NewsNationalDemocracy 2018


FGCU class fact-checking campaigns

Voting project vetting claims
Posted at 6:55 AM, Oct 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-10 08:46:33-04

Not every student in this FGCU class wants to be a journalist, but that doesn't bother associate journalism professor, Lyn Millner. The lessons she teaches are recommended for pretty much every student in today’s media culture.

"There is an enormous amount of information out there that's just not real,” Millner says. 

And that is the basis for her media literacy class. In a typical year, students learn how to vet stories they read online or see on television. They ask critical questions about sources and look for documented facts. 

"I want them to be able to look at a piece of information and determine whether or not they can act on it,” Millner says. “Whether or not it's reliable or credible, and then make decisions based on that.”

The midterm election this fall makes that work even more urgent, she says. This semester her class is fact-checking the claims local candidates make. 

They’re also working with high school students from Lee County Schools, and fact-checking statements candidates make about issues they care about. 

Julia Bonavita took the class last year and came back to intern this fall, to support students with their work. Professional journalists are also helping the students look for sources as they try to verify claims. 

"It's so important that we inform our voters and we get everybody out to the polls and ready to vote,” Bonavita says. 

In the month leading up to the election, Fox 4 will document the work these students are doing, and show you how they decide whether a claim is true or false.