CHICAGO — Research suggests that humans gravitate toward information that reinforces our worldview. But it's important to recognize that sometimes, that can make us susceptible to misinformation.
This week, our company has once again teamed up with News Literacy Foundation to help shine a light on better information consumption and sharing.
Last year, the average American adult spent about 11 hours a day consuming media on their computer, television or mobile device. That's a 20% increase from just a decade earlier.
"We think news literacy is an essential skill in today's fraught information environment. It's really a life skill," said Alan Miller, founder and CEO of the News Literacy Project.
Miller started the nonprofit in 2008 to address concerns about the tsunami of sources of information that vary in credibility and accountability.
"News literacy is the ability to evaluate all news and information and to discern credible information to be able to sort fact from fiction," he said.
A "fact" is defined as "something known to be true." An opinion is "a belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty." The main difference is that facts can be proven, whereas opinions cannot.
A 2018 Pew Research Center study found that when presented with five factual statements and five statements of opinion, only 26% of adults could correctly identify all five statements of fact. Just 35% were able to correctly identify all the statements that were opinions.
"We've got a perfect storm now that has created a situation where misinformation is an existential threat to the health of our democracy," Miller said.
Miller pointed out that one in five newspapers have gone out of business in the last 15 years. At the same time, there's been an explosion of other sources of information.
"Particularly online and through social media platforms that do not seek to inform in a fact-based, contextual, accountable way, but rather seek to persuade or exploit or misinform," he said.
Miller says therein lies the importance of news literacy.