It's Complicated. Journalism Role in Teaching Critical Thinking
Authors Cila Warncke and Kat Lister discuss challenges the educators face when teaching media literacy in today's fast-paced environment

11 August / 2022
Cila Warncke, the teacher of English Language and Literature at Le Sally whose background is in music, travel, and business journalism, and her colleague Kat Lister, who has written for publications including The Sunday Times Magazine, Vogue, and The Observer, and is the author of the book "The Elements: A Widowhood", talked about the changing landscape of journalism and social media and how to help children navigate this complex and constantly changing world.

Here are some highlights from the conversation:

Kat Lister on navigating the media of today

It’s very hard even for those working in the industry to navigate such a fast-changing landscape, and I don’t think there is any one person who is doing it perfectly. And the way that we learn and grow, and familiarize ourselves is by having conversations like this, which have to be very open about the downfalls of social media, but also about what the positives are, and what we can gain from it.

It’s not going anywhere. None of these platforms is going anywhere. The only thing that can change is our relationship with it and that can seem quite chaotic nowadays: it can be a hard place to navigate, it can be a hard place to verify. What is news? What is fake news?

The best way to make our way through this is to think about the original source. You see a video shared a gazillion times on Twitter, and that almost immediately verifies it in your mind, but actually, that’s not the asset to look at. I often have to double-check myself, because I will be almost hitting retweet, and then I'll be like, hang on a second, where was the video filmed, who filmed it, where was it filmed, are the details correct? Is the date right?
Contextualizing tweets or videos on TikTok or wherever you happen to find yourself, is tremendously important. We've all become fact-checkers in a way, and that’s an incredible responsibility not only on the content creators but also the responsibility of the readers, on the audience. As we are saying, look at things more critically, and now, more than ever that’s become quite urgent. And it’s not something any of us are doing in a perfect way, I don’t think.

Cila Warncke on teaching

Yes, these are the traditional 5 W-s: When, Where, When, Who, and Why. And this is something that as a Literature teacher I really emphasize, continually asking students: “Okay, what’s the context of this? Whether it’s an article or a short story, make sure you understand where this is coming from. There is a direct relationship between that kind of critical reading of anything and the ability to navigate the news."

Watch full podcast below to learn more