Disinformation & Democracy: The Case for Media Literacy

This solutions gathering will explore the digital threats to democracy and our 2020 election posed by dis- and misinformation, bringing together journalists, technology and disinformation experts, as well as press freedom advocates to discuss the media’s role in reporting on election-related disinformation without contributing to the spread of false or manipulated content.

As the spread of disinformation threatens the fabric of our democracy, public trust in the press declines, and a pandemic gives life to an infodemic, media literacy has become a chillingly vital prerequisite to civic engagement. Knowing the News, a virtual media literacy program, is PEN America’s answer to the ongoing threat of disinformation.

“Knowing the News” program equips participants with the knowledge and skills to become more discerning news consumers, fit to defend themselves against disinformation. PEN America has long argued that one of the best defenses against disinformation is ensuring the public has the skills and tools to evaluate the information they encounter and consume. To advance this goal, PEN America has been working with our chapters and communities across the country to offer this series during the COVID-19 crisis, including partnership events with journalists, newsrooms, public libraries, and other local organizations.

During this session, PEN America will lead a discussion on adult media literacy during a pandemic to spotlight its potent threat in the lead up to a national election, drawing on experience facilitating virtual workshops, discussions with local journalists, and other online media literacy activities that aim to combat the corrosive effect of fraudulent news and foster greater community trust in the news. The conversation will cover techniques for instruction, tips for journalists and journalism educators, and helpful metrics for success.

Suggested Speaker(s)

  • Nora Benavidez
    Director of U.S. Free Expression Programs, PEN America