Breaking the News: Real Stories, Fake News, and Why the Difference Matters

National Geographic. Oct. 2020. 160p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781426338885.
Gr 6-9–News literacy is an important skill; students can find it difficult to gauge “fake news” and misinformation. Terry-Brown expertly breaks down why real news matters and how to become a more discerning consumer. The text describes the principles of journalism, why those principles matter, and how readers can use them to assess the validity of the information. Readers learn how to spot fake photos, bogus websites, and biased opinions. Propaganda and its historical uses are explained. Think viral hoaxes are a new thing? Not at all—several historical hoaxes that fooled many are detailed. Terry-Brown spends much (valuable) time showing readers how to evaluate sources, especially emphasizing the necessity of cross-checking information with multiple reputable sources. The information and back matter are rock-solid. However, the interior layout is busy. Photos, drawings, text boxes, off-set text, and multiple other distractions clutter the pages.
VERDICT An excellent tool for teachers and librarians to use to explore the idea of information and media literacy. It’s very unlikely that a middle schooler would pick up this title for an independent read, but every student (and adult) should know the principles within.

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