Mount Allison students in Dr. Erin Steuter’s Critical Media Analysis sociology class put their learning into practice this term — working to raise awareness around fake news and how to spot it.
The class completed a unit on fake news, one of Steuter’s areas of research and expertise. Following this, two members of the class Corey Brideau and Sarah Ann Zamponi, along with Steuter, partnered with Exact NB, a non-profit group that helps individuals recognize disinformation related to bilingualism in New Brunswick, including fake news.
While this project was outside of Steuter’s class assignments, she says the experience allowed her students to share their insights around fake news.
“Fake news has become a huge problem in our society. It’s important for everyone to learn skills to ask questions about their information sources and think critically about what’s being presented,” says Steuter. “I’m really pleased with the students’ work and the outcome of the project.”
Françoise Enguehard of ExactNB echoes Steuter’s comments.
“ExactNB is very happy to have partnered with Dr. Erin Steuter and Mount Allison University on this project,” says Enguehard. “Helping people learn to Fact-check is essential, whether it is to fight fake news on the issue of bilingualism in New Brunswick as ExactNB does, or on any other important subject affecting us all."
Launched on April 2, National Fact Checking Day, the video has already received over 700 views from the ExactNB Facebook page.
“My favourite part about doing the project was being given the opportunity to critically express my thoughts about an issue a lot of us only really think about passively,” says Zamponi, who is studying international relations and sociology. “I think most of us are aware that “fake news” is an issue to some degree, but aren’t often consciously thinking about where it comes from, why it seems to get shared faster than factual news, or how to deal with it on a systemic level.”
Brideau says it felt good to tackle fake news, a problem he sees in everyday life, through the Exact NB video.
“We see examples of fake news, and the problems it causes every day,” he says. “I think the most important point for people to remember is, if you’re hearing something negative targeted against a certain group, it’s important to question what you’re hearing and the source or intentions behind this message.”
With ExactNB, Steuter, Brideau, and Zamponi produced the informational video with the assistance of Mount Allison alumnus, Anase Nanees. Funding was provided by the Government of Canada.