Letters to the Editor

Instructor promotes Newhouse class on fake news, media literacy

I read with interest the March 1 story, “The University of Michigan is offering a new class on fake news and fact-checking.”

I’m writing to inform you and the student body that there is just such a course at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. It’s COM 337, and it’s open to non-journalism majors across campus: “Real News, Fake News: Literacy for the Information Age.”

Professor Charlotte Grimes started it in the spring 2010 semester and taught it until her retirement. I’ve taught it the last three academic years.

What do the students who’ve taken it think about the course? Here are a few of their responses to the course evaluation questions “Has this course made you think? Why?”:

  • Yes it has. I look at the news with a critical eye, and I am able to decipher what is true.
  • Yes, it has helped me begin to think critically about how to decipher news
  • Yes, it made me a wise news consumer
  • Yes. I view the news much differently after this course and think about what is true and what is not.
  • Yeah a lot. Especially with the verification process. It made me think about all the fake news I’ve been consuming without knowledge.
  • Yes. Every time I watch/read the news I pay attention even more.

Thanks to Professor Grimes, SU has been ahead of the curve on this issue. With the explosion of misinformation — inadvertent and deliberate — on social media and elsewhere, every student needs to develop the critical thinking skills to determine what is true and what is not.

Sincerely,

Tom Boll
Part-time instructor
Newspaper and online journalism

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