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Hampton Roads colleges, universities promote news literacy during National News Literacy Week

Dr. James Ford of the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications at Hampton University teaching a class on news literacy
Posted at 6:00 AM, Jan 24, 2023

NORFOLK, Va. - Here at News 3, we work every day to make sure you get the facts about what's going on in our community.

This week, WTKR’s parent company, The E.W. Scripps Company, is teaming up with The News Literacy Project, a nonpartisan nonprofit, to present National News Literacy Week.

This week, News 3 is encouraging you to stop misinformation, and explaining why it’s important to find trustworthy news sources.


News 3 is also taking a look at how colleges and universities in Hampton Roads are working to make sure students and their communities get straight to the truth and avoid the noise.

“You need to consume a mix of news sources,” Dr. James Ford, Assistant Professor of Journalism and Communications at Hampton University’s Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications said. “I compare it to a balanced diet.”

It’s been said that knowledge is power.

For Dr. Ford, good news literacy is part of the recipe to make knowledge powerful.

“Because of the speed of the communication, news, and information, it's so important that we really look at what we're doing,” Ford said.

He told News 3 news literacy is a pillar of his curriculum at Hampton University, teaching students to weed out misinformation and disinformation when looking for trustworthy news sources.

“We have to show them examples of real news, as well as the misinformation, disinformation, and fake news,” Ford said. “We want to be able to point to those media platforms that would have some less than credible news, because credibility and integrity, along with accuracy, they're the tenets. They're the pillars of what we do as professionals.”

Studies have shown media trust has been a recent issue in the United States.

According to Poynter, a 2021 Reuters Institute Report found the U.S. ranked last among 46 others in media trust.

trust in the media
The U.S. ranked lowest at 29% among countries polled for their trust in news sources.

“We want our students to be able to, not only digest the information, but to vet that information accurately,” Dr. Terry Marsh, Assistant Professor of Mass Communication and Journalism at Norfolk State University said.

Dr. Marsh teaches a course at NSU that tackles misinformation, disinformation, and fake news.

“I refer students to fact-checking sites, such as PolitiFact,, OpenSecrets, even Snopes,” Marsh said. “What we're starting to find is that many of our students come in, just perusing information, reading headlines or topical information, however, what we try to do prior to them leaving a specific course is to be able to not only understand that information, but understand that information in context.”

Meanwhile, Old Dominion University is adopting a plan to promote news literacy and information fluency across campus for all students in its quality enhancement plan.

“Pursuing truth is one thing, but reading responsibly and thinking critically is another,” said Remica Bingham-Risher, Old Dominion University’s Director of Quality Enhancement Plan Initiatives.

From 2023 through at least 2028, ODU officials said all faculty will support enhancing students' information fluency, and students' ability to read critically.

ODU faculty, including Philosophy and Religious Studies Professor Dr. Yvette Pearson, told News 3 these skills are meant to translate from the classroom to when out consuming the news of the day, and curb misinformation and disinformation.

“We rely on this information in some instances for our well-being, and if we're not careful about our ability to assess the quality and trustworthiness of sources, it could have a negative impact on our well-being,” Pearson said.

“We pulled what was a tweet about a certain subject, and then what was a scholarly article about a certain subject, and had folks really evaluate where's this information coming from? Which information is peer reviewed? What is the purpose of the information, and how do those things cross-pollinate,” Bingham-Risher added. “Our hope is that we're starting with kind of these lower-level of students, as soon as students come in to us, these 100 and 200-level classes, helping faculty to redesign assignments that will really focus on critical reading and focus on information fluency, that will help them kind of build those habits very early on, and they'll carry them on to their major courses, onto their careers, and out in their lives as citizens.”

Meanwhile, the Duke Reporters’ Lab has tips to help keep your news literacy intact.

These include checking a news organization's reliability, checking their track record for accuracy, and paying attention to a website's URL for any suspicious clues.

Overall, Dr. Ford said knowing what's real and bogus when it comes to the headlines will help you in the long run.

“Trust is the foundation to our living harmoniously with each other, despite our differences,” Dr. Ford said. “If we can get people to understand each other more than just in a classroom, actually take that out in apply it in our daily living, I think the world would be a better place.”

Click above to watch News 3's Zak Dahlheimer's interview with Bill Adair, Director of the Duke Reporters' Lab at Duke University, about what the lab is doing in terms of fact checking research and technology to help you get accurate information.