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Bills To Fight Fake News Moving Forward At California Capitol


Bills that ask California’s K-12 public schools to help fight fake news by creating media literacy programs are moving forward at the state Capitol.

But a key advocate for the bills says at least one, SB 203 by state Sen. Hannah Beth Jackson, has been stripped of oversight provisions and a promise to reimburse schools for the cost of the curriculum.

“We’re looking at a situation where the school districts will have to bear the costs themselves. And so the likelihood of their actually following through and providing the media literacy education lessens,” said Tessa Jolls is president of the Malibu-based Center for Media Literacy.

That bill would require teaching critical thinking skills for consuming and producing media.

Similar bills include AB 155 by Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez and SB 135 by Sen. Bill Dodd. 

The proposals respond to the phenomenon of fake news or made-up articles that exploded during the 2016 election.

Three passed initial hurdles in the Legislature in April. They face additional hearings next week.

In a press release earlier this year, Jackson described the need for the bill this way:

"This legislation is about ensuring we have an informed citizenry. The role of the media and technology is only growing. The skills we teach kids today about critical thinking, the role of media in their lives and how best to interact with social media, fake news and technology will help keep them safe and serve them into adulthood.”

A spokeswoman for Jackson said this week that the senator does not believe the removal of the oversight language will make SB 203 ineffective, saying the provisions were removed due to their cost.
Capital Public Radio's PolitiFact California will take part Saturday, May 6 in the Truth and the News forum on media literacy in Los Angeles.
The event will be hosted by the Lyndon B. Johnson and Ronald Reagan presidential libraries. A portion of the event, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., will be streamed on Facebook Live. More information is here.

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