Why News and Social Media Literacy Matter

COVID-19 and the 2020 Election have created a perfect storm for mass amounts of misinformation online. We know that 95% of teens have smartphones and 45% report being online almost constantly. Every day they are encountering misinformation on their social feeds, and they do not have the digital strategies or critical thinking skills to parse fact from fiction.

And adults aren’t in better shape. New studies from thew Pew Research Center found:

Over the last three years, Theresa Walsh Giarrusso, a journalist with 26 years of experience, has been working with teachers, students and senior citizens on these important skills.

Giarrusso has taught in Montclair, North Arlington and South Plainfield districts. She was awarded multiple grants from the Montclair Fund for Educational Excellence to teach these skills to about 300 students in 7th to 10th grade during the 2019-2020 school year. The four high school classes taught completely online during the pandemic went from a D average to a high B average for a 32 percent improvement.

Giarrusso’s curriculum covers:

  • The 5 types of Misinformation.
  • History and motivation for misinformation.
  • Why the environment is so perfect now.
  • How to identify reliable sources.
  • Lateral Reading Technique.
  • SIFT.
  • How to fact checking sites and media bias sites,
  • Reverse image search and geolocation skills·
  • Deepfake & cheapfake video and misinformation worldwide.

Learn more about Giarrusso’s News and Social Media Literacy program in The Montclair Local: