University classifies 'news literacy' class as general education course

University classifies 'news literacy' class as general education course
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The University of Massachusetts, Amherst, is offering a journalism class to help students determine which news outlets are more reliable than others.
 
"News Literacy" is now classified as a general education course, and the UMass Amherst journalism department plans to offer it to more students, Boston-based WBUR reported.
 
"It's become this extremely relevant topic now because of the environment that we're in and the whole idea of alternative facts and fake news and all that," said journalism professor Steve Fox, who has taught the class for three years, according to WBUR.
 
Fox highlighted a recent exchange between White House policy adviser Stephen Miller and ABC's George Stephanopoulos as an example of real-time reporting.
 
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Stephanopoulos's Feb. 12 interview with Miller focused on the Trump administration's baseless claim of voter fraud in New Hampshire. 
 
"This issue of busing voters into New Hampshire is widely known by anyone who's worked in New Hampshire politics," Miller told Stephanopoulos.

Fox notes that Miller attempted to deflect the host's follow-up questions, with the subject repeatedly claiming that voter fraud is "pervasive and widespread" without providing evidence.

"You can start by providing evidence to back up your claims," Stephanopoulos said as the interview ended. 

"What do people think about this?" Fox asked his class recently, according to WBUR. "I mean, this is a pretty astonishing exchange."

"I noticed a lot of the things that he was saying, and he's pushing, 'Anybody who's working in New Hampshire' without actually naming anything," junior Sarah Heinonen replied.

"Right, there's a certain segment of the population where you hear something over and over again, and all of a sudden it becomes fact," Fox warned.

The class comes at a time when 64 percent of Americans feel fake news is "sowing confusion" about basic facts of current events, according to a December Pew Research study.