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The Check-In: Information and Media Literacy

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How do we get information about an event if we aren’t there to witness it? How do we know what the President of the United States said yesterday or what happened at a protest downtown if we weren’t there?

We know because others—usually journalists, but increasingly, fellow citizens—witness the events, and record them. This mediated filter is how we know about the world we’re in. We can’t use our plain old common sense to figure out what’s happening, or how we should vote, though we’d like to.

How we’re all getting our information—our media consumption habits—has become a critical factor in our democracy. Understanding the sources we get our news from and being able to analyze and judge the media we consume is so important in this time we’re living in. 

We know there’s dis-information out there, it’s actually become a weapon used by other countries against the United States. We also know that all of us, no matter how savvy we are, prefer to hear viewpoints and frames for stories in ways we already agree with. All of this makes it a challenge for us to get on the same page and function, and vote, from the same set of facts and similar pictures about our world.

So how do we get our information now, and how do we know who to trust?

Our guest: Julie Smith, professor of communications and journalism at Webster University, who researches and teaches about media literacy—or, how and where we get our information.

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