WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. (WIVB)- Williamsville South High School students received a crash course in spotting fake news this winter.
“One of my goals for students when they leave here is to be educated citizens,” said Lesley Battaglia, who teaches AP Government and Politics.
Mrs. Battaglia said part of that, is shaping voters who cast ballots based on facts.
Part of her curriculum through the district includes media literacy; this year, she used tools from C-SPAN to help train her students how to consume only legitimate news.
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Senior Andrew Clabo told News 4 he was surprised how often fake news is accepted as fact.
“I definitely noticed there was a lot of just kind of, not even fake news, more or less just fake information being spread around. But I didn’t know to extent that it was really being re-posted, widely believed,” he said.
Clabo also noticed a lot of false reports were frequently shared on social media platforms like Twitter, something he said makes him nervous.
Battaglia is arming her students with a powerful weapon; in December, they learned how trace information back to original sources, and what to look for in a legitimately news report.
“They actually this year, follow the election from September all the way through to April. So they are following the election, the transfer of power, and then the first 100 days of the new administration,” Battaglia said of her students’ year-long project.
Senior Katie Peter writes for the school paper. For her, the class is also a reminder of the responsibility of the press.
“We’ve made sure that we are credible in our sources and we’re citing our sources, and I think it’s something that you sort of have to learn,” she said.
Debunking the fake and finding the real is a vital skill. Battaglia said if voters learn it in the classroom, there’s reason to be optimistic for a more informed electorate.