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News Literacy: Vetting fact from fiction in the classroom

"You need to establish truth from fiction"
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Posted at 6:39 PM, Jan 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-26 18:39:31-05

ALDEN, NY (WKBW) — A majority of high school students say they get their daily news from social media and apps, but in the classroom new generations are being taught how to vet fact from fiction.

Inside an Alden High School is where we found students are learning the importance of news literacy, from a former journalist.

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Alden High School students learning about news literacy.

“With the tools you need to establish truth from fiction,” replied Colin Dabkowski, teacher, Alden High School.

Alden High School students are learning the best way to check facts in a story and to figure out if it is real or fake.

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Colin Dabkowski, teacher, Alden High School.

“The sniff test, as it were, is changing everyday because the media landscape is changing,” described Dabkowski.

The Alden teacher says teaching news literacy is now more important than ever.

“We’re seeing an assault on truth from many different directions — a redefinition of what a fact is,” remarked Dabkowski.

Dabkowski is an English and Multi-Media teacher, who is also a former reporter with the Buffalo News.

He's teaching students how to find reliable and trustworthy news sources.

“Was it written by a real human being? Does it have more than one source? Is it highly opinionated or is it a least attempting to be objective or aiming for objectivity?” described Dabkowski.

“We’re learning how to identify fake news, which is really important in this day and age,” reflected Faith Moch, student.

Freshman Moch says she and other students use social media platforms to get their news, but this class is learning about other sources.

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Faith Moch, student.

“I did load a couple of news apps after this class that I look at everyday now, just to check to see what's happening — because that's kind of what I do, everyday now,” Moch said.

Alden High School Library Media Specialist Ann Sobol also focuses on news literacy. She says her big goal is to make sure students know how to recognize a good source.

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Alden High School Library Media Specialist Ann Sobol.

“Who is the source? What do other sources say about that source? What is their evidence? What do other sources say about that topic or story?” Ann Sobol responded.

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Nolan McCaffrey, freshman.

“I’ve learned not to trust websites from just looking at them. I’ve learned to look deeper into the websites,” noted Nolan McCaffrey.

Freshman McCaffrey says it's one of his favorite classes as he is learning to watch for disinformation, something his teacher is stressing.

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Alden High School students.

“A lie travels all the way around the earth, while the truth is putting its shoes on,” Dabkowski stated.

The Alden educator say he believes news literacy is the most “important issue of our times”.