University of Michigan introduces new course to fight fake news

University of Michigan students can learn how to turn a critical eye on the media they consume thanks to a new course focused on fake news that will be introduced next fall.

President Donald Trump is part of the inspiration for the class

View of the University of Michigan from the Hatcher Graduate Library. (University of Michigan Library/Facebook)

"You're fake news."

Students at the University of Michigan will soon be able to use President Donald Trump's anti-media tagline with confidence thanks to a new course focused on fake news.

The university's library has teamed up with its College of Literature, Science and the Arts to create a one-credit class called, "Fake News, Lies, and Propaganda: How to Sort Fact from Fiction," which will be available next fall.

"We have really recognized an increase in the challenge students have sorting out fact from fiction, especially as they get so much news form friends and family," explained Doreen Bradley, a director with the library who helped develop the course.

Doreen Bradly, director of learning and program initiatives at the University of Michigan. (Doreen Bradley)

While the president's rocky relationship with the press was part of the inspiration behind the course, Bradely said the main focus is to teach students to double check before they believe everything they see on social media.

"Those of us who are older had tried and true sources of news, a few that we went to, but now it's really everywhere and it's so easy to share," she added. "We hope to help them find those few trusted sources … instead of just taking everything that comes across Facebook."

Sober second thought

The course will begin by discussing and defining "fake news," before digging into the motivations behind why it's produced and will end by helping students develop trusted sources for information.

"There is no right, there's no wrong, everyone just comes with a different perspective and it's important for students to recognize what the perspective is of what they're reading," said Bradley.

The library director admits a university education should already be teaching young people to think critically, but she hopes the class will help students take their research one step further.

"It's the same thing we would do with scholarly information. We ask, 'Can you verify this in a couple other places or is it just one news source that's pushing this issue?' "