The problem of fake news came to a dizzying head in 2016 when a man fired a shot in a family pizzeria as he “self-investigated” a false report of a child abuse ring led by top democrats. A BuzzFeed report confirmed that fake news stories, such as the one that claimed Hillary Clinton sold arms to ISIS, were actually viewed more times than articles from established and legitimate news sources. Did fake news have an impact on the election? How do we address the problem from here? This lesson plan features a Channel One News report on the problem. Then, students analyze the problem and consider steps media outlets and individuals need to take to prevent the viral spread of propaganda.
Warm up: Ask students:
Words in the News: Review this word prior to viewing the video.
propaganda (noun): Information that is often exaggerated or false and spread for the purpose of benefiting or promoting a specific individual or cause.
Heard on the Air: “If we can’t discriminate between serious arguments and propaganda, then we have problems.”
Have students scan their social media newsfeeds to spot suspect articles. Then, have them use this checklist from the News Literacy Project, Ten Questions for Fake News Detection, to determine whether they’ve spotted an illegitimate news source.
Then, work with the whole class to create a list of sites that they evaluated. List the sites, and create columns for read, “liked,” or shared. Perform a class-wide survey to see how many times people read, “liked” or shared an article from each site.
Based on the results of the survey, ask students:
What impact do you think fake news had on the 2016 Presidential Election? What steps should the government, media outlets and individuals take to address the problem? Write an essay exploring the issue. Support your answer with evidence from the video, the class survey and your own experience.
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