Throughout this chapter, we have explored the ways that news has changed over time, how social media and the Internet have shifted creation and sharing, leading to an increase in disinformation. Disinformation can take many forms, but a potent example is false news. In addition to this, there are several online information sources, like blogs and podcasts, that may look like news, but aren’t.
A person who is media literate can read media critically and understand how its messages shape us and everything around us (Media Literacy Now, n.d.). Media literacy experts suggest that individuals should always evaluate what they are seeing, hearing or reading. Caulfield (n.d.) provides useful tools for evaluating news sources in the book Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers. Asking the following questions when looking at a news source is a good place to begin the journey to becoming media literate:
- What was the process for accuracy and corrections?
- Is the information sourced and verified?
- Does the outlet employ professional journalists?
- Is their mission to inform? (Caulfield, n.d.)
The next step in becoming fully media literate is to encourage change. What steps might an individual take to enact positive change? It could be as simple as a conversation about some of the issues discussed in this chapter to inform those in your social circle, or as involved as writing government officials about your concerns.