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Lesson Idea: Media Literacy and Fake News


In a world filled with rapid pace communication through a variety of platforms, we have an abundance of information available at our fingertips. Discerning fact from fiction can be complex. Knowing the source can be challenging, and the messages being delivered can be received in different ways, effecting certain populations of people as well as our country. View the videos in this lesson with your students to cultivate an understanding of media literacy and engage in a discussion about its impact and significance for the future.


Assign background reading from textbook or other appropriate source on Orson Welles and the "War of the Worlds" radio broadcast. As a class, view this video Broadcast Hysteria: Orson Welles' War of the Worlds and the Art of Fake News (4:00) to provide additional context. Discuss parallels between the time period of 1938 and present day.

STEP 2. 
Students may work independently or in groups to view the videos below and complete the chart on the handout.



  • "Fake News" Sites and Effects on Democracy (4:44)
    New York Magazine's Max Read discusses his piece examining the rise of “fake news” and whether the internet is a reliable tool for furthering democracy.
  • Clinton Watts on Fake News (8:45)
    Clint Watts talked about reports that a Russian propaganda effort is to blame for the prevalence of “fake” news during the 2016 election cycle.
  • Role of Media and Fake News (4:16)
    White House Communications Director Jen Psaki and Washington Post editor and columnist Ruth Marcus talk about the role of news and social media and the rise of fake new stories.
  • Satire vs Fake News (1:35)
    Cole Bolton and Chad Nackers talked about their satirical publication, The Onion, and the intent of political satire versus misinformation.

STEP 3. 
As a class, discuss how students can identify fake news and how it can possibly affect the public as well as our country.