Student reporters take on fake news at SXSWedu

SRL students and educators participate in a panel discussion on fake news at SXSWedu. (Photo by Tom Parisi)

Student Reporting Labs students and educators from local high schools participated in a panel discussion on fake news at the 2017 SXSWedu conference in Austin, Texas.

Fake news has continued to be a contentious issue since the 2016 election. Whether presenting fabricated stories as fact or merely misrepresenting information, fake news misleads the public and undermines the work real journalists do to report the truth. Managing Editor of Education for PBS NewsHour Leah Clapman proposed the panel as a way to help teachers find solutions as they struggle to educate students about becoming responsible news consumers.

The teenagers and educators from Manor, Pflugerville and Cedar Ridge High Schools were asked where they commonly come across fake news and how they recognize the difference between what is real and what is false. Many students pointed out that the rise of social media makes it easy for stories to spread quickly without verification.

“It’s really easy to hit retweet or share and stuff like that, and I think that before you do that you should check and make sure it’s true,” said Dorrian Murphy, a student at Pflugerville High School.

The panelists discussed a number of fake stories that have made headlines in recent months and ways for teachers and students to recognize and combat them. SRL participants agreed that learning to report their own news stories helps them become more responsible when it comes to consuming news.

“I think just having to write news stories myself has helped so much, because I know what to look for,” said Maegen Villarreal, another Pflugerville student.

Watch SRL partner station KLRU’s video from the panel below.