ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Fake News. It’s a buzzword President Trump first started using during his campaign. Now, we hear it over and over again on cable news.
I visited the university of Michigan in Ann Arbor to gauge student opinions about the concept of fake news. Is it a real thing? Can they distinguish real news from fake news and vice versa?
“I think it’s definitely real,” said Tyler Warner, a U-M freshman. “I’m not quite sure how to differentiate between the two yet. It just seems like media has been really bad lately at giving you the straight up truth. It’s definitely a way to draw people in and get hits. A lot of people are trying to make a living off what they are doing in journalism.”
“I think that it’s very alive,” said Nicole Joslin, a U-M junior in the dance program. “I think that it exists. I think the media puts together things, a lot of the times, to cover up things that may or may not be true to sway the audience.”
“My opinion is you have to be careful what you believe,” said Lyndsay, the parent of a U-M student.
First, I showed students a recent article that went viral about a man who found a great white shark in the Great Lakes. It went viral with over 340,000 shares on Facebook alone. The article was an obvious example to fake news since great whites only live in salt waters. Click here to read the article.
“Can I call it stupid?” Warner laughed after reading the article. “The 3,000-pound white shark is the explanation or thousands or hundreds of people who are missing. I don’t know if they just went swimming and just ended up missing, but okay. It just doesn’t make sense to me.”
After seeing the story, Joslin added: “I don’t understand because sharks don’t live in fresh water. Yeah, I guess it does look real to an extent. I can kind of tell that it’s been pulled off of Facebook. It has the like box on the side of the page here.”
“You can tell it’s fake because of that guy,” Lyndsay explained. “The shark looks real but the guy looks not trustworthy. He’s an old white man, you shouldn’t trust them. (laughs) He’s got too big of a smile. He should be concerned.”
This spring, the University of Michigan offered a free online course titled “Fake News, Facts and Alternative Facts.” The class has ended but you can still view all of the course materials at www.edx.org
“I think I would be interested,” Warner explained. “It would be nice to differentiate the two and be able to know what sources are credible and reliable when it comes to not only academia and writing but help me make informed decisions about society and become a better citizen in North America.”
Joslin added: “What I would hope to learn the most is to be able to distinguish what good news sources are as supposed to bad ones. My mom is on the very left side of things. Being too far on the left side of things is exactly like being too far on the right side of things. In Ann Arbor we forget about that a lot of the time because it is so liberal. Being able to find news sources that are moderate and pull from both sides so you get what’s happening on both sides rather than just biased views either way.”
“Sure, I’d be interested so I can tell my kids the difference between true stories and made up stories,” Lyndsay answered.
The free online course was so successful that the university has decided to offer a one-credit course this fall. The paid college class is called “Fake News, Lies and Propaganda: How to Sort Fact From Fiction.” Six sections of the class are being offered and one of them is already closed.
“Yeah, I’d take it if we can get more in-depth than the online class and have a discussion and dialogue about fake news, then I’d definitely be a part of it,” Warner said.
Lyndsay added: “That’s cool, my son goes to U of M so I’ll tell him about it. Yes, I think he would be interested.”
There you have it, fake news is now a real college class at the University of Michigan.
For more information about the one-credit “Fake News” course offering, visit http://www.lsa.umich.edu/cg/cg_detail.aspx?content=2160ALA270004&termArray=f_17_2160
To view the free online course about “Fake News” visit https://www.edx.org/course/fake-news-facts-alternative-facts-michiganx-teachout-2x