs around the country that is allowing for so much unabashedly propagandist content to be pushed out under the guise of "journalism"?


> But the landscape has become a lot more partisan/ideological in the last 10 years, particularly at universities, so I understand why people are skeptical/concerned.

What if the propagandists are portraying it that way, in order to create that skepticism/concern. They do delegitimize one institution after another: Journalism, education, government, etc. - these are the big ones.

> so much unabashedly propagandist content to be pushed out under the guise of "journalism"?

If you are talking about opinion columns/segments, I agree it's there. But most straight news from major sources is impressively straight, IME.


Journalism is changing. And to pretend like it's not is adding fuel to the fire.

Younger journalists are less likely to see their job as being a neutral arbiter of truth and more likely to see themselves as part of the culture war.

I'm a liberal but just as the ACLU is not the same organization it was 20 years ago, neither is The Gray Lady.


> Younger journalists are less likely to see their job as being a neutral arbiter of truth and more likely to see themselves as part of the culture war.

That's a great way of phrasing it, because it speaks to the economic reality.

You don't get hired as an independent or investigative journalist anymore, at the start of your career.

You do get hired as a content magnet for eyeballs.

This has always been a tension, but it's been exacerbated by the destruction of traditional news funding models and substitution of Facebook and Google ad networks.

So quite literally, the job is fanning the flames of culture war, regardless of how you feel personally. Because that's where the money is. And that's what you're being paid to do.


and that's why nowadays I'm very happy to being coerced to pay 20 Euros/month for the German public broadcasting, which doesn't have the incentive to make money but rather to inform and raise questions. There have been quite a few articles in the Atlantic and The Guardian that basically said that these public broadcasters are helping to guide the public, so that these total culture wars are somewhat weakened in countries with strong public TV. However, I think this is only part of the equation, of equal importance is that voices are heard, meaning that democracy works. Where it doesn't work (well), something has to give and maybe that's why culture wars are stronger in those countries (e.g. USA). But that's just my hypothesis.


Our public broadcasting here in the U.S. is another casualty of the culture war, as it is accused of having a liberal bias.

Bias exists in media to be sure, but one "side" in this country is completely off the rails; assaults truth, trafficks in conspiracy theories, and has generally adopted the fomenting of distrust, fear, hate and anger as its MO in its efforts to accumulate power.

Any effort to counter their disinfo or merely state the truth results in accusations of bias and aggressive attacks.

At the end of the day, any remedy relies on some degree of good faith on the part of the actors and, thus, some adherence to a social contract.

Otherwise, everything (including things meant for the public good, like objective broadcasting) gets ground through the culture war machine. And that's where we are in the U.S.


> Our public broadcasting here in the U.S. is another casualty of the culture war, as it is accused of having a liberal bias.

I’m a liberal American, and our public broadcasting (NPR and PBS) absolutely do have a liberal bias. It’s not as extreme as some outlets, but it’s certainly left-of-center (relative to the US political spectrum).

> Bias exists in media to be sure, but one "side" in this country is completely off the rails; assaults truth, trafficks in conspiracy theories, and has generally adopted the fomenting of distrust, fear, hate and anger as its MO in its efforts to accumulate power.

I agree with this as a statement of fact (though I frame it as an epistemological crisis brought on by the aggressive politicization of left-dominated institutions) but I really hate how my side uses it as an excuse to backslide. “We only have to be a little bit better than the other side, no need to move forward, blame everything on the Republicans no matter how tenuous.” This sort of race-to-the-bottom thinking is exactly what is wrong with American politics. The Republican side is broken and the Democrats will deflect any constructive criticism by pointing at the Republicans (and similarly progressives/liberals deflect to conservatives). We have to destroy the Republicans before we can consider improving/restoring ourselves.


> You don't get hired as an independent or investigative journalist anymore, at the start of your career.

> You do get hired as a content magnet for eyeballs

I get the idea and can imagine it, but I wonder what the reality is. Do you happen to be in journalism?


Journalists have never been "neutral arbiters of truth". That's just never been their role in society. The role of journalists is to collect and analyze information, and to disseminate it to the public. The "truth" of this information is determined at an individual level, no one is an "arbiter" in this process.

Journalism as a field maybe can help us arrive at some truths eventually, but it's an iterative process of correction and evolving understanding that never ends. However, individual journalists being arbiters of the truth is just not what part of their job description. How could it be? They cannot collect all the facts, and even if they could, they couldn't report them all to the public because there are too many. So by definition journalists have to decide which stories to pursue and which facts to report, and also how to report them. You can say they should do so in as unbiased a way as possible, and I agree, but the very nature of their job involves making biased decisions.

Also, not all journalists are reporters, just as not all programmers are webdevs. There are all kinds of journalists including editors, curatorial journalists, investigative journalists, opinion columnists, photojournalists etc. Yes straight facts are nice, but I also need some analysis to help me form a nuanced opinion. A fact can tell you something, but it won't lead you to all the implications of that thing.

I think photojournalism is a great example of what I'm talking about. On its face, a photograph is a straight fact. It's a picture of a thing that happened. But the framing, composition, and editing of a photograph essentially encodes a bias, and can equally obscure or reveal the truth. And that's a good thing IMO, I want to see through the photojournalist's perspective when I look at their work. But it's still just one perspective, so I realize it may not be the truth. Recognizing that bias exists, all people have it, and to some degree it always comes through in their work, is part of finding the truth.


The problem is that being an arbiter of truth and a presenter of truth were once not very different things. That is, simply presenting facts was the key to both. More specifically, once those facts were presented there was no need for arbitration.

So, if there were two sides in a story and, say, an investgative journalist unearthed and presented some fact that resolved the matter, then you might loosely say that journalist was an arbiter of truth on behalf of the public by simply presenting the fact. This was true even as little as a decade ago. And it might have even been considered pedantic to distinguish between journalist as presenter or arbiter.

But this is no longer the case. We are now in an age where people actively refute facts and deny reality itself. They sell the idea that the audience can choose what's true. So when the same journalist presents a fact, he is then accused of bias and becomes a part of the story. Thus, even simple truths have now become debatable to the point that merely presenting them can be cast as arbitration, as if these facts are subjective, thus there is still some matter to be decided.


Man, I wish I had the time, ability, and dedication to express my thoughts the way you just did. Thanks for doing my part


I think we're also increasingly seeing journalistic "power" consolidating on the coasts, in the bluest of blue districts (of course the most prestigious newspapers have always been coastal, but they've grown in prevalence while regional newspapers have fallen). This means that journalists for the largest publications are overwhelmingly far more left-wing than the rest of the country.


> I think we're also increasingly seeing journalistic "power" consolidating on the coasts

It's just the Northeast of the US: NYT, WSJ, Washington Post; and of course NY is the center of journalism (as with many things), and Washington and NY are the leading centers of power and therefore news. There are no equivalent west coast or southeast news sources.

However, don't forget that the largest 'publication', or publisher, is Murdoch: Fox, Wall Street Journal, etc. And that is right-wing and the most biased.

The influence of the coasts has been remarked on for a long time, but I think with the Internet it's actually a much improved situation: People easily get news from all over the country and the world. Everyone can read the BBC and much more (including Russian sources, without even knowing it! :) ), and they also get their news, for good or ill, from random people worldwide! :P

> journalists for the largest publications are overwhelmingly far more left-wing than the rest of the country

That assumes the personal political beliefs have a large effect on their jobs.


Have you read the WSJ lately? They’re a prestigious paper in a “blue” coastal city and they’re definitely not what I would call left wing.


Of course there are exceptions. It doesn't have to be literally 100% of outlets or journalists for it to be a problem.


Until a decade ago, journalists used to be in touch with the everyday average Joe, made sustainable salary but not too much, used to go on ground to sites to report what was going on, present the facts and let people make up their minds.

Now a days, it’s become a circle jerk on who can get the most twitter likes, they follow and retweet people of their same political side, get multi million salaries, have zero idea of what the common peasant is going through, journalists sit in their ivory tower and look down upon the peasants for not doing the same “sophisticated” things. Smugness and being condescending is a norm in journalist circles.

The best journalist of modern world is rotting in a prison cell in the UK being extradited to the US while the journalists carry water for politicians and how mean tweets is somehow a threat to their press freedoms of lies. They lie and flip flop on all issues and then when the facts come out, they act as if they were never wrong and corrections are printed ignored by everyone, damage is already done.

"The battle is won when the average American regards a corporate journalist exactly as they regard a tobacco executive." - Michael Malice


> The best journalist of modern world is rotting in a prison cell in the UK being extradited to the US

I won't dispute that someone like Assange is good to have around, but I'm not sure I would ever consider him the best journalist in the world. Part of being a good journalist is looking at the motivations of your sources and looking for and examining the information you're not getting as much as the information you are. To accept and release everything uncritically while also hiding sources reduces some of the useful information that people would use to slot that information into where they think it should go.

For example, if CNN were to start regurgitating information directly provided by Google's or Apple's PR departments without criticism and people found out, they would be justifiably upset with those organizations for failing to do their job. That's why it's important that information from those entities is attributed to them.

That's not to say I think confidential sources should be outed, just that Wikileaks ended up inadvertently scrubbing a lot of this information from the data presented. Presenting everything you have is a noble goal, but only really works as intended when it's what you've uncovered yourself, and not what someone else gives to you.


> get multi million salaries

Employment and salaries in journalism have dropped precipitously.


Which journalists are getting multimillion salaries, that seems extremely high to me


Salary comparisons:

https://thehill.com/homenews/media/347691-matt-lauer-and-and...

https://www.thestreet.com/lifestyle/highest-paid-news-anchor...

https://www.cheatsheet.com/entertainment/don-lemon-chris-cuo...

Also not exactly salary but the operating budgets of these corporations is massive.

https://archive.is/aDOav

> “The Atlantic needs to make $50 million in annual subscription revenue in order to break even, according to Thompson. Hitting that target has become more complicated since Trump left the White House and the pandemic let up. New subscribers are coming in at about a quarter of the rate they did last year (10,000 a month, on average), and the magazine faces challenges keeping some of its existing audience, which may have less of a need for The Atlantic’s journalism in a post-Trump, post-Covid world. Without Trump or the pandemic, the path to $50 million is significantly harder. Since February, the magazine has brought in about 10,000 subscribers a month — roughly analogous to its growth rate before the pandemic. Meanwhile, its retention rate for existing subscribers is about 75 to 80 percent, Thompson said. The net result, according to Thompson’s presentation, is not growth. It’s a static or slightly declining subscriber base.”


Maybe they are paid well at the very top, but I think journalist employment has dropped by half, or something like it. Remember very few journalists appear on CNN, write for the NYT, and even fewer have a name like Matt Lauer. Most are toiling away in trade journals, hyper-local websites, etc.

> the operating budgets of these corporations is massive.

> $50 million

$50 million is not a massive budget.


You don't have to "what if" it, people have already looked into it. In "The Coddling of the American Mind" they cite studies showing that universities are more left-leaning than they've ever been.


It's not surprising that universities are more left-leaning when the right has taken a stance against higher education and pushes anti-intellectualism for political gain.

The right likes to push this idea of universities as brainwashing factories, but there's very little of that going on given that its usually a struggle to get everyone to do the assigned reading, let alone try to brainwash people.


I flat out started dropping classes when I showed up and lecture was regurgitating the assigned reading.

I understand some students are lazy. But that's what an F is for. Even in undergrad, I valued my time and tuition dollars more than that.

As my father told a student who complained about a D in his course: "No, I didn't give you a D. You earned a D. I would have given you an F."

(Went to GT and had family who taught undergrad and grad, so might have different perspective on expectations)


Was this a problem more frequently in some departments than others? For that matter, were they real profs or TAs?


I dunno, I went to college. I've seen what it's like on the inside. Before I ever had political opinions it was pretty easy to see that people came out kind of brainless and all thinking the same things. It did not seem like an institution that really developed peoples' ability to think for themselves.


> Before I ever had political opinions it was pretty easy to see that people came out kind of brainless and all thinking the same things

Wow. I would say IME people were transformed from unengaged and ignorant to skilled critical thinkers. YMMV, and it it may depend on college and major, but they couldn't make it through liberal arts classes "brainless and all thinking the same things"; they'd fail.


What you get out of college is entirely up to you.


Sure. This is my observation of the student body.


The same is true of life but life doesn't require student loans.


> It's not surprising that universities are more left-leaning when the right has taken a stance against higher education and pushes anti-intellectualism for political gain.

People do realize that you don't have to choose between the regressive, anti-intellectual right and the regressive, anti-intellectual left, correct? Every time someone criticizes the left, some left-wing person argues that the right-wing is worse as though there isn't a moderate option. We have to choose between overt left-wing propaganda and overt right-wing propaganda--we can't have a media apparatus that at least pays lip service to objectivity and neutrality like we have had for the last few decades.


A little confused: We do or don't have to choose?

I agree with 'don't'; the idea that everything is politicized propaganda is a tool of the propagandists, like a liar saying 'everyone lies'.


We do not have to choose. The far-left/far-right dichotomy is a false dichotomy.


It would be much easier if you would just play the game like everyone else.


My point was that universities aren't some kind of left-wing propaganda factory, and that they see universities as hostile to right-wing opinions because they deride the product of a university education.

The right-wing opinion on universities and college graduates shifted around the same time that college graduates stopped being a strong GOP constituency.


There's two ways to lean left. Do some leftward leaning, or stand still while your reference point ("the right") leans away.

I personally think both of these have happened. I bristle at the inference that only one of them is taking place.


Except evidence has shown the the left has moved further left than the right has moved right. Both have moved but the left has moved further left in the US.


The need to quantify the movement and then assign blame to one side or the other based on 'movement score' misses the point I'm trying to make.

Many, including possibly you based on comments so far, are enchanted with the idea that one side is correct always and another side is wrong always.

I think this is the root of the problem - a meta problem where communication has broken down - because the go-to discussion technique is to quote a gish-like succession of cherry-picked examples so the conclusion of the conversation can be one side is always wrong and another side is always right.

Said another way, any conclusion that ascribes traits to "the left" or "the right" is exactly the sort of stuff I would hope a News Literacy course teaches you to discredit.


I ascribe traits as "left" or "right" based on opinions that I read and hear and the expressed side of the presenter. I don't now, nor have I ever belonged to one side or the other, my beliefs and opinions don't all line up on one side or the other. I think if anyone's actually do line up 100% then they are simply a fanatic and aren't thinking for themselves.

I think the problem is twofold, political parties are followed as if they are sports teams, and due to shrinking advertising revenues the news media dishes everything with a massive helping of hyperbole. For example, which US political party has a majority of its registered votes in support of gay marriage? The answer is both, but that doesn't get acknowledged in the media.


https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/06/26/opinion/sunda...

The article is a few years old, but by most measures, the Democratic party has been moving from the center-right toward the center-left, making it a relatively centrist party on the global stage, while the Republican party has remained firmly right-wing.

Your comment appears to be true, but what we're seeing may simply be America rebalancing herself for the first time since the lead-up to the Cold War.


Except evidence says the opposite. I would start here. The right is driving polarization.

https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/solutions-to-political-...


If we're talking about US politics, there's also the tendency of the right to cluster to a common narrative, whereas the left tends to be more tolerant of diverse narratives.

It would seem unsurprising that the end result of this, upon pulling the "center" of each party towards its own extreme, is essentially what we've seen -- ~50% of conservatives now believe in vaccine/pandemic conspiracy theories, vs liberals support some extremists at the local level, but also continue to support centrists like Biden at the national level.


> It would seem unsurprising that the end result of this, upon pulling the "center" of each party towards its own extreme, is essentially what we've seen -- ~50% of conservatives now believe in vaccine/pandemic conspiracy theories, vs liberals support some extremists at the local level

They wouldn't be pulled to extremes, they'd already be there. However, most research shows it's the right that's moved far. Look at Trumpism and compare that to prior conservative leaders, such as GW Bush, GHW Bush, Reagan, Ford .... Biden fits right in with Clinton and Obama.

> liberals support some extremists at the local level

What extremists? There are people farther left than Biden, but nobody trying to seize power from the people, letting a deadly pandemic spread for political reasons, backing arrest and brutality toward their political enemies, etc.

It's not balanced; if Amy punches Bob, it's not even-handed to blame both of them. If Amy burns down the house, it's not even-handed to say 'we're all crazy'.


> already be there

I see Trumpism as a cause, not a symptom.

The right was casting about for a leader after McCain and Romney (both centrists) lost to Obama. Trump (and allies) spoke loudest, and so pulled the "party truth" to the right for the Republican party.

Those Republicans who disagreed (of whom there were many) left politics or stopped speaking publicly about their disagreement. Or, over time, began to agree with the party line. Little tent politics.

> What extremists?

There's a well known group, who you can probably find by seeing who's on the Fox News homepage right now, who says things would would be considered far left.

And yet, Biden still calls these people crazy and says no to the more extreme policy proposals. Big tent politics.

My comment wasn't sharing blame. It was remarking on the fundamentally different organizations that the right and the left run, and who they allow to speak.


> My comment wasn't sharing blame. It was remarking on the fundamentally different organizations that the right and the left run, and who they allow to speak.

Fair enough, and I think that's a valuable point. However, I think the following is too:

>> What extremists?

> There's a well known group, who you can probably find by seeing who's on the Fox News homepage right now, who says things would would be considered far left.

> And yet, Biden still calls these people crazy and says no to the more extreme policy proposals. Big tent politics.

I don't think they are extremists, but if you can name some and their extreme policies, I'd go with it. Fox isn't a great source for deciding what is 'far left'.


I've got a bit of a thing about naming politicians below singular offices. It seems like part of the problem: name recognition wins elections and donations.

But to talk about policies, I would call defunding all police, complete student loan forgiveness, banning nuclear power and crude exports, and opposing market based carbon taxes extremist.


Evidence that isn't cited, just assumed as fact.

This post is an excellent example of information to not trust.


Which evidence?


> Except evidence has shown the the left has moved further left than the right has moved right.

That depends on all of the time frame (are you talking from the height of the mid-to-late-1990s “neoliberal consensus” where the DNC had shifted sharply right on economic issues compared to its previous positions, and when—due in part to the economic boom, broader in reach down the distributional ladder than subsequent expansions—racial issues were at a historically low salience, or some other time), and your political frame of reference (a fix set of policy stands defining degree of left/right-ness, or comparison to evolving global or developed-world standards), and what you are calling “the left” and “the right” that have moved (are you talking about the nth-percentile position in the electorate, are you talking the median position in each of the major parties [and, if so, are you looking at the party-in-the-electorate or the party-in-government], etc.)

And, as with most identity-charged issues, standard selection tends to be biased by the desired outcome (either directly and consciously, or because of worldview, e.g., a conservative will be biased toward the constant-policy rather than evolving-international-norms standard in measuring how far to the right or left things in the US are.)


I hear this a lot, but I graduated from a US university and I never knew how any of my professors stood on political matters (and I was a hardcore conservative in college). Right-wingers tend to be upset that social sciences and the humanities exist as research topics and degree programs, mostly because they're not happy with study results that run counter to their beliefs.


Which is also silly, because if they had conversations with those professors, they'd mostly find people with extremely nuanced, evidence-backed opinions.

It doesn't take too long in research-land to appreciate that ideologies are merely abstractions; they're tools to help us understand and discuss the real world.

The people with blind ideological faith are mostly uneducated (and perhaps undergrads), but the academics know how messy the world actually is and love to talk about the jagged, contradictory bits that don't line up with our current models of thought.


> In "The Coddling of the American Mind" they cite studies showing that universities are more left-leaning than they've ever been.

What do they mean by 'left-leaning'?: My professors might have been left-leaning, but I rarely knew their politics. The question is what the students are learning.

Also, conservatives have moved far rightward, which might make others relatively more leftish.

Also, reactionaries politicize lots of things, such as climate change. Education and research isn't affirmative action for conservatives - they need to prove their ideas. Climate change denial lacks the science behind it; it shouldn't be taught. That doesn't make climate change education biased toward liberals.

How does the book address those issues? Also, why do you trust that book (an honest question - I haven't heard of it)?


> Also, conservatives have moved far rightward, which might make others relatively more leftish.

I don't think this is true, I think the left-wing media has fixated increasingly on the far-right or exaggerating the extent to which individuals on the right are "far-right" which gives the impression that the right is drifting, but it's just the media changing how it represents the right. To be clear, the right is changing, but it's not perceptibly drifting to the right.

> Also, reactionaries politicize lots of things, such as climate change. Education and research isn't affirmative action for conservatives - they need to prove their ideas. Climate change denial lacks the science behind it; it shouldn't be taught. That doesn't make climate change education biased toward liberals.

2 things:

1. We don't even need to invoke conservative beliefs (certainly we don't need to cherry-pick the most overtly anti-science of conservative beliefs), we can look at moderate liberal beliefs, like colorblind approaches to combatting racism which are equally vilified and actively suppressed.

2. If we're talking about "ideas competing in some marketplace" then why are the left so frequently resorting to cancellation of intellectuals rather than debate? E.g., consider all of the petitions to have professors fired or to have papers deleted from journals. And I'm not talking about dumb kids circulating petitions to have their professors fired, but university faculty circulating petitions to have their colleagues fired for ideological (not factual) transgressions.

But every time we talk about this, left-wing folks pretend that the debate is whether or not to allow creationism or climate denial in the classroom. This seems transparently disingenuous to me.


> cherry-pick the most overtly anti-science of conservative beliefs

It would be convenient to denigrate those facts in some way, but they are there: Conservatives (generally) back climate change denial, which will cause generations of catastrophe.

> colorblind approaches to combatting racism which are equally vilified and actively suppressed

I don't agree they are "equally vilified" as the overt and covert racism of many on the right. I think "actively suppressed" lacks much basis or meaning except conservative repetition.

There is debate on left, that's true, and that's a good thing.

> why are the left so frequently resorting to cancellation of intellectuals rather than debate?

I don't agree that it's a phenomenon of the left; conservatives repeating that claim doesn't make it true (any more than climate change denial). Look at the conservative efforts to silence protestors (laws limiting protests, legalizing striking them with cars), professors (such as the right-wing donor at UNC, threats to and reductions of tenure at major universities), students (e.g., the football players at U of Texas), etc. Look at Colin Kaepernick, who the President of the United States attacked and who lost his career. Look at many executive branch employees, in Washington and the states, who were fired for telling the truth and following the law, and judges who were attacked for the same. Right-wing politicians and journalists who are destroyed for challenging Trump or reactionary dogma. Etc.


I would summarize the drift as far-right voices are getting louder (in terms of air time / reach) and centrist-right voices are getting quieter.

On the left, far-left voices are also getting louder, but I don't think the centrist-left voices have gotten quieter as much as their centrist-right counterparts.

The end result is that "the right" seems more right (in terms of speech) while "the left" seems... conflicted (in terms of speech).

Even if that's masking the underlying counts and beliefs.


If a journalistic institution's goal is to advocate for a side, they are motivated to report on when the other side is doing something radical and not when they're doing something sensible. The opposite for the side you're supporting.

I don't know if it's more or less charitable to suggest that they're primarily driven by revenue. The incentives are basically the same in that model, except the lean is audience-generated rather than centrally controlled. You'd expect more extreme positions on both sides, which is consistent with what you're saying.

A combination of both best fits the evidence, I think. You write controversial articles about both sides to get clicks, and write about the center of your side to get political support. So you get people on both sides with very skewed views (the far) of the other, and who think of their own side as idealogically diverse (the far) but grounded in reality (the center). If the media landscape is primarily liberal, you'd expect it to look the way you're describing it.

I really like that conclusion, because it's perfectly consistent with my experience. I don't really have evidence to support this, though, and I'm not sure how to go about getting any.


That's a great perspective, and seems both logically consistent and supported by current reality.

The "your centrist, but no other" political motivation (even if not economic) is a piece I missed.


Right-wing support for Trump and his far right policies dominates the GOP. Moderate or even conservative Republicans, who even say that the election was legitimate, are cast out and can't win primaries.


Go back and compare CNN reporting from today to the 1980s. And even the straight news is extremely partisan in story selection: compare the coverage of De Santis to Cuomo in 2020.[1] Plus, fully half the content on CNN (and 80% on MSNBC) is opinion.

I’m not a partisan. I spent most of my life as a registered Democrat and read the NYT every day as recently as 2012-2013. But wokeness has definitely taken over and the pretense of objectivity has been abandoned entirely.

[1] Other good examples: the “Asian hate crime” stuff. It was wall-to-wall “cultural studies” professors blaming “white supremacy” on CNN for weeks. As a card carrying asian it actually caused me to have a bit of an episode where I was questioning my own grip with reality. I literally reached out to Asians I know in NYC to be like “wait, you think this is mainly about homeless people and you want more police, right?” Like if you had just watched CNN coverage you wouldn’t even understand the forces (crime) that led to Eric Adams overwhelmingly winning the democratic nomination in NYC.


You had me until the "wokeness" stuff. I don't think we have to have the culture war to critique structural problems in cable news; these are attention-driven ad-sales businesses, and they're competing with each other to drive to extremes. As you point out, thankfully, cable news has less control over day-to-day politics than the impression you'd get from... cable news. On the ground, it's mostly Kiwanis Republicans and PTA Democrats.


Wokeness is relevant because of the aversion to doing things that are seen as compromising with systemic racism . Wokeness is uniquely willing to compromise traditional professional ethics in service of perceived higher morality. In journalism it manifests as abandoning the appearance of impartiality. E.g. the “do we call Trump racist” debate at the NYT.

As an aside, in the legal profession, it’s probably the most monumental shift in legal ethics in centuries. E.g. proposed rule 8.5 which thankfully was voted down: https://reason.com/volokh/2020/01/06/a-new-aba-model-rule-8-.... I’ve heard internal gossip from the ACLU and similar organizations where younger lawyers are rebelling against representing longstanding clients for social justice reasons. It’s really quite remarkable.


It's a lot more than gossip. Ira Glasser (founder of the ACLU for those who are not rayiner) says the organization is at risk of losing its way for exactly this reason:

https://www.spiked-online.com/2020/02/14/the-aclu-would-not-...


It goes deeper. I’m talking about younger staff at public interest law firms rebelling against representing organizational clients squarely within the ambit of their public interest mission, because of the client’s positions on unrelated issues. Much to the consternation of stoutly liberal attorneys of the previous generation.

It’s bad. Professionals inserting their personal political views into their jobs is destroying public faith in other professions. We can’t risk the legal profession coming to be seen as yet another way for the liberal elite to tilt the very systems of society in favor of their political ideology.


Is your suggestion here that the legal profession has historically done a good job of keeping personal political views out of the practice of law?


Regarding the ACLU specifically, that's been my impression in the past. For example, their defense of Westoboro Baptist Church during the Bush era.


Ira Glasser wasn't even alive when the ACLU was founded.


Shit. My reading comprehension sometimes...

Well, that guy did say that, whoever he is.


There was a quip that the key innovation of Fox News was to blur distinction between its news and opinion segments.

Fox News news was traditionally (and still is, from what I can tell) actual news. What's not declared is the transition from a "news" segment to an "opinion" segment.

People who weren't around forget than CNN up until ~1995 was literally just news, 24/7. Here's what's happening in the world.

Once Fox News launched and trends became clear, all 24/7 news channels switched to a blend of news and commentary. Because that's what the market preferred.


I don't think it's simply about what the market wants. If it were, you wouldn't have the majority of opinion-masquerading-as-news channels with a similar politic bent, you'd have it about down the middle, just like the consumers in the market itself.

I think the move to opinion is more about influencing decisions of the viewership than giving them what they want. Fox started it right around 9/11 as an approach to drum up support for war, and it worked, and the rest saw how effective that was and adopted it cautiously, of course the common thread and my implication is that there are agendas that they all have that this approach helps them achieve better than just delivering information would.


I don't need propagandists to delegitimize those institutions. My personal experiences dealing with them will do just fine.


> What if the propagandists are portraying it that way, in order to create that skepticism/concern. They do delegitimize one institution after another: Journalism, education, government, etc. - these are the big ones.

> But most straight news from major sources is impressively straight, IME.

Your attitude is exactly why so many posters here are skeptical of the idea of "News Literacy". Whatever right-wingers are saying, there are good reasons to distrust institutions, including journalistic ones.

Any genuine "News Literacy" course will end up teaching radical skepticism. It certainly won't teach fealty to the noble and honorable professional journalists, which is what you seem to be suggesting.


I am totally adopting "radical skepticism" as a summary of my personal beliefs. Good phrase!


Can we think subtly enough to find ground between "fealty" and deligitimization?


You don't seem to be able to:

> Most straight news from major sources is impressively straight


> What if the propagandists are portraying it that way, in order to create that skepticism/concern.

I'm sure some are, but in many cases they aren't. First of all, it's obvious to anyone observing from the outside, even absent propaganda. But it doesn't suffice to trust our intuition, so we can look to organizations like Heterodox Academy whose members are ideologically diverse academics that support their positions with empirical research. Beyond that, we can do our own homework--look at the ideological composition of the media, academy, etc. If they're growing more ideologically homogeneous over time (they are) it supports the idea that these institutions really are becoming more partisan rather than "it's just Fox News making you believe they are more partisan" (as though moderate liberals put much stock in Fox News).

> But most straight news from major sources is impressively straight, IME.

Perhaps insofar as "most straight news" isn't political, but IME most political coverage is highly partisan (I don't know how anyone can argue the contrary with a straight face following last year's BLM coverage). To be clear, I'm a moderate liberal and I find the media coverage to be very biased as do many other liberals that I know, and of course the conservatives--really the only people who think the media is on the right course are the left-most ~10% IME. Note also that a supermajority of national journalists live in the left-most of left-wing strongholds, so I really don't think it's a case of "90% are wrong about media bias".


> Perhaps insofar as "most straight news" isn't political, but IME most political coverage is highly partisan (I don't know how anyone can argue the contrary with a straight face following last year's BLM coverage). To be clear, I'm a moderate liberal and I find the media coverage to be very biased as do many other liberals that I know

A quick point: You'll recall Trump got incredible amounts of coverage from the major news outlets.

But here is my hypothesis from a former 'moderate liberal', but not a partisan:

* The neo-reactionaries (the extreme reactionary conservatism that now dominates the GOP and right wing) politicize everything, especially anything having to do with racism.

* 'Moderate liberals' are defined most by 'moderate', not belief: They chose their positions by looking for a spot between current left and right, regardless of where those two are, where they can sound reasonable to all. It isn't dependent on values or beliefs, so as the conservatives shift far to the right, they moderates navigate to the right to some degree, to stay between their shoals (moderates of the 1990s, I think, would nearly be progressives now in many ways).

Why? In MLK's 'Letter from a Birmingham jail', he says his biggest obstacle is white moderates who want peace over justice. Absolutely read it - it says it far better than I do - and I believe he has it exactly right. They hate progressives because progressives bring what moderates hate most - tension, conflict. These days, where the conservatives have adopted a hyper-aggressive position, the 'safe' response is to not support it, but to not confront it and provoke them - that brings conflict. It's like telling people not to stand up to the bully because it might provoke them - just keep your head down, about racism, about climate change, etc.

I used to be a moderate. Then I realized: How could I keep head down about racism, about climate change, etc? Why was I doing it? I knew speaking up would alienate many people I know, I would be beyond the pale, which happened - I think that corroborates my hypothesis. More important than their relationship with me, than the truth of these issues, was their moderation; I violated their norms.

But once you shake loose from the moderate mental shackles it's actually quite clear. There's not much question of the issues. I'm not really progressive; I don't read the dogma or follow a cause; but you can't really argue with their positions.


There's always been propagandistic journalism, since colonial times there were multiple newspapers and pamphlets with highly biased information. The question is, do we throw up our hands and say education is politicized, we can't do anything? Or do we try our best to teach news literacy, knowing like English or History class, it'll be infused with the personal views of the teacher.

In my view, you see 20-30% of Americans won't take the vaccine that is patently obviously far better than catching COVID. This is a massive self-inflicted wound due to the misinformation and disinformation of bad actors, charlatans, and Russian agents.

Even with a non-objective teacher, we NEED to give space for debate and discussion on news sources, otherwise we will continue to allow our "freedom" to consume garbage content to overpower our education to process that content. I'm all for freedom of speech, but we should pair that with robust education on information diets, biases, logical fallacies, lying, etc. The fact that still, 60% are educated on vaccines and trust doctors, that is a hopeful sign, that in future generations we can banish this ridiculous anti-expertise narrative rampant on the political extremes.


>what's going on in journalism programs around the country that is allowing for so much unabashedly propagandist content to be pushed out under the guise of "journalism"?

It takes two to tango. People get propagandist content because they willingly consume propagandist content. They like it. If people really wanted to be informed, they would watch C-Span all the time and the usual networks would be relegated to niche interest.


> People get propagandist content because they willingly consume propagandist content. They like it.

More like that content creates engagement and ad money, and people respond to it even though they feel worse. (Not exclusive to news, social media too)

By the way people also like hyper-palatable processed food and that doesn’t mean we get to ignore the material consequences of the obesity epidemic.


C-Span makes my brain cry.

In the words of Obama (paraphrased from Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee), when asked about how smart people in Congress are: 'You've got good people on both sides. You've got a lot of foolish people, but you've got some smart folks too.'

... Unfortunately, everyone gets equal time to speak.


> One also wonders what's going on in journalism programs around the country that is allowing for so much unabashedly propagandist content to be pushed out under the guise of "journalism"?

Is it coming from the universities directly or is it reality shock on the j-school graduate’s first job where they learn that pushin leg narratives is the only way to earn a salary?


> the landscape has become a lot more partisan/ideological in the last 10 years

To an outside observer of US discourse, the phenomenon appears to be market segmentation and control, not really "ideology".

As former president Trump (a person who says whatever he pleases, without consistent principles) said when Fox failed him, "you have forgotten the golden goose."

https://nationalpost.com/news/world/they-forgot-the-golden-g...


To not trust in the objectivity of most US universities is a huge mistake.

While the staff may have political inclinations, the majority of US universities are operated professionally.


whats your solution


I also took News Literacy at Stony Brook in 2013. I think that was one of the more popular classes for students by then, especially since it allowed students to choose which gen ed humanities requirement (out of two) to satisfy that was otherwise a bit tedious to get.

Most people I know who went into the course just for credits came out with a greater appreciation for the course in general.


How effective is the class? AP English classes have a very similar curriculum (https://apcentral.collegeboard.org/courses/ap-english-langua...), yet here we are.

The fact is there's selection bias in people who even take these types of classes, and there's really no way to know how effective it is in reducing ones propensity to be "misinformed" (by whatever measure).


AP English is available only to a narrow group of people.

> there's really no way to know how effective it is in reducing ones propensity to be "misinformed" (by whatever measure)

It seems straightforward to research it.


> AP English is available only to a narrow group of people.

Most regular English classes have a very similar curriculum and almost certainly any English teacher on the high school level will say part of their learning objectives for their students is to improve critical thinking skills.

> It seems straightforward to research it.

How would you? Seems very difficult to me.


> How would you? Seems very difficult to me.

If the question is "How effective is a course in reducing ones propensity to be "misinformed"?" then that's a pretty basic (and cheap) experimental psychology study.

Set up a control group (diverse, large enough) that goes through a traditional curriculum. No added class.

Set up a test group (diverse, matched, large enough) that adds the additional class.

Afterwards, present both groups with a battery of defensible and indefensible information, with and without source identification.

See what the statistics say.

Some psychology is hard or impossible to study, but this is relatively straightforward.


The identification of the so-called indefensible vs defensible information is probably the hardest thing here.

What’s something objectively indefensible that would require a course on misinformation to identify?

I also don’t really see how you can setup a control group - either this class is required in which case a control is not possible, or you introduce the massive selection bias.

The best way would be to assign people to taking this class, which I suppose could be straightforward. I sincerely doubt there would be any effect once you control for grades in something like English.


> What’s something objectively indefensible that would require a course on misinformation to identify?

Off the top of my head?

- Susie says the sky is blue. The sky is blue, because Susie says so.

- Frank says climate change is real. Frank is a convicted pedophile. Therefore, climate change is not real.

- Among all animals, only man is rational. Women are not men. Therefore, women are not rational.

- All humans are alive, therefore life begins at conception.

- Hacker News is the best source of informed commentary, because informed commenters comment on Hacker News.

And I've seen real world analogs of all of those on cable news shows.

> massive selection bias

This is something that experimental psychology has been solving for about 100 years. They're not bad at it.


That's because the problem isn't media literacy, it's culture war. Both sides believe that they are fighting a do or die battle for their ideology, and are likely to support something even if the evidence is dubious because it advances the cause.


I'd hazard the problem is alienation, as a result from destroying traditional community activities and replacing them with impersonal, monetized digital alternatives.

You don't have a yearning to be part of a tribe, unless you feel like you're missing one.

cue histrionics

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=z6U1p0hehtg


I learned to think critically about what I read from one specific incident. There was a local story about a high-school football game that afterward there was widespread vandalism and high levels of aggression/violence.

I was at that game, it it was all very normal, maybe with higher than average attendance, leaving a bit of a mess. The only way I could imagine the news being written as it was, was that the reporter wasn't there, talked to a few people, and extrapolated making the story exciting. There may also have been a motivation to make a school look bad. In any case, the jig was up for the value of in-black-and-white.


The problem, in my experience, is that most people are happy to learn "how to apply critical thinking to judge news stories," will agree to the principals in a general sense, and then go on and only apply such tools towards things they are biased against and while uncritically believing any reporting that either confirms their bias or seems to be part of the common sense of their peer group.

For instance, NPR talks about news literacy here, and I'm sure most of the people at NPR "know" how to be critical, but their level of reporting often doesn't reflect that.

For another example, there's a podcast I listen to by journalists that often point out poor reporting and misinformation spread by other journalists. But they'll usually uncritically repeat the "common sense/everyone knows" ideas that permeate the media outside of their wheelhouse. I only saw a realization of this issue once, when they were talking about the Gell-Mann Amnesia affect, then a couple of minutes later were talking about news reports showing XYZ, and they gave some throw away disclaimer to the effect of "although, I suppose going by the Gell-Mann Amnesia idea, we perhaps shouldn't trust these reports 100%."

In the end, it seems that news for most people serves as a form of infotainment. Infotainment that spreads a lot of disinformation, but leaves people with the illusion they're informed. I think most people would do well to take a few months off from the news and see how it effects the things they actually have control over (usually a lot less than they assume), or how out of place they'll feel when they jump back in (usually not much, since it seems most news items are forgotten within a few weeks).


It's a critical point.

After thinking about it (circa 2008ish?), I switched to the BBC for my base American news source, then check both US liberal and conservative media if it's a topic I'm interested in.

If you really want the facts, you shouldn't have any opposition to objectively reading someone from the other side, trying to make their case.


By the way, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is bullshit up until someone does an actual study on it. It's just anecdote based at this point, and my personal anecdotes don't support it.


smells like cognitive bias


Was there anything about the implicit trust of government sources news media seem to have?

I'm always annoyed when the media sites "anonymous intelligence sources" for a story. You're telling me that you trust spies to tell you the truth? Spies are probably pretty damn good at lying.

The media will cite the Pentagon with a straight face completely forgetting its lies to the whole world about WMDs.

And finally somehow both the Army and Pentagon both agreeing on a version of a story means the story is verified. It's not like they communicate with each other and have the same objective!


Thank you for contributing something positive and informative!


> It was taught in more the general sense of how to apply critical thinking to judge news stories.

Critical thinking is a general thing, not something for news stories. Besides the idea that school teach critical thinking in anything is laughable in this day and age.

What should be taught is history of news and why it exists. Not how to decipher good "news" from bad "news" because there is no good or bad "news". There is only agenda. Schools should also teach the history of modern school systems and the education department. Quite eye opening.

By your comment, it's apparently clear you didn't learn anything valuable in your class. But then again, it's Stony Brook.


I think this is a well informed take on the issue, unlike so many of the other negative comments here that inadvertently prove the need for media literacy classes.


For most media especially any media that is trying to control my life and or other people let it control their life I ignore. I.e. Covid news ... i get my covid news directly from my hospital friends in different cities across the U.S. They have no incentive to lie about their reality vs. all paid media does who wants to get you hooked via fear and make you keep coming back for more.

Im sure my views on media arent popular, but i think differently and paid media that controls peoples lives has no place in my life! Its too easy to tweak the truth an inch or more for money/greed.

Though if there are now classes where part of the class is teaching if that news source is telling the full truth i guess my views on media aren't that crazy. Either way its tuned out and I listen to no boogieman only my friends who work in hospitals across the country.


It's amazing how different of a story one gets from ICU nurses and doctors, vs mainstream media.

In retrospect, I think the story of the pandemic is going to be how much was concealed from the public, and the impact those images that did break through had (e.g. Dr Li Wenliang's selfies, hooked up to oxygen support).

It's easy to live in an abstract world, until you've seen someone struggling for breath or being put under for intubation.


Ive shared my view on media here before and always get downvoted. That is fine tons and tons of people hook themselves up their boogeyman of choice (Faux News, MSNbsee, C&N, NewsMax, EpochTimes, etc, etc .. all media driven by dollars and making investors and or their parent companies raking in the dough) and let it control their lives.

After two months into the pandemic I was done with it and went about living my life with a mask on. Some very close family members struggled with Covid .. it is real for sure but this pandemic is a human experiment where the real truth and facts will come in time. Time will prevail and help us best deal with it ... even at this point i feel we are still in the experiment walking blindly as they change things .. get vaccine no mask.. wait now wear mask if vaccinated ..oh wait your gonna need a booster shot .. lol

We are all gerbils even the ones pushing out the dynamic information!


On the matter of changing guidance, I think the pandemic exposed the public's ignorance of real science.

Science is a verb, not a noun.

It's easy to forget that when it's taught as a series of facts, pre-discovered long ago. Most students are never faced with the unknown edge of science (until grad school).

Because fundamentally, usefully, that's what science really is -- a method for systematically exploring the unknown.

What that actually looks like in practice -- fits and starts, ideas and experiments and retractions, conflicting data resolution, framework guesses and confirmations and rejection -- has largely been forgotten (after ~1990, in the developed media?).

And becoming used to reporting on scientific discoveries is fine... until we're mode switched to reporting on scientific research, and neither media nor public understand the distinction.

Science is always wrong. Until it's not. And that's its strength.


Exactly it's not just right yet ..time will make it right.

If you believe everything you are hearing as fact one day the facts change/the science which it does then cool.. I'm on the fence waiting with a mask on as needed to hear the real science and facts as of now they change quickly so and again I'm waiting for it all to work itself out. Not anti vaxxer or anti science here just a realist


IMO the most effective and most widely deployed (especially among the supposedly more reputable publications) propaganda tool isn’t outright lies, but rather, selective reporting of cherry-picked facts and omission of others to shape stories into their predefined narratives. TFA doesn’t address that at all. It seems to me that students’ main takeaway from this course would be to trust NPR, NYT and the like, rather than viral content. Which is of course great for NPR, but doesn’t help when your “trustworthy” media selection decide to suppress all arguments from another side, or remain silent on certain stories altogether.

Note: This comment was expanded a few times, but the gist remained the same.

Edit: No, I’m not saying “trust NPR, NYT and the like instead of viral content you see on Facebook” isn’t a good takeaway. I’m saying the more effective type of propaganda (at least for people who don’t tend to fall for the obvious crap) isn’t discussed.


Yes! This is my pet peeve! There are so many studies and sources that, if taken out of context and pointed correctly, can be used to support your claim.

Now combine with the good old “you don’t know what you don’t know” and you have a great tool to mislead the masses.

Add a bit of cognitive bias on top (combined with being profiled by “popular search engines” that give you the results you already believe in) and you’re hooked.

Underlining story: there is so much need for critical thinking in our schools!!!


> This is my pet peeve!

I'm confused: Isn't this a very common narrative, especially among a certain political group?

> Underlining story: there is so much need for critical thinking in our schools!!!

That is the solution IMHO and IME: Teach critical thinking, not who is right or wrong. That's what my teachers did almost universally, what other teachers I know of did, and what seems to me is happening in this class.


>I'm confused: Isn't this a very common narrative, especially among a certain political group.

It's common for both political groups...

The people who don't think their political group distorts the truth are a prime target for this class.


What basis is there for these claims?

> IMO the most effective and most widely deployed (especially among the supposedly more reputable publications) propaganda tool isn’t outright lies, but rather, selective reporting of cherry-picked facts and omission of others to shape stories into their predefined narratives. TFA doesn’t address that at all.

That doesn't mean it isn't taught. The article can't cover everything taught in the class. So that is unfounded.

> It seems to me that students’ main takeaway from this course would be to trust NPR, NYT and the like, rather than viral content.

What makes you say that's the main takeaway; can you cite something in the article or elsewhere? The only argument behind it is the unfounded claim above.

Are you suggesting people should trust viral content? How should they interact with information about their world and decide what to trust?

> doesn’t help when your “trustworthy” media selection decide to suppress all arguments from another side, or remain silent on certain stories altogether.

That's not my experience. Obviously, news sources have limited resources and time, so they can't report everything nor will they always make good decisions. They also are there to serve readers, and thus should omit information that lacks foundation in truth - I certainly don't want to waste my time on it. They won't be perfect, but the only core 'mainstream' source (e.g., major national publications, the NYT, WSJ, ABC News, etc.) that I've seen systematically show bias is Fox News (however, I don't watch CNN or MSNBC) and a little in the Washington Post, which I notice few people remark on.

In the NY Times, for example, I haven't seen it, despite people repeating ad infinitum that it happens (repetition, I hope they teach, has no correlation with truth). They even have an opinion page with as many conservative writers as anything else, and they are among their most popular columns.


Sorry but I don’t have time to write a case study on NYT biases. Also, you seem to be thinking purely in terms of U.S. politics, Democrats vs Republicans, left vs right. I’m talking more broadly. You’re not going to get a balanced view on a lot of international topics by consuming and comparing an ensemble of U.S. mainstream media (you can even throw British media in there) for instance, however bitterly they fight about U.S. politics.


And? Is that bad? It gives an "American" perspective, which considering the influence of the US is important. That does not make it a bad newspaper.


I can’t answer this question without venturing into nationalistic flame bait territory.


Is that not problematic? You make an extraordinary claim, but then "there is no time for me to back it up." But there was time to make the claim, and this is ultimately the problem. You have just accepted out of hand that it is truth and want others to accept it.

Why should I trust anything you say, then? I don't doubt that there are biases, they're certainly are. But you're expecting us to just accept it out of hand.


> You have just accepted out of hand that it is truth and want others to accept it.

No, I really don’t give a damn about whether others accept it. I can post my opinion simply as food for thought.


If this is your stance, then walk the walk and stop replying.


Bias is like an accent: people rarely notice their own. If you haven't seen the NY Times' bias, it probably matches your own.


It is also like an accent in that a bit of one is not bad at all, but a very heavy one makes things almost unrecognizable.

"... has a bias" is trivially true for just about anything. That also makes that sentence useless unless you add more information.


Even the idea that an accent is "a bit" or "heavy" depends on believing that some particular way of speaking is the standard, with zero accent. It's very close to declaring some accent the "right" way to speak.

Recognizing that "everyone has an accent" and "everyone has a bias" is about learning to think in greater depth than the natural human tendency to believe "I'm right, and everyone who sees the world differently is wrong." That endeavor is not useless.


There isn't a 'right' way to speak, but there are accurate facts against we can measure bias.

> Recognizing that "everyone has an accent" and "everyone has a bias" is about learning to think in greater depth than the simplistic tendency to believe "I'm right, and everyone who sees the world differently is wrong." That endeavor is not useless.

I'd add that the most important step is understanding one's own, and understanding that you always have biases that are invisible to you.


> there are accurate facts against we can measure bias

In the context of reporting, bias isn't about reporting accurate facts. That's honesty or accuracy. A source could be very biased but 100% accurate (by cherry picking facts that fit an agenda) or neutral but inaccurate (by reporting everything they hear without any evaluation or judgement).

Bias is about choosing what facts are worth reporting, and which words (with similar denotations but different connotations) to use to describe those facts.

> the most important step is understanding one's own, and understanding that you always have biases that are invisible to you.

Agreed.


Yes, I agree about choice of facts also being part of it (I wouldn't exclude accuracy either). I didn't use precise wording, so it's a good point to add.

But my conclusion is the same: The 'story' is usually pretty accurate, IME, within certain limitations (e.g., news moves quickly, and I find the NYT often omits some important questions, though not political ones).


No it doesn't. You don't need anyone with zero accent. You just observe that a distribution has some kind of average or median, done.

Also, you are drawing the wrong conclusion. "Everyone has..." is simplistic. Some have more, some less is nuanced.


You're treating that theoretical average or median, even if no one speaks that way, as the standard accent against which all others are compared.

That's one way in which people sometimes choose a "right" or "zero" accent. Another is by social standing ("the queen's English" was literally that).

Either way, that's declaring one accent the right way of speaking, and describing people who speak differently as having a "heavy" accent instead of simply a different way of speaking.

Perhaps a specific example would make this clear. There are many dialects and accents of German in Germany. Which one would you declare the standard, and who would you describe as having a "heavy" accent?

My point is that making such a judgement is wrong to begin with, and one should simply describe a particular accent by its features or regional distribution, not as "heavy".

(And to respond, briefly, to the comment below: when learning a foreign language you choose to learn a particular dialect and accent. That doesn't make other accents "heavy", they just aren't the accent you've learned.)


It declares it standard, not "right". If you learn a foreign language having a standard to aim for is good and large deviations are difficult. Stop trying to turn this into right or wrong.


My whole point is to avoid turning this into right or wrong by realizing that an accent or a bias merely describes a particular way of speaking or thinking, not a degree of deviation from some standard.

In linguistics, this is the prescriptive vs descriptive debate. It's not controversial that a prescriptive grammar declares how a language should or ought to be used. Declaring one accent the standard is a similar prescriptive position.


Here's a huge list of times the NYT and the other organizations you listed made shit up over the last four years, with citations

https://taibbi.substack.com/p/aaugh-a-brief-list-of-official...


> It seems to me that students’ main takeaway from this course would be to trust NPR, NYT and the like, rather than viral content. Which is of course great for NPR.

I had some minimal education on scrutinizing sources in high school and that's pretty much what it was. I think we spend maybe 10min talking about yellow journalism.

Topics such as evaluating which parties have what direct conflicts of interests or ancillary motivations and how that may affect their reporting were simply not covered. It would have been trivially easy to dig up a few non-controversial historical examples of people peddling very wrong narratives for the benefit of those who fund them.


maybe i'm not aware of the curriculum, but propaganda seems like something that would be addressed in any conversation about news literacy? seems to be the very definition of news literacy -- knowing when to weed through reporting and look deeper. also, cherry picked reporting is an insignificant problem compared to knowing how to think critically about reporting. knowing how to think critically about the news would (ideally) fix this problem!


whats your solution


> It seems to me that students’ main takeaway from this course would be to trust NPR, NYT and the like, rather than viral content. Which is of course great for NPR, but doesn’t help when your “trustworthy” media selection decide to suppress all arguments from another side, or remain silent on certain stories altogether.

Did they post the syllabus in the article and I missed it? Or did you get on your hobby horse and just make unfounded assumptions?


Indeed. Jacques Ellul discusses this at length in his book "Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes" [1]. Whenever I reread this book I feel it's more and more relevant than before.

> "But modern propaganda has long disdained the ridiculous lies of past and outmoded forms of propaganda. It operates instead with many different kinds of truth— half-truth, limited truth, truth out of context. Even Goebbels always insisted that Wehrmacht communiqués be as accurate as possible."

1: https://archive.org/details/Propaganda_201512


Given the primary example used on the kids, the 2016 election, this seems more about instilling bias under the name "news literacy". Are they going to do a section studying the "coverage" of hunter biden's laptop? Remember, for weeks it was cast as Russian propaganda. What about the origins of covid.. will they discuss how at first the lab leak theory was discarded as "misinformation"? I could not trust a public school to ever touch such topics.

This is as comforting as hearing that schools are teaching religion.


I did a module on news literacy at my public high school (not in USA). It typically involved taking some notable story and examining material from every publisher that had written on it. We examined both recent affairs (previous 2-3 years) and historical (women's right to vote, native people's/colonial affairs) and how they were covered in the media at the time. It was a fascinating thing to be taught about, and had a big focus on critical thinking - not just "what is written" but "why is it written this way", "what does the publisher want you to take from this".

When the lab leak theory emerged/was initially dismissed, I was actually reminded of my lessons from high school.


Part of A Level English Language for me. How to read critically, really. It's the old "freedom fighter vs terrorist" exercise.

Of course, this was pre-Internet and the focus was on written English... it's not like we were taught (say) how video editing can control perceptions.


Yeah we had this at my private religious high school in Canada as part of civics class. It didn't really have a right or left bend, it focussed on critical thought, sourcing (anonymous sources vs named, credentialed source), fact verifiability, and reputation.

Especially with what the internet has done to news this really should be taught in schools everywhere.


I read the article and I disagree that the 2016 election is a specific example of what students in class actually learn about (which is what I interpreted when you said “used on the kids”). The 2016 example is actually part of a study to claim there is evidence that students have poor ability to discern from good quality and bad quality news sources, such as a video of dubious origin on Facebook.

The actual examples used in class was influencers talking about nutrition and a teacher talking about jan 6 being controversial in the class. And I think your concern that news literacy may be defined too simplistically in the classroom is valid but your reading of the article seems to have poor comprehension.


Oh come on...

> https://web.archive.org/web/20171106063502/https://www.thegu...

> Trump dump: president throws entire box of fish food into precious koi carp pond

> While his host, Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe, spoons small amounts of feed, the US leader gives the fish a large feast

> Having apparently lost patience with tempting the fish to the edge with modest offerings of food, Trump simply upended his wooden container and dumped its entire contents into the water.

> White House reporters captured the moment on their smartphones and tweeted evidence of the president’s questionable grasp of fish keeping.

> Abe is seen grinning, as is a woman in a kimono standing to one side. Next to her, Rex Tillerson – perhaps grateful for a moment of comic relief after he was named in the Paradise Papers – could not suppress a laugh, according to witnesses.

> Some speculated that a poor palace employee would be dispatched to the scene of Trump’s faux pas to the clean up the mess as soon as the two leaders disappeared inside.

> Trump is not alone in misjudging the fishes’ appetite, however. According to the Aquascape website, overfeeding is the most common mistake made by keepers of koi carp.

> “This can make your fish sick, and excessive amounts of waste that strains the limits of what can be biologically reduced, results in a decline of water quality,” the site says.

The whole article is written as "trump stupid, kill fish"

Of course the reality is... trump did it all by protocol, doing what the host did, first feeding by the spoon, then throwing in the rest... but they even managed to crop the video, showing only what trump did, and cutting Abe out of the frame.

This is not some random guy on facebook, or some cheap rag.. it's a (once) respectable newspaper. If I cannot trust them with reporting about something, that was recorded by many, many cameras, and with video available everywhere, how can I trust them with reporting about something, I have no direct insight to?


> Your support helps protect the Guardian’s independence and it means we can keep delivering quality journalism that’s open for everyone around the world. Every contribution, however big or small, is so valuable for our future.

Lol "quality journalism" as they say it themselves. Not my level of quality. They have good pieces. But hit-pieces like this makes me unable to support them at all.


Oh yeah I remember this whole charade. It happened rather early and was blatantly transparent.


yeah, and it's sad, because it wasn't something that was unverifiable, it wasn't an "unnamed source"... it was something recorded by many cameras and broadcasted in many places... figuring out it was a lie was a 5 minute process.

How can i trust them then with an "unnamed source" stories, when they lie about stuff recorded on camera?


You can't, and shouldn't. The people in this thread that still have blind faith in the legacy media are mind boggling to me


This is one of my favorite memories from the Trump years; and such a fun example of the depths to which our media establishment has sunk


Fox did multiple coverages on Obama's tan suit that he wore once or twice... lol.


An important part of indoctrination is training children that only regime approved news sources are reliable.


Didn't you study the difference in quality versus non-quality sources as a child? I remember lots of term papers where my references were questioned and only references of certain quality were allowed.


Yes, that's exactly the training I was referring to.


Are you suggesting that all sources are exactly equal? If not, then people need a framework to determine source quality, otherwise we aren't really preparing them for the world. What is your proposal?


It doesn't matter how many times these news agencies get caught making stuff up out of whole cloth, they are "reliable news" because people are conditioned to believe it. Faith is strong.


Not sure why this is downvoted. This is what I was taught in the past - mainstream media is reliable and trustworthy. Hell, those same media organizations reinforce that belief when they attack less mainstream news sources.

Yet if you look at the list of mistakes the mainstream media has made in the past decade I’m not sure why anyone would assume they are worthy of an assumption of good faith reporting.


The problem is the non-mainstream is worse. It's like the alt-med argument - sure, point at "big pharma" and tell us how corrupt they are. That doesn't mean homeopathy works.


They trained you to divide the world into two neat and convenient boxes where one box is represented by the NYT and the other box is represented by Alex Jones and flat earthers.


No, 'they' didn't train me to do that, I'm capable of using my brain and evaluating sources. If anything 'they' taught me to examine primary and secondary sources, look for bias, and draw my own conclusions. 'They' also taught me statistics so I can understand the use and misuse of such things by journalists.

I've barely ever come across the NYT in my lifetime, not being American.

Good try though.


Sometimes people use concrete examples to explain abstract concepts. If the concrete examples aren't a part of your culture, the underlying abstract argument is disproven.


I don't understand why they wouldn't use historical examples or stuff about aliens or big foot. History is a great filter and we can now somewhat reasonably understand smear campaigns and propaganda from decades ago. It's not as clear what's being manipulated at the current moment.

This just seems more like a way to influence children's political leanings.


Like, you know, the multiple times the US has gone to war over misleading and incomplete claims? (1898, 1964, 2002)


It seems like we read different articles.

My takeaway is that they’re trying to teach students how to identify bad sources/reporting or outright fake news, not litigate specific news reports.

Using 2016 as an example doesn’t invalidate that goal or imply bias.


this is why that education is so critical. because the news literacy is countering the exact type of thinking you are responding to. Any analysis is treated as criticism. Analysis isn't criticism, its analysis.


Yes you are correct, you did read a different article, that’s the core problem. A large portion of Trump’s base still believes that fishy things happened in the election, if the journalist covering this story wanted to cover this without bias and truly believes that the program is a net positive (which I agree is probably true) they shouldn’t be injecting divisive politics into their coverage as these people are completely done with the media at this point, the OP is going easy describing what some of these people believe. They roll their eyes at anything these people say now, they have lost all faith in the media.

The story reads like the journalist is completely unaware of their implicit left wing bias and makes little effort to fix it - to them, this example is an obvious example to use but it will alienate readers on the other side (like the OP), yet they used it anyway.


Hunter Biden's laptop falls under this category. Corporate media and social media companies claim "fake news" and move to censor it a month before the election. An honest look at the actual reporting, as well as what followed, shows that this was not in fact the case.


As someone who actually engaged with that story, I found the reporting and posited facts to be incoherent and full of holes. It only made sense if one presumed the outcome. Literacy includes evaluating why something was covered by certain folks and not by others as well as the internal coherence and the inter-relationship.


> As someone who actually engaged with that story, I found the reporting and posited facts to be incoherent and full of holes.

Was the story of Russians electing Trump coherent and without holes?


https://www.intelligence.senate.gov/sites/default/files/docu...

It has real evidence. I can hunt down more if you like.


Like the chemical weapons in Iraq, that kind of evidence?


The kind of evidence provided by the GOP? Yes that kind.

The senate council that had those findings was GOP lead. The GOP lies a lot, but usually for their own benefit.


> The kind of evidence provided by the GOP? Yes that kind.

Do you assume I somehow care? This and then Obama's 8 years of drone bombing of weddings in Pakistan, hospitals in Afghanistan, prolongation & expansion of mass surveillance all over the world just shows how "trustworthy" your government is (or in fact, any monopoly of violence).

> The GOP lies a lot, but usually for their own benefit.

For whose benefit is DNC lying?


For the record I'm more of a center libertarian.

I dislike both political parties, and wish we would pass ranked choice voting ASAP so we can break out of this two party system already.

Both parties are corrupt. However, only one has recently tried to overthrow our entire governmental system.

Edits for clarity, and to add that if someone takes an attack on their party as a personal attack, there are larger issues there (not that I am claiming you are, but it seems something worth mentioning in a discussion like this).


Nice.

> wish we would pass ranked choice voting

Do you believe that parties that in a joint effort "fortified" debates in 2000 to make sure no 3rd party could receive air time and wider audience, would commit political suicide introducing a mechanism that'd shake their positions?

> Both parties are corrupt. However, only one has recently tried to overthrow our entire political system.

I'm an outsider, is it the one that "fortified" the election [1]? I mean, Trump is an egotistical narcissist who didn't drain any swamps and probably didn't fulfill a single promise. But all those things "Trump has dementia", "he attacks the media", "writes too many executive orders like a dictator"... Weren't they just projections? Whose "press conferences" are even more disgraceful and staged than Putin's "pryamaya liniya" ("direct line")? Whose administration admits they're responsible for the censorship policies of social platforms? Who's flirting with oligarchs (not to be confused with entrepreneurs) and who lifted sanctions on Putin's pipeline while banning the building of a local one? The people from Bush administration, on whose side were they?

[1]: https://time.com/5936036/secret-2020-election-campaign/


Again, both are corrupt.

But I was referring to the one that incited a riot that rushed the Capitol.

However, neither will change until forced. The best way to accomplish that that I can see is for someone either independent or in a splinter group in one of the main parties to run on ranked choice. Until then, the best we can do is vote for whoever is best (or less bad :/ ) for each job, regardless of their party.

As entertaining as it is, mudslinging between parties doesn't accomplish much. There's so much garbage both have done, we'd just all get covered with plenty of mud left to spare.


What did follow? Where is the evidence that we were promised to eventually be shown?

If you make big claims and then don't back them up, it's hard for me to see it as "censorship" vs "hype avoidance."


They literally suspended the account of the nation's oldest newspaper for weeks before a Presidential election

"Hype avoidance" is a nice euphemism though. I'll be sure to be wary of anyone using it going forward.


> Using 2016 as an example doesn’t invalidate that goal or imply bias.

It actually does:

> Republicans' trust has not recovered since then, while Democrats' has risen sharply. In fact, Democrats' trust over the past four years has been among the highest Gallup has measured for any party in the past two decades. This year, the result is a record 63-percentage-point gap in trust among the political party groups.

https://news.gallup.com/poll/321116/americans-remain-distrus...


You stated that it implies bias without articulating why you believe the bias exists.

Will you elaborate on how you feel the quote you included implies bias?


From that report I just wanted to show that shortly before the 2020 election, the Gallup poll showed that confidence in the mass media has continued to decline among Republicans and independent voters, to 10% and 36%, respectively. Among Democratic voters, confidence rose to 73%.

Then you have other other polls from Gallup, like this one showing that six in 10 in US see partisan bias in news media. From the report:

> Americans Believe News Media Favors Democrats

Gallup asked those who perceive political bias in the news media to say which party the news media favors. Almost two-thirds (64%) of those who believe the media favors a political party say it is the Democratic Party. Only about a third as many (22%) believe the media favors Republicans.

> This is not new. Americans who perceive media bias have always said the direction of that bias leaned in favor of the Democrats, although the percentage holding that view has varied. The gap was smaller in 2003 and 1995, but was more similar to today's attitudes in 2000.

https://news.gallup.com/poll/207794/six-partisan-bias-news-m...


Will they discuss Roland Fryer’s finding against the misinformation regarding to police shootings? https://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/12/upshot/surprising-new-evi...

Who is using selective reporting to create a false narrative for what purpose?


There has to be some coordination, if suddenly all the protests and antifa demonstrations stopped seemingly overnight in news reporting.

I would be surprised if interactions with police quite suddenly turned less confrontational. People still do things to attract police intervention and police still respond and have to leverage lethal force, but we don't hear that much about it in the media. so, what gives?


Police lethal force is still covered whenever it happens in my local paper.

The protest coverage faded out over time; anecdotally, so have the protests I've seen while driving around town.


From NPR's reporting, it seemed like the class was more about looking for additional sources or examining sources.

I'm sure the students could find tons of examples of NPR's nonsense using these methods. Especially relevant is checking photos or videos accompanying articles, the main example given in the report, cause all the big players get caught on this one constantly.


If they had any trustworthiness they would also include the media that led to 2/3 of Democrats falsely believing that Russia had tampered with the votes: https://mobile.twitter.com/peterjhasson/status/1064259048902....

They could also look into all the Russia Collusion stories that turned out to be hot air. People’s overreliance on the Steele Dossier would actually be a good example.

Like there’s actually plenty of stuff on both sides to put together a pretty well balanced unit and I think it would be valuable. But you can’t expect partisans with ideological blinders to teach kids how to be objective.


... Did you just use a Twitter link that does nothing but make claims on numbers as a source? More specifically, it provides the claim that there was no tampering without any evidence.

Meanwhile [0] shows that they have the capability, and the motivations.

This is the exact reason we need a class like this.

[0] https://www.intelligence.senate.gov/sites/default/files/docu...

Edit: And even looking at the numbers provided this is a mischaracterization. Slightly over 30% of Dem's believe it happened, and another slightly over 30% think it probably did. These two things are not equivalent.


The numbers come from a YouGov poll [0] as the image in the tweet shows.

Also I think it’s funny you link that senate report, because section VI of the report is titled “NO EVIDENCE OF CHANGED VOTES OR MANIPULATED VOTE TALLIES”

[0] https://today.yougov.com/topics/politics/articles-reports/20...


> The numbers come from a YouGov poll [0] as the image in the tweet shows.

The numbers provide no evidence for the second claim, which means that the twitter post is being intellectually dishonest.

> section VI of the report is titled NO EVIDENCE OF CHANGED VOTES OR MANIPULATED VOTE TALLIES

And there's not much (or no detectable) evidence of most hacks until suddenly there is. It is not unreasonable to assume a compromised system is compromised. I personally think there probably were not manipulation of the tallies, but I can understand thinking there probably was.

There's certainly much more evidence of it than say, Hunter Biden's laptop.


Omg why would democrats believe this it's not like the CIA released a report saying that Russia tampered in the election.


We know that Trump's campaign manager (working for free for Trump yet deeply in debt to a Russian oligarch) funneled internal campaign data to a Russian intelligence officer. This is according to Senate Republicans [1]. We also know that this info was passed on to the Russian FSB, which was engaged in a psyops campaign against the American public in an effort to elect Donald Trump. This is according to the Mueller Report and the US Treasury Department [2] [3]. Further context includes Trump's son, son-in-law, and campaign manager (the very same one working with a Russian FSB officer) meeting with a Russian spy at Trump's house to discuss trading dirt on Clinton in exchange for relaxed Russia relations (including lifting sanctions related to Russia's invasion of Crimea) [2].

What's more, Trump and his entire campaign lied about all of this, and Trump threw his weight and the weight of the government he controlled into obstructing the subsequent investigation. When the Mueller Report was finally released, it was torpedoed by Trump's attorney general, whose representation of the Mueller Report was characterized by a federal judge (who has seen more of the Muller Report than you or me) as "misleading" and "lacking candor":

  "The inconsistencies between Attorney General Barr's statements, made at a time when the public did not have access to the redacted version of the Mueller Report to assess the veracity of his statements, and portions of the redacted version of the Mueller Report that conflict with those statements cause the Court to seriously question whether Attorney General Barr made a calculated attempt to influence public discourse about the Mueller Report in favor of President Trump despite certain findings in the redacted version of the Mueller Report to the contrary"

  "The speed by which Attorney General Barr released to the public the summary of Special Counsel Mueller's principal conclusions, coupled with the fact that Attorney General Barr failed to provide a thorough representation of the findings set forth in the Mueller Report, causes the Court to question whether Attorney General Barr's intent was to create a one-sided narrative about the Mueller Report—a narrative that is clearly in some respects substantively at odds with the redacted version of the Mueller Report." [4]
Actual collusion between the Russian FSB and the Trump campaign occurred. It's documented and has been investigated by several bodies. Actual hacking of our political system by a foreign government in favor of one candidate occurred and has been investigated.

[1] https://www.intelligence.senate.gov/sites/default/files/docu...

[2] https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e4/Report_O...

[3] https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy0126

[4] https://www.courthousenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Ba...


The problem with both of your examples is that they came from a source which had cried wolf (lied) a nearly unfathomable number of times. As an indie I hate to say it, but when there is so much noise to signal coming from one source, it's very likely for a rational person to default to ignoring info from that source. It's actually a decent strategy when there is more data than processing power. I have no problem with teaching that behavior at all. It would encourage sources to have a better SNR.

I should add that I am in no way validating either of your claims. I have not seen any info that warrants a "smoking gun" analysis of something evil happening in either case. So far we have chatter and some data points. Would love to be proven wrong on this as that would be a more interesting result.


I think it should be more generalized than "news" related but other than that, I applaud such lessons in public education.

Coursework should focus on aspects of information gathering/research; understanding sources, credibility, incentive/motive structures of those sources; comparison techniques between information sources for cross comparison; and then with all the information they gather, skills to apply critical thinking and assessment of the information. You also need to understand human biases that can creep in even when you're aware of the biases that often effect critical assessment.

In the information age, we need a population that's more educated about information, disinformation, misinformation, common propoganda/manipulation techniques, and so on. We also need a population who under certain conditions can do primary information gathering. Unless you're in the business of manipulating people or those who manipulate people align with your interests (they usually don't), then it's to your benefit to have informed peers to help fight off nonsense.


If someone claims X is true because of Y it can be misinformation even if X is in fact true and it can not be misinformation even if X is in fact false.

For example, suppose I claim that using brand X soap can give you cancer because they use fat harvested from animals that grazed at a toxic waste dump and that fat contains the toxic chemicals that the animals ingested. Suppose it turns out that brand X soap can in fact give you cancer, but it is because some chemical used to make the soap's wrapping paper is carcinogenic and leaches into the soap. The soap itself is vegan soap with no animal products used in its manufacture. Same for the paper.

My claim is then misinformation even though my claim that the soap can give you cancer is true, because my reasons for the claim were wrong and I had no even remotely plausible evidence to believe those reasons.


> Are they going to do a section studying the "coverage" of hunter biden's laptop? Remember, for weeks it was cast as Russian propaganda.

Remember how this story was botched by an entertainment show (not my definition, theres) disguised as news (Fox News)?[0]

I think this is the point. It's hard to take a "journalist" seriously when there's so many obvious points of amateurism. Kids should be taught to keep those stewards of information accountable and that shock jock news entertainment (CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, etc.) should warrant extra criticism (if not downright ignored completely).

[0] - https://www.newsweek.com/tucker-carlson-says-he-had-authenti...


They should teach independent thoughts. Sadly this is so inconvenient for most of the adults.


It's nice to dream about but it will never happen. The incentives are all wrong for public education to teach critical thought.

The politically appointed or "hired by reference" committees and/or teams of bureaucrat that are responsible for setting curriculum at the state level would never do that because then they'd have to answer to politicians on both sides of the isle for making their job harder. People operating at these levels of bureaucracy don't need to be told what the boss wants, they read the room and know in which direction they should be erring. Your career doesn't take you through those sorts of positions that far if you're not the kind of person who does that.

Furthermore, the career arc of someone who believes that society's problems will be solved or mitigated by helping the masses think critically is unlikely to take them anywhere near the high levels of public education policy.

And even if it did happen the schools wouldn't teach it and they'd have to be dragged kicking and screaming over a decades long period (because the unions and the municipalities have enough power to play that stalling game for that long) because corralling teenagers is harder when they can call you on your bullshit forcing you to address tough topics that have no good answer other than "I'm in charge, deal with it".


>Sadly this is so inconvenient for most of the adults.

I've heard about it before, but I struggle hard to understand what does it mean

like parents will go to school to flame teacher cuz their kid disagrees with them on $hot_topic?


> like parents will go to school to flame teacher cuz their kid disagrees with them on $hot_topic?

Worse: for even bringing up a hot topic without bending entirely to the parent's opinion on it (where these opinions differ from a straight description of the facts, is when it's really annoying to deal with this—no amount of neutrality will make them happy, because that's "indoctrination" from their POV). Definitely doesn't have to get to the point of the kid disagreeing with the parent, just presenting anything that they don't agree with can result in angry calls or visits from parents.

Note also that you'd probably be very surprised what can count as a "hot topic".


It actually happens a lot (either teacher flames parents for injecting too much "independence thoughts" or the other way around). It is also very inconvenient for politicians/big corps/media.


Yep, the news has become just propaganda... no responsibility, no nothing. But people like to consume stuff they believe in...


> "has become"

Was there a time when it wasn't?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Media_bias#History


The media has had a "golden age", where the largest vehicles did research and presented well fundamented ideas. It lasted for at least a few decades, as it was visibly improving at the 40's and was still very good at the 80's.

Things were never perfect, of course. And we have never had as many facts available to reach our own conclusions (so, it's arguable if people are less or more informed today), but looking only at the media, things weren't always that bad.


I mean one way to teach this class would be to simply cover current events in an over the top, biased way and then discuss the tricks used and concerns.

(Maybe students get credit for credibly challenging anything mentioned in the class)


I taught high school for a hot second. I think the approach you suggest would be terrifically engaging for students. Teach them the tricks and make a game of trying to fool one another by setting up two competing teams of "news media," print and talking heads. Essentially, you're teaching them informal fallacies.


I agree this would be a great tool. But I hesitate to think how they will overrun reddit and other places with their newfound tricks to dupe the olds.


The importance of coming to a common consensus on key issues and ideas as a society means that we gotta try, and public institutions is where it should happen foremost. Writing them all off with broad generalizations and cherry-picked moments from the last few years to justify it is just a long way of saying that everyone should give up without trying.

No. We gotta try.


If the English lessons in the US are covering text analysis, reading comprehension then nothing stops teachers or whoever is responsible for managing the curricula to include issues like fake news, propaganda in today's media - especially in the virtual forms. Of course this might look easy on the paper and be hard to achieve in reality.


Why is it instilling bias specifically? Is this because it's your team that comes out badly in this example?


Sounds like your news literacy deficiency is being unable to judge the relative importance of news stories, given your ridiculous examples.


In what way are they ridiculous?


Why should anyone care so much about Hunter Biden? It's not like Joe Biden filled his staff with his own children like Trump did. Hunter is just another shady businessman, not an elected official.

At the beginning, the lab leak "theory" was really just a baseless conspiracy theory since there was zero evidence of it. No wonder it was mostly racist right-wing media personalities pushing it.


That lab leak theory is the most amazing example of widespread bias on all sides I've ever seen.

We went from it being banned on Facebook to it having mainstream acceptance in like a week despite ZERO change in the underlying evidence. The evidence was always just "well there's a lab there". The only thing that changed was Trump isn't president anymore.

It's the perfect rorschach issue for underlying bias, free of any clearcut facts that might be evaluated neutrally.


I've always been of the opinion that a lab leak is certainly possible, but still very unlikely. It's been wild seeing this rollercoaster that is entirely based on media coverage without one shred of evidence either way.

Very disenchanted with the media over the last 5 years, and it did not used to be this bad.


The coverup with a man who authorized the funding for the lab being the only American on the WHO scientific panel investigating the lab was the smoking gun for me.

It really doesn't matter if it came from the lab or from the environment. The fact that they covered it up shows the lab was breaking protocols and they believed it could have been the lab that released the virus.

The lab needs to be shut down and similar labs shut as well to institute a major overhaul of the system.


Covered what up? It's not like the virus signed out at the front desk and they're hiding it. Nobody knows, there's no evidence to cover up.


They decided not to collect the evidence. Much more pressure could have been put on China to make the lab and its records available for review.


It's already been telegraphed wide and clear that there are a bunch of Western people dying to pin covid on China and that western media will give them airtime and print.

Why would China give them ammunition? Even if we assume that the virus didn't come from a lab, it's impossible to prove and handing over a bunch of raw data to a motivated actor has no upsides.


There was that scientist who said it wasn't a lab leak but it turns out he may have been paid by China.


May have! And how would he know anyways? He can't prove a negative.

If someone had collected US research grant money and went the other way would we call them 'paid by America'?

Like I said. The perfect rorschach issue.


>Are they going to do a section studying the "coverage" of hunter biden's laptop?

What exactly do you mean by this? Do you mean explaining how it was a giant ratfucking [1] shit-slinging fuckfest perpetrated by political animals? I don't think they ever really make their viewers aware of the fact that they're non-stop hounding a dude, who happens to be the child of a politician, that had to witness his mother and sister be literally crushed to death at a young age [2], while he too was being crushed to death. Gee, I can't imagine why somebody who had to live through that as a child might go on to live a slightly fucked up life.

I hope, that when discussing something such as "Hunter Bidens Laptop", they discuss the fact of how no coverage was given to conflicts of interest around a point like this regarding the other political party, such as the Trump Orgs fairly massive outstanding debts to China, the near infinite list of fucked up things Trump's children have gotten up to, disgusting facts such as when Trump offered to pay for a family members (child) cancer treatment, then took the money back because the parents did something to make him slightly mad, the fact he's had to pay prostitutes hundreds of thousands of dollars after being sued, going back to the fact he'd parroted donating the entirety of his salary to something charitable, and then... imagine this... actually didn't, lol.

But yes, of all the things and conflicts of interest that should be covered and reported on, surely "Hunter Bidens Laptop" is one of them. Man. Remember when people said "maybe it's not a good idea or very nice thing to do in having secret service members drive around a contagious Trump for a small self-serving driveby of a rally of supporters" that was reported by most reasonable news stations? Turned out they were right and one of said service members got so sick with COVID he had to have a leg amputated, and even with whatever insurance being a secret fucking service member entails, he's seriously struggling to afford care. I do not see any news stations bringing this back up though. Why isn't it reported on? This is something that should be discussed in any reasonable class they're attempting to create.

[1] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ratfucking

[2] https://www.biography.com/news/joe-biden-first-wife-daughter...


Well let's examine all the reasons you might suspect the silly Biden laptop story to have been planted by the GRU.

1: Rudy Giuliani is involved

2: Rudy Giuliani specifically traveled to Ukraine in 2019 to dig up dirt on Biden, a mission that he publicly announced.

3: Rudy Giuliani is the GRU's "useful idiot" according to a report prepared for the White House by US intelligence services.


Wait what? Number 3 doesn't ring a bell. Which report specifically? Was that the exact phrase?


Giuliani met[1] with Andriy Derkach[2] on his 2019 Ukraine trip. Derkach is the target of a long-running US counter-intelligence operation. In September 2020 the Treasury Department sanctioned[3] Derkach for his work against American interests on behalf of Russian intelligence services. Prior to the sanction, US national security adviser Robert O’Brien personally advised President Trump that Giuliani's information should be considered tainted by Russia[4].

1: https://www.rferl.org/a/ukrainian-lawmaker-says-he-met-trump...

2: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrii_Derkach

3: https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm1118

4: https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/giuliani-bi...


> Given the primary example used on the kids, the 2016 election, this seems more about instilling bias under the name "news literacy". Are they going to do a section studying the "coverage" of hunter biden's laptop?

I suppose you have to pick an example to work from and frankly, the 2016 election was the most noteworthy and groundbreaking disinformation campaign.

A teacher could certainly talk about the latter, but neither Hunter Biden's laptop and Lab Leak Theory have the bulk of documentation to point to.


This week, a story broke how Hunter Biden had yet another laptop stolen from him, this time with videos of him doing "crazy sex acts". [0]

Yet again, as in 2020, I was unable to share the link below in a private Facebook Messenger group. What else will be censored next, at the behest of the government?

I severely mistrust when the government tells you what and who to believe, and that includes our schools. Teach critical thinking, logic and fallacies, and leave it there - the students can make up their own minds.

[0] https://nypost.com/2021/08/11/video-reportedly-shows-nude-hu...


>I was unable to share the link below in a private Facebook Messenger group. What else will be censored next, at the behest of the government?

>Facebook Messenger group

>the government

Does.

Not.

Compute.

Error

However, I do applaud your silliness as "Facebook government" almost sounds slightly correct for some swath of people.


The Biden administration has openly admitted that they are working with Facebook to fight “disinformation”.

https://www.newsweek.com/biden-administrations-admission-the...


I don't think it's silliness; I actually find it quite concerning.

In recent times, there has been lots of evidence about how the government and social media companies have been colluding together to "prevent the spread of misinformation" [0]. They have been very transparent about this, and discuss it openly [1].

However, it must not be up to the government to determine what is or is not misinformation - this transposes to government censorship in the worst case, and prevents a healthy marketplace of ideas in the best case.

In the case of the "Hunter Biden Laptop" story (which was misrepresented often), it wasn't Facebook deciding on its own to censor it - it was at the behest of the government.

You don't know what you don't know. What knowledge are you missing because it could never be shown, because it wasn't shown to you? In the last few years, I've seriously worried about this. I've had to diversify my media intake as an attempt to mitigate this, even when the reporting itself was of worse quality in non-standard media channels. (In many cases, I found it to be of higher quality, which was surprising).

I would recommend the same to you, because, especially in this case, you won't know what you're missing unless you look for it.

[0]https://reclaimthenet.org/fb-cdc-misinfo-collusion/

[1]https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2021/07/15/psaki_wer...!


I'm sure you know this, but you're only being downvoted because they think you're making shit up. I, unfortunately know that you are not making this shit up.


You know that the government has Facebook's internal codebase backdoored and are able to push out new commits, and that they are explicitly doing so to censor the messenger system?

Wow, you could probably get a Pulitzer


They don't need access to the codebase to influence Facebook to censor information. You could just ask the social media companies to "block misinformation". There are sources in this thread showing the government admitting to doing that.


fwiw, I thought I was replying to the comment one level up from the one that I did.


Absolutely. This is somewhat similar to terms like "scientific creationism". It has nothing to do with science. From what I read in the article, this "news literacy" is more like pseudo-literacy, and similar to "scientific creationism", it lacks empirical support and cannot be meaningfully tested.


Please join the school board if you are so concerned. Schools have been teaching critical thinking when it comes to research topics for probably decades/hundreds of years. Remember primary sources? Remember conflicting sources and having to dig into why they were conflicting? Public school ain't perfect but I'd rather have kids know that there -is- bias, than do what you are suggesting which is....? nothign.


> Remember, for weeks it was cast as Russian propaganda

What was it, actually? I've lost track.

> will they discuss how at first the lab leak theory was discarded as "misinformation"?

If 50 or 100 years from now, we find out that aliens did in fact visit Roswell, NM, would we posthumously rehabilitate the UFO nuts and conspiracy theorists of today? Even if all their details were wrong?

It's possible to write the right answer on an exam through pure guesswork; that's why teachers say "show your work". It's possible to be a kook and say something that later turns out to be true. It's possible to call lab leak "misinformation" in 2020 but give it a bit more credence after new facts come to light. Especially when "lab leak" was being used as cover or deflection for incompetence and mismanagement of the pandemic response.


> Given the primary example used on the kids, the 2016 election, this seems more about instilling bias under the name "news literacy".

I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt on this, but their "punchline" conclusion was that "the video came from Russia". Sometimes if something isn't reported in certain countries because of bias it can be reported from other countries, even if the only reason they do so is to make that country look bad. It doesn't mean that the video was fake, or that it didn't show evidence of ballot stuffing.

I am not saying it was true, I haven't seen that particular video and I'm not one that pushes that particular idea and at this point I don't really care anymore. I'm just unimpressed if that's the reason they discounted it. They also talk about fossil fuel companies funding studies about climate change. While this can certainly be nefarious, it's also possible that they are the only ones motivated to study a particular aspect of climate change because no other groups will touch it because of politics.

"Look at the source" is only one piece of the puzzle. I think it's often sought after because it's a good way to dismiss something out of hand.

It would have been better, in my opinion, if they looked through the video and had the kids see if they can come up with other possible reasons for the actions they are seeing in the video other than "ballot stuffing", and then come up with ways they could try to validate those hypotheses and assign a "truthiness" rating to it. It doesn't matter who publishes a video if it's actually showing what it says its showing.


This is as comforting as hearing that schools are teaching religion.

You could have spared yourself that dig, it's beside the point and stupid.

The comparison with religion is actually good. In some countries religion is taught in school because religion is part of human culture, which is firmly within the bailiwick of school. So teachers teaching religion must be accredited by both the government (for competency) and by their religious authority (for adherence to dogma). That's good, because you know who they answer to, and since religious authorities are usually mainstream you won't get revolutionaries or apocalyptic types either.

But reading the news in school, it's like the Soviets teaching how to trust Prawda.


> So teachers teaching religion must be accredited by both the government (for competency) and by their religious authority (for adherence to dogma). That's good, because you know who they answer to, and since religious authorities are usually mainstream you won't get revolutionaries or apocalyptic types either.

Religious authorities have a long history of oppressing free thought, including questioning the authority or tenants of the religion, and rationality, such as science. I would not say they are usually 'mainstream', unless we circularly define mainstream as whatever the religion says.


First, the parts of religion that are a part of human culture are usually not religious at all. That’s what the “cultural Christian”, or “Christian atheist” means. What happens in schools in countries like Poland is a religious indoctrination, and usually focuses on promoting social pathologies, such as denying reproductive rights and spreading hate speech against minorities.

Second, again using Poland as an example, this is largely outside of government control: the state cedes all authority about this part of schooling to Church, and Church is free to choose whatever propagandists it likes.


> this seems more about instilling bias under the name "news literacy".

Media literacy classes have already been shown to turn some percentage of kids into nazis no matter how you teach them, so any particular bias that might be getting instilled probably doesn’t matter too much.

If you tell kids to “Go on YouTube and do your own research about the Jews,” then whatever the teacher thinks stops being relevant after about 30 seconds.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0I7FVyQCjNg


> Media literacy classes have already been shown to turn some percentage of kids into nazis

Quite a claim. Where has this been shown?


> If you tell kids to “Go on YouTube and do your own research ..."

That's not what is being taught, according to the article.


Of course it is. The entire premise of "media literacy" is that what the mainstream media is telling you might not be true, so you should do your own research.

Which of course is accurate, but at the same time a lot of people would be better off just blindly trusting the media.


The article says otherwise. Could you provide have evidence of your claims?

> The entire premise of "media literacy" is that what the mainstream media is telling you might not be true

For example, the class studied a video that spread on Facebook, not in the mainstream media, for misinformation.


> Could you provide have evidence of your claims?

Did you watch the Danah Boyd video I linked to? There aren't many better Internet ethnographers than her. Like I don't know if she's the absolute best person in her field, but she's pretty easily top 10.


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