Press Releases

May 15, 2017

NewseumED Visits Palo Alto High School to Pilot Class on Fake News

The Class Is a Response to Increasing Demand for Media Literacy Education

WASHINGTON — On Tuesday, May 16, NewseumED curriculum developers will be at Palo Alto High School in California to pilot their newest media literacy class, “Fighting Fake News: How to Outsmart Trolls and Troublemakers,” with students who helped shape it. The class was launched at the Newseum in March in response to the false news stories that were widely shared on social media during the 2016 presidential election, and are said to have influenced public opinion.

Students of Esther Wojcicki, a journalism teacher at Palo Alto, provided input to NewseumED staff as they developed the class and a flow chart helping students determine whether a story is worth sharing by text, tweet or email.

The Newseum’s education department has been teaching media literacy for more than 20 years. The free class and flow chart are part of a yearlong rollout of critical thinking tools to help students analyze information as the concern over fake news rises.

With more than 400,000 students visiting the museum each year and 26,000 of them taking a class, NewseumED staff noticed many students struggling to understand basic concepts of media ethics, information sources and bias. At the same time, teachers worldwide began requesting resources and information on how they could best address the “fake news” issue in their classrooms.

The visit to Palo Alto High School is part of NewseumED’s commitment to engaging students and using their unique insights to develop its educational content. Rather than a top-down approach, the NewseumED team gathers input from its Student Advisory Team and other students about their views and media consumption habits.

“Plenty of organizations are telling children how to consume news,” said Barbara McCormack, vice president of education at the Newseum. “What makes us different is that we’re going into the classrooms and listening to what students have to say, and then we’re building our curriculum around the information we learn from them.”

In NewseumED’s “Fighting Fake News” class, students dive into the complexity of digital citizenship, including their active role in the flow of information. They examine case studies that highlight the challenges of today’s media landscape, and leave the class with easy-to-implement strategies for being savvy news consumers. Students also explore what “fake news” means, why they should care about it, and how to consider motivations behind stories. A virtual version of this class will be available starting this fall.

The classes at Palo Alto High School will be held from 8:15-9:45 a.m. and 12:15-1:45 p.m. PT on Tuesday, May 16.

About the Freedom Forum Institute

The Freedom Forum Institute is the education and outreach partner of the Freedom Forum and the Newseum. The Institute includes the First Amendment Center, the Religious Freedom Center, the Newseum’s education department and diversity and inclusion programs. The Freedom Forum Institute’s affiliate organizations include the Al Neuharth Media Center at the University of South Dakota; the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics at the University of Mississippi; and the John Seigenthaler Center at Vanderbilt University. The Freedom Forum Institute is a 501(c)(3) public charity funded by generous individuals, corporations and foundations, including its principal funder, the Freedom Forum.


Journalists interested in attending the class at Palo Alto High School on May 16 may arrange to do so with Jonathan Thompson, [email protected]. Interviews and photo opportunities will be available.

Press Contacts

Jonathan Thompson
[email protected]