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Scholarly Discourse on Political Misinformation: Media Literacy Education

By Yi Ding

Media Literacy Education

Works in previous sections of this essay offer fact-checking solutions to misinformation. This final segment explores another important intervention: media literacy education.

What contributed to the struggles faced by Muslim Latino students in conflicting media bubbles regarding Christian and Islamic immigrants? How could American teachers remain balanced when presenting news criticizing the Chinese government on climate change issues? Why should universities address the growing mistrust of medical information during the global pandemic, or what the WHO Director called the “infodemic”?5 Questions like these, pondered by information literacy scholars and educators such as librarians, reveal the urgent need of educators to address polarizing and false information in the digital ecosystem. Essential issues such as migration, climate change, and public health emergencies cannot be fully addressed without interrogating false information that results in xenophobia, global warming denial, and anti-vaccine sentiments. Particularly during times of crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, education should play an unprecedented role amidst increasing technological disruptions and geopolitical tensions. Failure to do so risks exacerbating the infodemic and undermining global efforts for collective healing and revival.

In alignment with this imperative, Research, Literacy, and Communication Education: New Challenges Facing Disinformation, edited by Belén Puebla-Martinez et al., provides valuable perspectives for educators and researchers grappling with disinformation, offering insights into how to navigate an environment saturated with misinformation through effective communication and critical literacy skills. Additionally, other collections like Unpacking Fake News: An Educator’s Guide to Navigating the Media with Students, edited by Wayne Journell, and Media Literacy in a Disruptive Media Environment, edited by William Christ and Belinha De Abreu, offer strategies to adapt media literacy education in order to address challenges posed by evolving media environments by engaging students to critically analyze media sources. Similar to earlier discussion in this essay about the importance of scientific literacy, David Helfand, in A Survival Guide to the Misinformation Age: Scientific Habits of Mind, equips readers with critical thinking skills and a scientific approach to evaluating information amidst widespread misinformation.

Although there is a dearth of manuscript literature on underserved communities, two collections are worth delving into to understand disparities in media literacy education. Misinformation Policy in Sub-Saharan Africa: From Laws and Regulations to Media Literacy, by Assane Diagne et al., sheds light on the concerning lack of media literacy education and offers in-depth recommendations to address this issue in Africa. Fighting Fake News: A Generational Approach, edited by Eugene Loos and Loredana Ivan, adopts a unique generational perspective to counter misinformation, acknowledging the varying digital literacy levels and information consumption habits across different age groups. Both titles demonstrate an innovative approach to the persistent challenge of fake news and other forms of misinformation by recognizing the importance of generational and geographic nuances, tailoring solutions to the diverse needs and preferences of different generations and communities. The multidisciplinary nature of these books, which draw from various fields such as media studies, communication, and psychology, enhances their applicability across different domains.

5.  “Infodemic,” World Health Organization, accessed January 12, 2024,