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Saturday, November 26, 2022

Opinion

News literacy needs to improve in adults


Iqra Rafey/The Cougar

Iqra Rafey/The Cougar

News literacy is important now more than ever, but the public is still unable to master the skill. 

Only nine percent of adults can decipher if a news organization does its own reporting and less than a quarter could not pick one source out of six that does its own reporting. 

When questioning high school students on the credibility of an unreliable source, 96 percent of students failed to do so. 

These numbers are concerning for a generation that has moved from printed news to digital news.

More than 80 percent of Americans get their news from digital sources and over half of teens get their sources specifically from social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Teens also find it important for them to stay up to date on the news. 

With these numbers, the public does care about the news but the way they are accessing it could hurt them rather than help them. 

Digital news moves at a faster pace which has the risk of spreading rumors, unreliable narratives and unchecked facts. 

Digital cookies also play a part in saving your information to continue showing you the same content which then increases bias. 

Even Google’s own search engine has been called out for its own gender bias when users search up occupations and they display male-oriented results. 

Accessing accurate and reliable news has gotten harder but there are ways to stay mindful and critical of the consumption of media. 

The main key to preventing the flow of inaccurate information is to look at more than one source. If the New York Times writes an article on a Supreme Court case, double-check the information with the Washington Post or the Houston Chronicle

Heading to the official White House website is also a valid resource to check your sources. 

Another way to increase your news literacy is to view every news article through a critical lens. 

This does not mean to disregard every news source that comes your way but to pause and mentally ask where the source was published, who wrote it,  and how it compares to other news media. 

News literacy is a skill that gets better with practice and although it might seem like a handful to go through these steps whenever you are consuming news, it creates the skills necessary to make sure you are not spreading the wrong information to yourself and others. 

With the upcoming elections and the increase of news sources, it is important to know where your news is coming from and which outlets are reliable. 

More likely than not, the one news article that pops up on your Twitter timeline will not have all the facts. 

Cindy Rivas Alfaro is a journalism sophomore who can be reached at [email protected]

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