The ability for our students to determine who and what to trust is critical literacy in a nutshell. Our focus on how to analyse texts has not changed. What has changed is the media landscape in our ‘post truth’ or ‘post fact’ world.
As Toby Manhire, editor of the New Zealand ‘The Spinoff’, states in his keynote to the NZ Association of Teachers of English conference, fake news is a terrible term and essentially it is used by most to define news people don’t like.
If our students cannot trust media outlets, politicians, broadcasters, then they should be taught to reject the language ‘fake news’ and instead categorize the ‘narratives’ told as either misinformation or disinformation. For they are different.
Misinformation: false information that is produced or shared innocently, without the intent to deceive.
Disinformation is false information that is produced or shared with the very purpose of deceiving.
Both will invoke emotional reactions in the reader, but taught to ‘read’ a headline, what an advert is, how to recognise rhetoric or an unreliable narrator, will enable the students to see the difference. Even aiming to strike a balance with texts from both global and local sources will seek to have a balance where national identity is not to be compromised by a global, (digital) perspective.