By Mackenzie Wilson
Photo by: Mackenzie Wilson
UMSL held an event called “Slice and Verify” on Thursday, November 30th that was run by COMM 4100 Communication Campaigns, in addition to the Department of Communication & Media, the Department of Political Science, the student club, PRSSA, and 4Goals, where Johnathan Ahl from St. Louis Public Radio talked about the importance of knowing about and applying news literacy to every piece of information you receive. Jonathan Ahl is St. Louis Public Radio’s Interim Managing Editor and their Rolla Correspondent. He has his B.A. in Music Theory and Composition from Western Illinois University and an M.A. in Public Affairs Reporting from the University of Illinois at Springfield. He had some very interesting perspectives and stories showing just how important news literacy is.
“News literacy is the ability to determine the credibility of news and other information and to recognize the standards of fact-based journalism to know what to trust, share and act on.”- The News Literacy Project
The best way Johnathan could come up with a definition of news literacy is “What do you know and how do you know it?” You have to be able to differentiate where you got your news and why the outlet is telling you the news this way. Many sources of information have a bias, whether that source is your friend, someone on TV, the internet, even many news sources. Even the things we read and learn from reputable sources, might be wrong or strewed. It is up to us as the reader to check the sources and how they got the information and make sure it is correct. Many times things are presented as facts, but it is up to you to make sure it is true.
Jonathan Ahl had a great example of this and the new media we have today. He pulled up a video through YouTube Shorts that claimed to be an account that gives factual information about events in history. One of those facts was that the winner of the 1904 Olympics in St. Louis Marathon won by riding 11 miles in a car. If you had seen that video, you might have believed that and continued scrolling. This was from an account that gave facts about history right? Well, that fact was untrue. With some simple searching, you could see that Frederick Lorz was the first to cross the finish line, but he was disqualified and was in fact, not the winner of the Olympics.
It is easier now than ever to check simple facts like this out; we have the entire internet at our disposal. Jonathan Ahl gave some starter questions to get the ball rolling into checking sources and making sure the things you are reading or listening are giving not only facts, but all of them. Ask yourself: How did they get this information? Why are they presenting them this way? How do we know what we know? And always be critical of who gives you the news and what the news is. We have and should use all our tools that are at our disposal to validate the claims people are asking. He also recommended checking out the News Literacy Project for more information and tips about News Literacy.