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International Fact-Checking Day
is just the beginning


by Candace Perkins Bowen
It should be every day, but it hasn’t been. Do we always check that information we see and read is real? What are fake news, “alternative facts” or propaganda? How do we spot it?

Fake news has been around in many forms and for many years – from supermarket tabloids to “War of the Worlds,” H.G. Wells’ 1938 radio program that panicked thousands. But today the concern is growing, thanks, in part, to digital media that spreads information virally and often dramatically. How can we tell what to believe? Are “alternative truths” really possible? Or maybe we are victims of what author of “On Tryanny” Timothy Snyder says, “When we learn [information] from the screen,  we tend to be drawn in by the logic of spectacle.”

Because of this, the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida, partnering with fact-checking organizations worldwide, is promoting International Fact-Checking Day April 2, 2017.

As the website says, it’s “not a single event but a rallying cry for more facts — and fact-checking — in politics, journalism, and everyday life.”

The site includes a downloadable lesson plan and links to other sites with “how-to’s” such as spotting fake news, checking a politician’s claims and recognizing twitter handles who aren’t who they say they are. There’s also a trivia quiz noting popular political claims – but are they factual?

There’s a hoax-off and a map showing sites all over the world where others are celebrating International Fact-Checking Day.

This summer, JEA’s Press Rights Committee will create additional materials for teachers and students. Look for our lessons, activities, essays and resources  and more  by the start of school.



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