Renée Loth’s question (“Why do so many believe fake news?” Opinion, Oct. 31) is an important one, but there are examples much closer to home than the one she found in Italy of educators helping young people learn to question the media. All across the United States, more and more teachers, supported by organizations such as Media Literacy Now and school administrators who understand the importance of helping today’s students use the media thoughtfully, are incorporating media literacy or digital citizenship units into existing courses or teaching media literacy as a stand-alone class.
In addition to learning how to distinguish fake news from factual reporting, media literacy students benefit from studying informative, thought-provoking, and even inspiring films, TV shows, websites, and print media. Film critic Roger Ebert once called the movies “a machine for generating empathy.” By carefully examining the multiple perspectives provided by media of all kinds, students can gain not only empathy, but also the intellectual flexibility they need to make informed decisions and engage in the respectful, open-minded discourse our country needs now more than ever.
The writer teaches media literacy at Swampscott High School.