By Áine Kerr, Manager, Journalism Partnerships
In January, we announced the Facebook Journalism Project with the goal of establishing stronger ties between Facebook and the news industry through collaborations and partnerships. One of the goals of this effort is to figure out how — together with publishers and educators — we can equip people with the knowledge they need to be informed readers in the digital age.
This weekend, the Facebook Journalism Project will host the first in a series of working groups focused on news literacy with a variety of journalists, publishers, platforms, educators, academics, third-party organizations, start-ups and non-profits gathering at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism in Phoenix.
Efforts to combat misinformation require multiple short-term and long-term strategies. Facebook has already taken steps to help stop the spread of hoaxes, including adding ways for people to report them more easily, introducing new efforts to disrupt the financial incentives for spammers, and launching a program to work with third-party fact checking organizations that are signatories of Poynter’s International Fact Checking Code of Principles.
But we know there is more to do on and off our platform.
The meeting on news literacy comes at a time of cross-industry and cross-disciplinary reflection on how we can work together to offer news consumers the necessary skills, information and tools to be their own masters of debunking and fact checking. It comes at a time of renewed focus on how the industry can work together to help people interrogate the source and authenticity of content before undertaking informed sharing and civil engagement.
Many attending this weekend’s working group have been advocates for investment in news literacy for decades. For them, the arguments are well rehearsed but the mediums and opportunities for scale are new and the sense of urgency is palpable.
The News Literacy Working Group will work to find scaled solutions for helping people make smart content decisions with the ultimate goal of helping to create informed communities across the news ecosystem, not just on Facebook.
Because what publishers, journalists, platforms, educators, academics, librarians, brands, advertisers and many more have in common are communities. Those communities are not just static receivers of content. They themselves are publishers, eyewitnesses, fact checkers, critics, sources, analysts, debunkers, reviewers, researchers and examiners.
The term “news literacy” might seem abstract to some but it’s what publishers are doing every day when they think about design, engagement, value and purpose, interactivity, building trust and loyalty. News literacy is part of the bedrock of journalism.
As Professor Dan Gillmor of Arizona State University has stated, “It’s a wonderful thing to think about upgrading the journalism side, the supply side, but there hasn’t been nearly enough focus on the demand side — news literacy.”
With that delicate balancing act top of mind, this weekend’s action-oriented meeting presents an opportunity for some of the world’s most passionate advocates of news literacy initiatives to review past research, identify new research questions and assess projects for future funding.
To build a more informed community, we’re committed to helping people gain the necessary skills and knowledge to be responsible consumers, creators and sharers of media. This weekend marks another step in our effort to work with others to promote news literacy and help people make decisions about which sources to trust. And we look forward to future events in Berlin, London, Perugia and other locations over the coming weeks and months.