Local Media Association to build events, content to support Google’s new MediaWise project

The Local Media Association, along with the Poynter Institute, will help power a new Google project called MediaWise to help middle and high school students become smarter consumers of news and information online.

As part of the project, Google is investing $3 million over two years in MediaWise, which will bring together experts from the LMA, the Stanford Graduate School of Education and Poynter. MediaWise will feature a curriculum to be taught in classrooms and a first-of-its-kind teen fact-checking initiative online. The project aims to reach a million students, with at least 50 percent coming from underserved or low-income communities.

At the center of the project is a body of research from the Stanford History Education Group (SHEG) that shows that despite being constantly online, the vast majority of teenagers are unable to correctly evaluate the credibility of online news and information. (Adults didn’t do much better, according to Stanford’s research). Over the next two years, Stanford will develop a new curriculum for use in schools to teach better information literacy and improve what it calls, “civic online reasoning.”

LMA’s role in the project will be to work with Poynter and Stanford to take the skills and knowledge of this project into communities through events, newspaper in education programs and news coverage. Over 2,800 newspapers, TV stations, radio stations and digital news sites are members of the Local Media Association across North America.

“Our role in this incredibly important project will be to help media companies talk to their communities about news literacy and help them understand what’s real and what’s not,” said Nancy Lane, President of LMA. “In today’s environment, facts are critical and helping communities across the country disseminate information accurately is so important.”

LMA will help media companies hold community meetings and events around news literacy, utilizing the research that will be developed through MediaWise. LMA will also work with media companies to develop Newspapers in Education content that teachers can use to help teach this material in the classroom.

Poynter will launch a fact-checking venture in which teens will work with professional journalists to sort out fact vs. fiction on the internet. Poynter’s fact-checking franchise, which includes the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) and Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact, will collaborate on the project, applying key findings that grew out of Stanford’s research on how teens consume news. The work of the teen fact-checkers to debunk misinformation will be presented on numerous online and social media platforms, and it will be heavily visual, including extensive use of graphics and other creative means to reach teens wherever they are consuming news.

The National Association for Media Literacy Education is also partnering in this project as a resource and to help with outreach to teachers, librarians and others who teach these skills. And several stars on YouTube — content creators with millions of followers — have committed to sharing this project with their audiences as well.

“At Google.org, we’re focused on developing the next generation of diverse technology creators but we know that coding skills or even digital savviness is not enough,” said Jacquelline Fuller, president of Google.org. “We are thrilled to be working with Poynter, Stanford and the Local Media Association to help equip young people with the skills they need to assess fact from fiction online.”

LMA is looking for local media companies to partner with on the educational events. If you are interested in learning more, please contact Lindsey Estes atLindsey.estes@localmedia.org.