- Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon and owner of the Washington Post is donating $250,000 to the News Literacy Project, a non-profit organization that helps educate middle and high school students about how to separate fact from opinion in media reports, Education Week reports.
- Bezos sees the donation as a part of a long-term strategy to help students learn to appreciate high-quality news.
- The need for media literacy has grown since the rise of strongly partisan news sites have contributed to the eroding of the line between true journalism and political commentary, the article says.
Media matters more than ever in the lives of students and adults as influencers from every sector of society seek to sway voters and buyers. With the growth of the internet, the normal safeguards and standards for responsible journalism have flown out the window on many unregulated and unedited media sites that distribute fake news for fun and profit. Educators have recognized the growing importance of media literacy in recent years. In fact, Education Dive selected it as the “Obsession of the Year” for 2017.
The challenges are likely to grow as some legislative attempts to bar fake news are unlikely to pass constitutional protections of free speech. However, former Democratic California State Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez—now a U.S. representative—proposed state legislation last year that would—if passed—require educators to teach “civic online reasoning” in schools as a part of media literacy. The bill (AB-155), which is currently in committee, makes several excellent points regarding media literacy that may be a guide for other states to pursue future legislation regarding the issue. These points, from the text of the bill, include that while media and technology have great promise for learning, young people need support and education to make sound judgments when navigating the digital world and that schools can play a critical role by educating, empowering and engaging students with best practices around media use.