In this section, NLP's director of education, John Silva, NBCT, offers his suggestions for connecting news literacy with civic engagement and action.
Wikipedia as a fact-checking tool
Despite concerns about its credibility (since anyone can edit the site), Wikipedia can be one of the most reliable and up-to-date sources for basic factual information — and a key tool, when used properly, for fact-checking. Here are a few reasons why:
- Its Five Pillars, which emphasize standards for articles written from a neutral point of view.
- Wikipedia’s belief in the benefits of open, live collaboration among everyone willing to contribute.
- The volunteer work of more than 32 million registered users and more than a thousand administrators moderating and verifying content.
Students are going to use Wikipedia. We need to teach them to use it properly.
Consider starting with the guide to Contributing to Wikipedia, and review how items make their way into the online encyclopedia. Continue with Article development, Core content policies, Writing better articles and Basic copyediting. Understanding how articles are created and improved also can help students to evaluate Wikipedia entries.
Fun fact: Any time a Wikipedia page is edited from a computer within the network of the U.S. Congress, a Twitter bot (@congressedits) tweets a screenshot showing the page’s original and edited versions. Ask your students why someone would create such a bot. Why should we care if a member of Congress or a person on a congressional staff is editing Wikipedia pages?