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Fake News, Media Literacy & the Critical Role of the Media Specialist

By: Frank W Baker (, Twitter: @fbaker)

I’m honored that OELMA has invited me back to Columbus on Monday, June 19. By now, you’ve probably seen or heard the marketing for that day and I hope you will consider attending. Register here:

I am proud to be an OELMA member and to contribute to the conversation about the importance of teaching media literacy in the 21st century. As you know, I operate The Media Literacy Clearinghouse and have authored four books on the topic. I’m also writing a regular blog at
Media literacy has been recognized and recommended by a host of national organizations including the Partnership for 21st Century Skills; the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards; the Horizon K12 Report, and Future Workskills 2020, just to name a few.

On a recent webinar at which I was a participant I declared: library media specialists are THE leaders in teaching information and media literacy. Never before has that been more important than today. The “fake news” controversy actually did us all a favor: it raised a “red flag” and elevated media literacy in the national dialogue. Many news stories quoted librarians, and other educators, who referenced specific teaching strategies to help today’s young people become more media literate.

In my keynote address on June 19, I plan to talk not only about fake news, and the problems it creates, but also some solutions. So I hope you’ll be there in person. In addition, I will be conducting a concurrent session on “close reading” of media messages. This session will cover visual literacy, advertising, and moving image literacy. All of this is designed to help you feel more comfortable teaching media literacy and supporting the teachers who will also plan to address it.

As a former consultant to the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), I understand well how media literacy fits nicely into the ELA classroom, where informational texts already include many media examples. ELA teachers are also some of the largest users of film in the classroom and this gives them many opportunities to teach film as text. At the same time, the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) recently adopted a new, revised resolution on media literacy, urging social studies educators to think about engaging students in critical thinking and viewing.

These are exciting and challenging times to be in education. I can’t wait to see you and to be part of what looks like a wonderful professional development opportunity.