Today wraps up the second annual National News Literacy Week. It’s an opportunity to test your awareness of what’s news and what isn’t – so if keeping up with the news were a quiz, how well do you think you’d do?
The News Literacy Project in partnership with the E.W. Scripps Co. – yes, the spelling bee sponsor – are again teaming up to launch a national public awareness campaign to promote news literacy and the role of a free press in American democracy.
The role of the press is especially important as a new president takes office and installs a slew of federal appointees. It’s up to us news organizations to help you, the taxpayer, keep your elected officials accountable, and that starts with having the most accurate information you can about what they’re up to with your tax dollars.
But how can you tell that what you’re seeing is accurate information? That’s what news literacy is about. Regular literacy is knowing how to read and write competently. News literacy, likewise, is knowing how to identify what’s true in a world where a lot of so-called information is misinformation.
“The corrosive threat of misinformation now permeates every aspect of our civic life,” Alan C. Miller, founder and CEO of the News Literacy Project, said in a press release. “We’ve seen it surge in the past year around the global pandemic, racial justice protests and during the presidential election. As the violent assault on the U.S. Capitol demonstrated, this contagion of viral rumors and conspiracy theories can have deadly consequences. It’s time to confront this rising tide that threatens our democracy. Together, we must take personal responsibility for the news and other information we consume and spread to assure a future founded on facts.”
This year, the News Literacy Project made an online quiz to help you hone your news literacy skills. It tests your ability to discern misinformation from good information, and it starts by asking which version of the quiz you want – one with misinformation directed at those with liberal political leanings, or one with misinformation directed at those with conservative leanings. Then it shows seven social media posts and lets you decide how you would respond to each, followed by a quick explanation of how each post represents solid facts or questionable assertions and what you can do to find good information and protect yourself from misinformation in the future.
At the end, you can choose to take the quiz again if you’d like to see the other version of it. You might find a surprise or two – some posts show up in both versions, and the tips to finding truth and avoiding falsehood are the same no matter your political leanings.
The quiz is like a blood pressure check – a way to gauge your news literacy health, rather than something you have to pass. So check it out at NewsLiteracyWeek.org and find a friend or two to talk about the news literacy tips the quiz incorporates.