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newsToday is the News Literacy Project’s "Day of Action," #PartnersInFact, when it comes to sharing its tremendously important information.

The News Literacy Project is a not-for-profit founded 10 years ago by Alan Miller, a Pulitzer Prize-winner and former Los Angeles Times investigative journalist.  The organization takes a nonpartisan approach to news literacy education helping students – and now the general population – sort fact from fiction in the digital age.  Building this essential skill to help individuals appreciate the role of journalism – and be active citizens of a democracy, is the Project’s central goal.

The organization has seven simple steps to not getting fooled in what is actual fact:

How to see through “fake news”

  1. Check your emotions. What is your first reaction?  Are you angry?  Outraged? Excited? Misinformation often tries to hijack our rational minds with emotional appeals.
  2. Determine the purpose of what you are watching, reading or hearing. It is a news report? An opinion piece? An ad? Something else? And what do you know about the source?
  3. Be aware of your own biases. “Confirmation Bias” is real and it is dangerous.  Are you assuming (or even hoping) something is true or false, just because you believe that too -- because deep down inside, you WANT it to be true or false?
  4. Consider the message. Is it too “perfect?” Overtly or aggressive partisan? Does it use “loaded” language? It is filled with excessive punctuation or ALL CAPS? Does it claim to have a secret or claim to tell you something “they” (the media, the opposition party, etc.) don’t want you to know?
  5. Search for more information. Are other reputable news outlets reporting the same thing? Have independent fact-checkers contested or “debunked” this story or source? And can you trace it back to where the story first appeared?
  6. Go deeper on the source. Conduct research into who actually owns a website domain. Check associated social media channels to see what you can uncover – including about tone, followers and types of posts.
  7. Then go deeper on the content itself, including byline, date, key details, quotes, citations and image search/sourcing.
It’s time for all of us to test and sharpen our news literacy skills.  Our democracy deserves it.
Scott Hanson
Scott Hanson
President Scott is president of HMA Public Relations and a founding member of the Public Relations Global Network. He’s a Phoenix native, husband, father of two and a fan of all sports and a participant in some. Check out Scott's full bio

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