“Our goal should be that every American possesses the skills to discern news from infotainment, fact from opinion, and trustworthy information sources from untrustworthy,” Copps told publishers and editors of community publications attending the National Newspaper Association’s annual Government Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C.
“This is not an inconsequential challenge,” he said. “In an era when facts are scarce and opinions are abundant, it’s tough slogging to make sense of the barrage of information coming at us. For some, the easiest route is to pick the opinion narrative that best suits their ideologies, read nothing else, and just shout it from the rooftop.”
Copps then added, “Happily, there is good work being done on the literacy front. One example is the News Literacy Project that pairs secondary school students with active journalists who instill such skills as determining veracity, quantifying bias, and identifying the level of accountability.
“As its founder, Alan Miller, has said of the students he has encountered, `Most view all the information that appears on their screen as created equal.’ The Carnegie-Knight report ‘Young People and News’ also came to the conclusion that the respondents were ‘ill-equipped to process the hard news stories they encounter.’ There are other organizations and academics working on this issue, too. What we need is a way to get it to scale quickly,” he said.
The NNA’s stated mission is “to protect, promote and enhance America’s community newspapers,” which “inform, educate and entertain nearly 150 million readers every week.”