Can you separate fact from fiction?


Step 1

The words and phrases below will appear in the text. Use the various Quizlet study modes to get used to the words. Enjoy!

Step 2

Read the text and answer the questions. Remember to write down the Code Word in your booklet. Good luck!

In 2014, Americans spent 7.4 hours a day consuming media on the Internet. They weren’t in the lead. According to market-research firm GlobalWebIndex, Filipinos won that award, by spending 9.6 hours a day accessing the Internet from their desktops, laptops and mobile devices. This increased consumption of online information by people everywhere underscores the need for media literacy.

What is media literacy?

Whether online, on television or in newspapers, people are bombarded with messages. Media literacy is about understanding how and why messages such as these social justice campaigns are being communicated. It starts with asking the right questions: Who created this message? What words or images are used in this message and why? How is this message supposed to make me feel?
The need for media literacy grows as messages become more frequent and complex. (Travis Ruse/Wikimedia Commons)

Why is media literacy important?

Media literacy teaches you to think critically about the information you consume. These skills — asking relevant questions, exploring multiple viewpoints, making novel connections — aren’t just important in the living room, or wherever else you might watch television or check a smartphone. Critical thinking helps you do well in many pursuits, whether in the classroom or the boardroom. The Center for Media Literacy has identified five more reasons to understand today’s media-soaked environment:
  1. You need two skills to be engaged citizens of a democracy: critical thinking and self-expression. Media literacy instills both.
  2. You are exposed to more media messages in one day than previous generations were exposed to in a year. Media literacy teaches you the skills to navigate safely through these messages.
  3. Media exerts a significant impact on the way we understand, interpret and act. Media literacy helps you understand outside influences and empowers you to make better decisions.
  4. The world is increasingly influenced by visual images. Learning how to “read” through layers of image-based communication is just as necessary as learning to analyze text-based communication.
  5. Media literacy helps you understand where information comes from, whose interests may be being served and how to find alternative views.
The first step to media literacy is to ask the right questions. (Pabak Sarkar/Flickr)

How can I become media literate?

Examine what you read, watch and hear. By doing this often, you’ll become more aware of its purpose and better able to separate fact from fiction. For in-depth resources about media literacy, visit the Center for Media Literacy’s online reading room and the National Association for Media Literacy Education’s resource hub. https://share.america.gov/can-you-separate-fact-from-fiction/

Step 3

Ask and answer the following questions with a partner or small group.

  1. When you watch the news, are you interested in the story or the newscaster who presents it?
  2. Do you think journalists tell the truth when they write?
  3. Do you think journalists add more information to make the story interesting?
  4. Do you believe journalists exaggerate what they write about?
  5. Do you believe that journalists write stories so they can be important and noticed on television/magazines/newspapers etc?
  6. Do you trust the information you get from the news?
  7. If you are someone who usually follows the news, has there been a time when you decided to stop? Why and for how long?
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