Tiffany Miller

(Rock Hill, S.C.) — Winthrop University opened a series on “News Literacy and the Future of Journalism” Sept. 18 in Dina’s Place, located in the DiGiorgio Campus Center, which is part of a national effort focusing on democracy and informed citizens.

The eight-month series is a collaboration among Winthrop, the S.C. Press Association and the S.C. Humanities, which is intended to enhance the public’s knowledge and appreciation of the bonds between journalism, the humanities, democracy and an informed citizenry.

The opening event featured Dr. Michael Lipscomb, professor of political science, who presented a lecture on “free speech and the responsibilities of citizenship.”

Lipscomb told an audience of a few hundred that citizens in a free society have a responsibility to educate themselves in order to seek truth.

Being an informed citizen is essential to making decisions and being able to discern what is real and what is fake, according to Dr. Aimee Meader, an assistant of mass communication.

“If you don’t know what is real and what is not real, you act as a citizen and you can’t make reasonable decisions for yourself,” Meader said. “In terms of our citizenry, (being informed) has big consequences.”

Professors often stress the importance of students being informed citizens, but some students say it could be stressed more often.

“I feel like (news literacy) is something that isn’t really thought about or considered (among students),” said Dartanyan Ball, a senior individualized studies student. “I think it might not even be that important to them usually because they see the news as depressing.”

Many students often get their news from social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. The news literacy series, however, aims to help students learn to discern accurate information from false or fake news, which often spread via social media.

The next event in the series is titled “Discerning the Truth: Fake News vs. the Real Thing,” which will be held Oct. 2 in Dina’s Place.