News Literacy a ‘Core Competency’

Journalism professor Sissel McCarthy made the case that news literacy is a must-have core competency for all students at the CUNY IT Conference at John Jay College last week.

Sissel McCarthyIn her talk, “How to Spot Fake News and Stay News Literate: A New Core Competency”, McCarthy told the audience about a Pew Research study earlier this year that shows  seven in ten people have news fatigue and feel overwhelmed by the amount of news they encounter on their digital devices.

New technologies that make it possible and profitable to spread misinformation are another challenge facing the public.

“This new digital landscape that we discussed in so many great sessions at the conference demands a new kind of literacy — a literacy that empowers consumers to determine for themselves if information is credible.”

McCarthy says the antidote to this information overload and misinformation online is news literacy: the ability to use critical thinking skills to judge the reliability and credibility of news reports on any platform.

After she outlined the key themes of the course, McCarthy urged people in the audience to do their part as both consumers and producers of news by determining for themselves what’s credible and only sharing information they have already vetted.