How to Train Students to Become Better Informed Citizens

Stuart N. Brotman, author of the forthcoming The First Amendment Lives On: Conversations Commemorating Hugh M. Hefner’s Legacy of Enduring Free Speech and Free Press Values is the inaugural Howard Distinguished Endowed Professor of Media Management and Law and Beaman Professor of Journalism and Electronic Media at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He has served in four presidential administrations on a bipartisan basis and is a frequent analyst for leading newspapers and magazines.

In this opinion piece for Inside Sources, Brotman argues for the importance of teaching media literacy in public schools.

Regardless of political affiliation, and whether leaning left or leaning right, we have an obligation as parents and taxpayers to support public education. We all want to make sure our children, as students, gain enough knowledge and perspective–especially in the critical high school years–to enable them to become responsible workers, and perhaps parents themselves one day.

Unfortunately, we are not providing much, if any, actual instruction regarding how students can learn to be better-informed citizens.

Yet we also have a higher obligation in the United States to have our public education system help prepare students to be informed citizens and voters. The very nature of our democratic system of government is rooted in core values of free speech and free press that are embodied in the First Amendment. There should be no disagreement on that, even in these highly polarized times.

Unfortunately, we are not providing much, if any, actual instruction regarding how students can learn to be better-informed citizens. Students, along with their parents, are bombarded throughout the political spectrum with slogans such as “fake news,” “misinformation,” and “disinformation,” with the usual result being a nasty Twitter battle between those hurling the accusations and those trying to disprove or at least defend them.

Read the entire Inside Sources piece here.


The First Amendment Lives On: Conversations Commemorating Hugh M. Hefner’s Legacy of Enduring Free Speech and Free Press Values

By Stuart N. Brotman

256 pages • Hardcover • ISBN: 9780826222558 • $85.00

Paperback • ISBN: 9780826222602 • $25.00

Forthcoming April 2022

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