Media literacy tips shared at event

Kaleia Lawrence, Editor in Chief

While social media can be exciting and fun, it can be deadly too. News can heavily influence decisions that people make throughout their life regarding all sorts of things: who they vote for, if they get vaccinated, and how they feel about other people. 

Misinformation that is circulated can be helpful or harmful.  

On Oct. 5, a Poynter University correspondent of the MediaWise Program talked about how to consume media with a critical lens. The program was founded in 2020 and is a part of Poynter Institute.   

MediaWise’s main goal this year is to help debunk vaccine misinformation spread online. Their goal isn’t to convince people about how to feel about the vaccine, but rather to teach them how to consume media in a critical way.  

The meeting was held as a  hybrid, some attended at Truax and others joined via Teams. Lauren Brown, a senior at Oregon University, led the conversation.  

Brown stressed that double checking information is crucial, especially when the information is sensitive. One example was shown of a viral TikTok that said there were random people running around Los Angeles administering the vaccine to anyone they saw. Brown then walked through the steps of how to find out if it was a factual story.  

Some of the steps she took was googling keywords to see if related stories showed up and looking at fact check sites to determine whether the story was true or false. The story was deemed false.  

Another method that Brown demonstrated was examining the news source to determine its legitimacy. 

This can be seeing if the story lines up with journalistic standards in the way it’s written, finding out who wrote the story or seeing who owns the company that posted the information.  

The example given showed a flight attendant who claimed he had to duct tape an unruly passenger to the seat. While many shared the video as if it was legitimate, a quick look into the source showed that the “flight attendant” was actually a comedian.  

Misinformation can be shared for a variety of reasons, but money and clout are some of the main reasons for it. It’s important to read laterally and upstream, emphasized Brown. 

Reading laterally is when there are multiple tabs open all regarding the same topic while reading upstream is following the original post to find the source of the information.