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Media Matters

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Media Matters

Amplify Blog

QFCC Youth Advocate Bri discusses 'fake news' and how to avoid media disinformation.


It’s Media Literacy Week, a global occasion by UNESCO which aims to create awareness of and counter misinformation in the media. I’ve been preparing for this all term, since my Grade 8s are currently learning about what ‘fake news’ is and how not to fall for it! It’s an great topic, because even though most people roll their eyes at English (what’s the point of analysing Macbeth in the real world anyway?) this is one of those examples of practical knowledge with tangible outcomes for learners.

The start of Media Literacy Week also coincides with the close of the week of silence requested by Indigenous leaders following the monumental, and disastrous, Voice to Parliament referendum. I’d like to acknowledge in this writing that I live on stolen land, where sovereignty was never ceded, and am privileged to have grown, learnt, worked and enjoyed the beauty of this country and these lands all my life. The coinciding of these two events leads me to reflect on the crucial and influential role that the media plays in the governance of this country and these lands and that everybody is impacted by this.

We encounter media every day, through television, radio, papers and, mostly, the internet. The internet plays a significant role in helping us form our opinions – we can connect with a large social group and easily follow news sites to keep us informed, even through a quick glance on our daily timeline scroll. However, the internet also allows more people to broadcast ‘news’ more regularly. For example, I saw many ‘friends’ share their views on the Voice to Parliament, including some which were uninformed and fearmongering, parroting the baseless rumours shared through disreputable news sources.

While it’s great to have the chance to share our opinions, the internet fosters the spread of unreliable, even harmful, information and if it’s our friends sharing that it can start to influence our own feelings about a topic too. So, tip number 1: don’t just go along with what your friends say because you like them – everyone is wrong sometimes and it’s best to check the facts yourself from some credible and reliable sources, instead of relying just on what someone online said.

Even though we’ve just finished one vote, I’m already noticing how political parties are gearing up for the next one! There’s no rest for the wicked, they say. 😉 Next year, Queenslanders will vote on the local candidates they choose to represent them in State parliament.

If you’re getting close to voting age, it can be difficult to tell who to choose when there is so much competing media coverage about all the candidates. Tip 2: If you’re voting in an election, don’t fall for spin media – take your time to visit the campaign websites and review the policies of the candidates in your area so you know who has the same priorities you do for the community.

Although it’s easy to fall for fake news, there are many ways to be more media literate. The ABC has a wealth of resources available online to help young people become more aware of the media they’re consuming and how to use media in a mindful way. Now, it’s important to note that even though all media has a risk of being biased and sharing misinformation, there are some media sources that are more reliable than others.

It’s important to engage with the news, not only so you know how to tell the real information from the dis and misinformation, but also because the news gives you important details on what is happening in your community. This can include the good things, like community achievements, local events, and the weather. But it can also include some more difficult things like current affairs, emergency information, and the weather. It’s important to be aware of local, state and nationwide issues that affect us, especially if we want to become unaffected by these problems! Staying connected – with our friends and family, the community, the country and the news – is one way to achieve that!