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Media Literacy, Skepticism, And Pushing Back Against Unfounded Claims Essential To Modern Discourse

Clint Patterson

The dirge of propaganda, half-truths, and lies seems to be normalized, from the White House podium to your online chat page. But there are ways to counter this problem.

Damian Radcliffe of the University of Oregon said this past election cycle saw lots of questionable claims and rumors, ranging from Hunter Biden’s laptop to purported emailed threats from the Proud Boys.

“From my perspective that’s why media literacy skills, pushing back on conspiracy theories, and continuing to shine a light on the importance of tech platforms and the work that they’re doing…those are all really vital things that we need to be doing moving forward,” said Radcliffe.

Besides individuals developing a healthy skepticism, media has also gotten its stride in handling misinformation. This includes President Trump’s remarks on COVID-19 and mail-in ballots.

Credit The White House / Flickr.com/U.S. Govt Work/Public Domain
Flickr.com/U.S. Govt Work/Public Domain
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany at a September 2020 briefing. Recently, FOX News caused an uproar among many of its viewers when it cut away from her as she doubled-down on unfounded claims by President Trump that he was the victim of voter fraud after challenger Joe Biden's victory in the presidential race.

“So we’ve seen major networks being more willing to cut away from the president speaking, and also to be more forthright in the corrections that they’ve offered," continued Radcliffe. 

"Four to five years down the line, it’s as if they’re finally starting to get a handle on how push back against misleading information.”

Worldwide, fact-checking organizations have also increased, by 200 percent in the last four years.

Copyright 2020, KLCC.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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