BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — News literacy has never been more important with many of Americans getting their news all day long on a smartphone social media app.
We know you demand accuracy. We know balance is important to our news consuming audience. We know you are looking for more in-depth information — the story behind the headline.
7 Eyewitness News is kicking off a week-long series on the topic. News literacy is about build trust and weeding out fake news.
“I’ve often said that consistency is the most important thing,” remarked Brian Meyer.
Meyer is a communications adjunct professor and teaches a media literacy course at SUNY Buffalo State.
“Is it possible Elvis is still alive, what about Walt Disney's body — is it frozen waiting to be revived,” commented Brian Meyer.
Those are some of the examples Meyer uses to teach students in his class.
Meyer is a former radio and Buffalo News journalist with years of experience in vetting out news sources.
Meyer said he can trace back the term 'fake news' well before Donald Trump and show's students a photo of former President Harry S. Truman holding up a newspaper with an incorrect election headline.
“That famous photo of Harry S. Truman — holding a Chicago Daily — that states ‘Dewey Defeats Truman’ — and I say that's fake news folks. That paper banner headline is fake new and fake news goes even earlier then the 40’s,” remarked Meyer.
Maggie Tripp of Hamburg is one of Meyer's students. Students are asked where do they get their news.
“I still get my news from social media,” answered Tripp.
“Are you concerned it's reliable and accurate?” asked Buckley. “Yes, especially after taking my media literacy class,” replied Tripp.
Meyer works with students to learn how to determine fact from fiction.
"How many of you have shared something on your platforms — where you only read the headline and the first sentence," Meyer stated. “How to recognize digital disinformation — what fake news may look like and why we’re the front line of defense against it."
“On social media — you never know what's real or what someone just wants to get views,” Tripp remarked.
Tripp said she now double checks for the truth, especially with national stories.
And it's not just about national and world-wide, but most importantly about your own community — to stay informed, to stay safe and to be connected.
“What's big for me is local news — because if you know what's going on in your back yard — you can kind of figure out what's going on nationally,” stated Santia Myles of Niagara Falls.
Myles is also a Buffalo State student majoring in communications.
Myles said she uses a ‘News Break’ App that offers several news sources.
“And then I watch CNN, I watch Fox, I watch them all — just so I can hear every side and then kind of figure out what's real — what's not,” explained Myles.
Research shows there's a growing perception that even local news is biased, an agenda amplified by former President Trump.
“These are illegitimate sources of news,” declared Susan Banks.
Banks was a long-time journalist in Buffalo. She is also a former 7 Eyewitness News anchor.
Banks said a lot of people are “angry and afraid”, feeding into unreliable sources for news and information.
"Certainly, we saw that on January 6 that a lot of people were grossly misinformed — that had a terrible — terribly skewed view of what had happened with our election,” responded Banks.
Banks said in looking for balanced and unbiased news, search for credible sources and not what someone is Tweeting out or posting on Facebook.
“It’s a little scary — the fact that you see something on Twitter or Facebook — for heaven sake — it’s not necessary true,” described Banks.
“When I see something — that’s really cool — I should check that first,” Tripp said.
“And they go through the media and go through sources and then start seeing some of the disinformation out there and weighing sources,” suggested Meyer.