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Can we stop fake news? California students will soon try to do just that

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As the digital world grows every day, California is trying to combat the inevitable surge of misinformation through an unconventional approach: media-literacy curriculum for all K – 12 students.

In October 2023, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 873 in an effort to teach students how to recognize reliable sources online. Starting in 2024, rather than being an actual class, these media-literacy lessons are incorporated into classes such as history, English and language arts, science, and even math.

In order to see the impact that these media-literacy classes will have on students, it’s important to know if students understand the necessity of the topic. 

For example, Kasra Kashkoli, a senior at Mira Loma High School, views fake news as a growing problem. 

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“I believe that fake news is particularly prevalent in modern journalism, especially when covering controversial topics,” Kashkoli said. “As can be seen with current coverage of geopolitical conflicts around the world.”

Kashkoli continued by outlining the value of this curriculum framework that would help benefit students.

“I find that most fake news is presented as misinterpretations and misrepresentations of statistical data,” he said. “I don’t find there to be any particular drawbacks to education in statistics but I do believe that students should also learn about current events and the modern political landscape to ensure an accurate understanding of what is being presented in media.”

English teacher Keith Carmona at Mira Loma also agrees that fake news is an ever growing issue.

Fake news is a problem because anyone with a mic or a phone can propagate a story without repercussions, whereas journalistic publications need to publish corrections or retractions if they get information wrong,” Carmona said.

Carmona continued by highlighting that this problem isn’t just present in one area but rather multiple, increasing the necessity of these classes.

 “I think a class to help students identify and filter out legitimate factual stories from the propaganda and provocateurs would be a huge step in creating an intelligent and informed society in the digital information age,” he said. “Digging deeper into the sources of information is an important skill regardless of the medium.”

Professor Molly Dugan of Sacramento State University emphasized the bill’s importance in this day in age. 

“Media literacy is extremely important, and it’s becoming more important all the time,” Dugan said. “It’s incumbent on the media consumer, oftentimes, to determine the veracity of information. It used to be something in, you know, the pre-internet days that you could kind of trust your local newspaper, your local TV station to vet information for you; now, because there’s the information is so vast we have so much access, it’s really the responsibility of the media consumer to do it.”

Dugan continued by outlining how this class should serve to benefit students in not just identifying fake news but also becoming more informed citizens who can create a positive environment.

“I think the first thing is to make sure that as they put this this burden on teachers – not necessarily a burden, that’s probably the wrong word to use – but as they put this requirement on teachers, that they make sure to train teachers in media literacy, teachers themselves, and to make sure that teachers are aware they have a lot of support with ideas for active learning,” Dugan said.

While the media literacy bill seems to incorporate positive aspects for students, Dugan did point out a potential concern that should be addressed.

“I think the first thing is to make sure that as they put this this burden on teachers – not necessarily a burden, that’s probably the wrong word to use – but as they put this requirement on teachers, that they make sure to train teachers in media literacy, teachers themselves, and to make sure that teachers are aware they have a lot of support with ideas for active learning, like some of those things that you mentioned,” Dugan said. 

Dugan concluded by stating what needs to be done in order to make this bill a success for everyone.

“I think that in order to make sure that every public school student in California is getting a good education in media literacy,” Dugan said, “it’s important to make sure that the teachers are getting the resources that they need to do that.”

 

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About the Contributor
Rishi Upadhyay
Rishi Upadhyay, Reporter
Hello! My name is Rishi Upadhyay, and I am currently a senior at Mira Loma High School. I enjoy reading, writing, playing the piano, and traveling. I love being near the ocean, and my favorite place to visit is Hawaii.
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