Information Evaluation, Literacy, and the Media
This has come up a couple of times, but there is an intriguing role for libraries to partner with journalists and the media to look at how the media actually works. It has been suggested that librarians take a closer look at media studies, but beyond that, a conversation with journalists about what their job actually means could lead to programming and lesson plans to help the public understand what they are reading/seeing.
To be transparent, I was an undergraduate journalism major who later became a librarian. I understand intuitively from being in the news business the difference between the news department and the opinion department, but there are too many who do not. When I watch the cable news network of your choice, I understand that prime time features entertainers, not journalists.
We also have to understand that most journalists are not specialists in any area of knowledge, but are generalists in many areas. Add to that how brutal daily deadlines are, especially in a 24-hour news cycle, it is more understandable that they get things wrong. Reputable journalists, however, will admit the mistake and issue retractions and clarifications. Reputable media will also go to specialists in the field to get the story right. It is useful to know that the first take on a story is usually the most widely inaccurate.
The nature of the economic modal is attention. It has been determined that you get more eyeballs with the bizarre and scary. It explains why the media gave so much attention to candidate Trump in 2016 and beyond. He said things no other presidential candidate ever said and violated every norm. Even if you were not a fan, you couldn't help but watch and shake your head. This fit the model for the media. They gained your eyeballs even if the information was false or the candidate was simply lying.
Finally, related to the economic model, the era of "unbiased journalism" is not the norm, if it ever existed at all. There seems to be a false nostalgia for the era of Walter Cronkite and Edward R. Murrow telling us like it is without bias, although that is also debatable among reasonable people. But from our era to the yellow journalism of William Randolph Herst to the penny sheets of colonial America, bias gets attention. European press tends to be quite biased, but it is honest and lets you know. If you read the Guardian or Le Monde, you know what you are getting. Nothing particularly wrong with that or unethical. You just have to allow for it and get your media from more than one source.
Programming with the media and journalists to explain all of this could go a long way. As I have suggested elsewhere, this isn't a sometimes thing but an all the time thing. You can't do one evening program and suggest you are done. These lessons have to start in elementary school and be reinforced until we can't read or watch anymore.