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Teaching Critical Reading and Writing in the Era of Fake News


Edited By Ellen C. Carillo and Alice S. Horning

This collection offers support for instructors who are concerned about students’ critical literacy abilities. Attending to critical reading to help students navigate fake news, as well as other forms of disinformation and misinformation, is the job of instructors across all disciplines, but is especially important for college English instructors because students’ reading problems play out in many and varied ways in students’ writing. The volume includes chapters that analyze the current information landscape by examining assorted approaches to the wide-ranging types of materials available on and offline and offers strategies for teaching critical reading and writing in first-year composition and beyond. The chapters herein bring fresh perspectives on a range of issues, including ways to teach critical digital reading, ecological models that help students understand fake news, and the ethical questions that inform teaching in such a climate. With each chapter offering practical, research-based advice this collection underscores not just the importance of attending to reading, particularly in the era of fake news, but precisely how to do so.

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15. Hacking Fake News: Tools and Technologies for Ethical Praxis



According to the Pew Research Center, nearly two-thirds of Americans report that fake news is a significant problem that threatens democracy (Barthel et al., 2016). But what do we mean by the term “fake news?” Who uses it? When? Where? To what end? While President Trump’s definition of fake news grew in late 2018, it continues to center on news headlines that portray his administration negatively, conflating truth with flattery (Keith, 2018). In contrast, rhetoric and composition scholars define fake news as an “insidious form of post-truth rhetoric” and argue that fake news is made dangerous by its virility as each share spreads mis—or disinformation and its breadth of circulation is inversely proportional to the constrained thinking and reasoning that it engenders (McComiskey, 2017, p. 19).

At all levels, faculty and students are negotiating this complicated media landscape, chasing truth across genres, media, modes, and distributed fora; however, our evaluative tools, while more necessary than ever, are falling short in the pursuit. For example, the general education outcome for information literacy at the University of Rhode Island (URI), the state’s flagship land-grant, sea-grant, and urban graduate research university (URI, 2016), specifically names the CRAAP test (Blakeslee, 2004) as the preferred tool for evaluating sources. This checklist, designed to evaluate peer-reviewed academic sources, is adequate for that task. However, when ported into a fast-paced, dynamic, networked media landscape where currency is measured by the minute, the CRAAP...

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