Media literacy must be taught in schools

“Lies,” “false,” “untrue” and, famously, “wrong”  have been thrown back and forth between the Trump administration and the media since the campaign cycle for the 2016 presidential election began almost two years ago. When Trump’s campaign revolved around his unorthodox demeanor and candid language, he was just a candidate: He did not have legitimate power or accountability. Since taking office of the President of the United States, however, Trump has continued to dub major news outlets, including The New York Times, NBC and CNN, as “fake news.” The attack on the free press, which started out as almost comical in nature, has become a devastating issue threatening the values of the Constitution.

Only an informed and educated population can counter this assault on democracy. USC and other universities need to implement programs that foster media literacy and political awareness.

Trump’s portrayal of the media is not only appalling, but also — frankly — frightening. With today’s national political divide, Trump’s policies are under immense scrutiny from both sides of the political spectrum.

However, as the general public focuses on issues like Trump’s stance on the Affordable Care Act and his temporary immigration ban — which are, granted, issues with tremendous consequences — some of Trump’s other major power plays have gone unnoticed by the general populace.

Authoritarian tones saturate the statements and actions of the Trump administration. Trump has engaged in censorship by limiting the power of the free press and banning various outlets, such as CNN and The New York Times, from press conferences. By constantly tweeting that independent papers are “fake” and “wrong,” Trump uses his Twitter account as a platform for propaganda.

It is alarming that Trump calls media reports “fake” when there are confirmed sources and scientific data behind news articles. Though some argue that Trump is entitled to his own free speech, remember that he is not just a man sitting behind a computer screen. His words and actions hold power over millions of Americans and many countries. His words have real-world consequences, and his free speech ultimately serves to make himself more powerful.

Trump’s power shift holds our democracy as we know it at stake. An uneducated or wilfully ignorant populace is virtually a powder keg. Add in bias from social media and take away the independent free press, and there will be destruction. Trump and his administration have been called out for lying on numerous occasions, yet he has never personally admitted culpability. By not adhering to the truth, he casts doubt on the factuality of news. With enough reasonable suspicion, the population may choose to not believe in the press and defer to the tweets and reports of the executive branch.

This First Amendment problem is fixable, and could even be made irrelevant, if American citizens were educated using a variety of sources and taught from a young age to understand all sides of an issue. Education is the cornerstone for growing the United States into the great nation Trump campaigned on. Fostering an environment that stimulates students and offers ranging perspectives is integral to improving and unifying our country.

Teaching students how to think for themselves and understand those around them is something that all schools, especially universities, need to implement. At a time when constitutional rights are being questioned, political activism and diligent media are needed now more than ever — and among millennials in particular, as they will soon take the reins and assume responsibility for the future political climate.

High schools should encourage open classroom debate where students can share their thoughts. USC, and universities around the country,  need to ensure that all students are politically educated. Participation from all students in political classes should be mandatory. Arguing from the opposite point of view will develop students’ awareness of differing perspectives. Making news more accessible to students and offering higher student discounts to read online articles can improve political consciousness.

The future starts with educating young people today. The Constitution is what holds democracy together, and protecting our First Amendment rights need to be the utmost priority.

7 replies
  1. Thekatman
    Thekatman says:

    Career politicians got us in this mess. So you’re ok with career politicians who have acquired their multi millionaire status while in the employ of American citizens such as Pelosi, Reid , Schumer and others who have made millions while inoffice? Our founding fathers did not envision career politicians to run the country but private citizens to do so for a short term. Career politicians want you and I to live by their rules, yet they do not live by their own rules. Otherwise, you would be in favor of congressional term limits, eli m in a ting the federal gov healthcare plan and retirement plan and have them participate in the plans that Americans have to use.

    And what has President Trump done to stifle a free press? He has had more press conferences so far than any president in recent history. He just wants the press to report on the news, not issue op ed statements as a replacement for news. And when the press proves themselves to create fake news stories or not accurately report on news stories then you don’t allow them to play. Your DR has that policy. Your university has that policy.

    Freedom of speech works both ways, not just when it is agreeable by you. The effort by the Left to silence conservative speech is against the law and is gr I undo for creating a very hostile environment. Since when has that type of protest become the MO for today? On L y since the Democrats lost the election and we’re told by Americans that we are tired of their liberal tactics and ways to empower themselves over Americans. You talk about wanting to see both sides of the issues, but you, young people on todays college campuses, don’t allow it occur if you disagree with an opposing viewpoint. Why?

    • William Tocki
      William Tocki says:

      While I agree with you that as a country – we are in a bit of a rut. I don’t think that politicians are to blame, afterall – we the people are suppose to be the ones electing these politicians to office. I agree to some extent that government positions should follow the same fringe benefit plans that the rest of the American people use… but by that same token… would you be able to identify what your defined “Americans” use? As far as I know… it varies from person to person. There is no universal health policy plan. There is no universal retirement plan. If there were, there would be droves of people complaining that our country is now socialist. For what it’s worth – I am all for term limits.

      Well, I can think of at least two times in this administration where mass media was limited to invite only. I have also bared witness to almost all of the press conferences he and his staff have hosted, when they hear something they don’t like… they tell them to shut up – regardless of the content of the question. If the question angers president Trump, he brushes it away with labeling them as “fake”. Just because President Trump doesn’t like something, does not make it fake. Once he throws out that label, all of the loyal followers just reiterate it – with no care or cause to actually research the content or extent of the question. Mind you, I am not a fool – there are plenty of less than stellar media agencies out there, both left and right. I just don’t think any person, conservative or liberal, should jump on any bandwagon because of what 1 person says – regardless of his or her position of power. You are right, this University (USC) does have that policy… but we are a private BUSINESS. The government was never meant to run as a business – and it never should be. The government should be a congregation and representation of the nation/state/city, and not a business.

      I agree, freedom of speech is a two way street. That is how it should be – with all parties respecting the others. Making blanket statements and pointing fingers is doing little to actually help the issues we are facing. Your statement about the MO arising from the Democrats losing, is a fallacy. Conflicts have always arisen when dealing with human interactions. It is always the goal of one person or group to be correct. The evidence is written in any history book you can ever imagine. The future is told by those who win, the other group(s) are silenced. You did a very interesting thing in your last paragraph, you separated “liberals” from the word “Americans” as if they are two different stand alone things. They aren’t. Liberals are just as American as Conservatives and vice versa… that is what it means to be American… the option to express and live freely.

      Please don’t make this personal. You are lumping me into a category of “young people” as if that were a category I belong to. I am as angry as an “red blooded conservative” when anyone walks over and shuts other people down for their beliefs. After all… there are two sides to every coin… please don’t be the person on the red team, pointing fingers at the people on the blue team. We have enough of them, and it is my belief that THEY are the ones the got us “in this mess”.

  2. Thekatman
    Thekatman says:

    From a fellow patriot, Dexter Wilson

    Every one of President Trump’s choices for his cabinet have been very good. He has in effect restored integrity to the office. Obama was a student and follower of a atheist named Saul Alinsky. Saul Alinsky considered himself a student of Frank Nitti, Whom you students don’t know but he was the underling of Al Capone, the murderous gangster of Chicago, and hence the result of the corrupt politicians in Chicago and the state of Illinois. Also, Hillary Clinton said her mentor was Saul Alinsky and wrote her law school thesis on Alinksy. Now if you want to know more about Saul, I suggest that you get a Catholic produced documentary “A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing”. The Catholics sought after Alinsky as a Community Organizer and discovered the Socialist Communist that he was, an amoral individual. They also present evidence of the fact that liberals, progressives and Democrats love those names, but they were told to use those names instead of SOCIALIST and COMMUNIST by their leaders when these people started using these more “lovable” names. According the film they were told to do so by their socialist and communist leaders, Bella Dodd, Alexander Tracthenberg, and Norman Thomas.

    We have all heard Senator Chuck Schumer (NY-D) call Hillary an honorable person. Now tell me… when she destroyed court ordered evidence, ran a “pay for play” and money laundering scheme aka The Clinton Foundation and used her private server, contrary to federal law, that she is honorable?

    Schumer then calls a solid God loving Christian, Jeff Sessions, a liar and criminal who told the truth under oath unlike Hillary. That tells me that Schumer, a lawyer who know you are not to volunteer any more information than yea and nay under oath and knew that Sessions did not lie under oath, what does that make him . It makes him in reality a socialist or Communist who is amoral.

    As for Trump, he is like the everyman of America, much like the expectation of our founders that they wanted CITIZEN POLITICIANS in government who were not CAREER POLITICIANS like Leahy, Schumer, Feinstein, Pelosi and others who exemplify the category of AMORAL CAREER POLITICIANS. If you have been following the truth, many of these amoral newsmen (ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, CNN and some on Fox News, even after it was is still clear there has been no proof or evidence that there was a connection between Trump’s Administration and the Russians, they continue to imply there is a connection. Now we have seen and heard on national TV, Obama whisper in the ear of the number two man in the Kremlin, Medvedev… “Wait until the election is over so I will have more Flexibility” and God knows what he meant by that. We have seen that he has met with the Russian Ambassador in question 22 times, Schumer 20 times. Hillary was given millions by a Russian Backed Company to buy American Uranium Mines, even as far back as Ted Kennedy having met with a Russian Ambassador in 1983 to discuss methods of preventing President Reagan from a getting a second term. NOW TELL ME WHO HAS MORE CONNECTIONS WITH THE RUSSIANS THAN The Democrats?

    • William Tocki
      William Tocki says:

      I wanna live in the America you live in! Full of “everyman” billionaires. I can’t speak for our founders like you can, but I highly doubt they had our president in mind when they were devising our constitution.

      This article was about media literacy. However that seems to be lost on you, made apparent by your quick recital of your list of names and events all conveniently geared towards only one set of ideals.

      Then again, what the heck do I know. *shrug*

      • Thekatman
        Thekatman says:

        Media literacy? Kids today have no clue as to what that means. The media controls your thoughts, your words, your actions. This is why I brought up Trump, because he will not let the media determine the false narrative that they have been pushing for many years. Be happy you have a president that is not owned by any political party of donor. President Donald Trump gave up his career and his fortune to do what has been needed to be done for decades. He will either succeed of the US will no longer be the greatest country in world history, that has kept the peace since 1945.

        • William Tocki
          William Tocki says:

          With all due respect, I think that is what the article is trying to convey. That schools should teach people how to read and understand every angle of every form of media. Two sides to every coin type of thing.

          The media is a very powerful tool, and yes I do believe that some people take full advantage of that. However, President Trump denying the media (which is how the populous stays informed) the opportunity to represent or be witness to the happenings of our government, goes against the very basic liberties that our country values. Mr. Trump as a person is a phenomenal businessman, there is no denying that – but when it comes to being open and providing concrete evidence for his statements to the American people…again, he is a phenomenal businessman.

          Also, he did not give up his business or his fortune. He handed down his business to his children (that is hardly giving it up) and last I checked, he still owned quite a few pretty dwellings around the world, and I haven’t heard of him liquidating his bank account. He is still a billionaire, as is many of the cabinet members he pushed through. If you think that the American people are best served by the billionaires that have taken residence in the White House, then I suppose you are now living in your ideal America. I for one have a very hard time believing that all those business billionaires in the White House have the American people at the forefront of their agenda. They are after-all – billionaire businessmen/women. They did not line their bank accounts with the kindness they have shown to the American workers.

          Also, history has a funny way of repeating itself… this hasn’t been the first time that a country or civilization has claimed to be the “greatest”. For what it’s worth, saying that the US keeps the peace is not entirely accurate. We are not the only country who is tending to the conflicts of the world, we are of course a main player, but by no means the only one. Furthermore, we have had “career politicians” running the country since 1945… not loose cannon businessmen.

  3. ken brown
    ken brown says:

    How in the hell do you teach students to think for themselves without telling them how to think ? It’s something you find out on your own not from the leftwing Teachers union, and if your going to teach them how to think then the military should be allowed on campus to teach them how to ” think for themselves ” about the military service.

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