Fighting Fake News

How a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist is helping students separate truth from fiction in Montgomery County and beyond.



(page 1 of 4)


Bethesda resident Alan Miller, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, created the News Literacy Project to help students separate fact from fiction in the news they consume. Photo by Skip Brown

As teachers gathered in Washington, D.C., last December, just over three weeks after Donald Trump won the presidential election, “fake news” was on their minds. A month earlier, BuzzFeed had broken a story that teens in Macedonia were earning thousands of dollars a month in ad revenue by filling the internet with false pro-Trump stories that spread like an oil spill across social media.

As companies like Facebook and Google grappled with how to respond, the viral lies kept coming. On Sunday, Dec. 4, the closing day for these educators at the National Council for the Social Studies annual convention, fake news made real news again. Five miles from the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, a North Carolina man fired a gun inside Comet Ping Pong in Upper Northwest D.C., claiming he was “self-investigating” a rumor that the pizzeria was at the center of a bizarre child sex trafficking ring tied to Democratic Party leaders.

At the conference, Bethesda resident Alan Miller could tell that educators were focused on fake news like never before. In 2008, he established the News Literacy Project (NLP), a nonprofit dedicated to teaching middle and high school students to separate truth from fiction in what they saw and read. “Fake news” hadn’t entered the American lexicon. For the past few years, the organization had set up a booth at the conference, and while Miller had seen interest grow, he’d never seen this kind of enthusiasm.

“We had a lot of educators coming up to us and saying, ‘This is the most important thing we could be teaching right now,’ ” Miller recalls. By the end of the conference, NLP staffers had collected 108 business cards from teachers wanting to be on the mailing list—far more than
they’d ever collected in previous years.

“We’ve gone from being a voice in the wilderness to an answer to a prayer for many educators,” Miller says. “We were the antidote to fake news long before anybody coined that term. I do wish this problem was a little less urgent and that I looked a little less prescient, but we are where we are.”

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Articles

All That Glitters

Go for the gold this holiday season with accents that shimmer and shine

The Right Stuff

Serve a dish studded with cranberries and chestnuts for the holidays

Inside Three New Homes

When renovations can’t do the job, residents are building custom homes to get what they really want

Grand Designs

What it takes to create a restaurant’s layout and décor
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »

Renovated Colonial

North Potomac, $1,045,000

Fabulous Brick Home on Cul-de-sac

Bethesda, $1,495,000

Brand New Build

Chevy Chase, $2,195,000

Elegant French Colonial

Potomac, $1,425,000

Chateau-style Home on Huge Lot

Potomac, $1,250,000
Edit Module

Profiles

Your Guides to Leading
Local Professionals

Edit Module

Talk With Us

On Social Media

     

Edit Module
Edit ModuleEdit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags