Problem: as we’re bombarded daily by thousands of bits of digital information, how do we distinguish the accurate from the inaccurate?
That question was the focus of a seven-day “news literacy” workshop held last week at the Journalism and Media Studies Centre. The workshop was attended by 14 academics and educators from Hong Kong, China, Malaysia, Vietnam and Bhutan.
The workshop, which was developed by the JMSC and the Center for News Literacy at Stony Brook University’s School of Journalism in New York State, provided participants with techniques for teaching how to sift through the abundance of media content produced by the Internet and distinguish the legitimate from the problematic.
The workshop is based on the news literacy courses that Stony Brook has been offering in the United States since 2007. It was led by Richard Hornik, the Director of Overseas Partnership Programs for the Center for News Literacy; JMSC lecturer Masato Kajimoto, and Jean Hyun, a teaching assistant at the JMSC.
“Effectively the workshop is a course in critical thinking and how to analyze the news,” said Hornik, who helped develop the workshop with Kajimoto. “It gives participants a toolbox for evaluating the quality of information on the web, in an article, or on TV.”
Kajimoto said the workshop is a response to the historical changes currently taking place in news consumption, with people now getting news primarily from mobile devices and Internet websites.
“There are so many mistakes and hoaxes and errors and unverified news reporters out there because news now travels very fast, and news consumers demand information immediately,” he said. “Through programs like this workshop we are trying to tell the younger generation to step back and look at the news they are getting before accepting it as fact.”
The week included lectures on the principles of news literacy, including how technology amplifies the power of information, how to distinguish news from other types of information, and how to judge the quality of a news source.
There were also trips to the Foreign Correspondents Club of Hong Kong and CNN International, which gave the educators the chance to meet the journalists who provide much of the information available on the Internet.
Participants praised the workshop for demonstrating how to decode the news and give students tools to actively and intelligently engage the online world.
“It is very helpful for my research developing a curriculum for high school students to cultivate their awareness of news literacy, because news is an important channel for them to understand the world around them and participate in the digital world,” said Xu Wen, a research fellow doing media literacy education at the Communication University of China in Beijing.