The skill and habits required for mastering media literacy requires students to engage critically with the media in their world, including experiences in their work, study and life in general. In order to achieve this mastery, they must become adept at accessing, evaluating, analysing and consequently creating media for their own use and that of their community.
A number of discerning questions can be asked as students access the media they utilise on a daily basis. Two of these daily forms of media being imagery and news sources. Below are possible questions to ask as evaluation of the media type progresses.
Misleading online images
Ask yourself the question, does this image seem plausible? Look at the image for any iconic landmarks, famous skylines and weather conditions that may indicate alteration of the image. For example, snow falling on Uluru.
Check how the light falls across the image, is it consistent or do dark/light areas exist. Do the shadows fall in the correct places or not at all? Do strange reflections exist in the image that are inconsistent with the topic of the image?
Consider the quality of the image. Is there blurring or grainy patches in the image? Do any signs exist in the image which look as though they have been altered to read something else due to different fonts and spelling mistakes?
Can you check the account which is exhibiting the image? Are they reputable or seeking information from you as the viewer? Check out reviews and comments from other people to see if they have noted anything.
Do a reverse image search to find the original source of the image or to know the approximate date when an image was first published on the internet.
Inconsistencies in the image mean the photo may have been altered.
Verifying online news stories
How do you know when to trust the news? Check out the Universal Resource Locator (URL) for unusual components. For example, URL’s ending in lo or com.co as the chances are, they are fake.
Scan the layout of the news story. Are there bold statements made which do not quote sources or origins? Check out these points of origin for verification and truth.
Look for grammatical errors, check dates and watch for misleading images.
Continue to ask critical questions such as: Who wrote the article? Who supports the site?
Is the information freely accessible or do you need to register in some way to obtain the information?
Finally, cross-check the source. Are other credible news outlets reporting similar issues? Are there any clues about where the information or image originated? Use fact checking sites to check as the original source of the information can be essential for authentication and ethical concerns.
Developing skills in media literacy empowers students to be critical thinkers, effective communicators and active citizens utilising all forms of communication in their lives.