Missouri legislator files bill to fight ‘fake news’ with media literacy classes

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A Missouri state representative says he’s filing legislation to combat what he calls fake news with media literacy classes.

Republican Rep. Jim Murphy, who represents parts of St. Louis County, said in a news release that he has pre-filed the bill ahead of the 2020 legislative session.

HB 1402 would create a committee on media literacy, which would build and implement a curriculum for schools on how to teach media literacy courses.

“We always hear the term ‘fake news’ thrown around, but oftentimes, the news isn’t fake, but rather half-news or incomplete,” Murphy said in a news release. “We can’t just jump to conclusions with the first bits of information; instead, we have to look at the facts with a discerning eye, and let the story develop before choosing sides and becoming divided on an issue.”

According to a report by the the Senate Intelligence Committee, Russia’s Internet Research Agency was part of a broad effort to spread disinformation and fake news articles during the 2016 presidential election.

The term “fake news” has also been used to discredit journalists and news organizations who publish factual information across the globe, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, an organization that promotes press freedom.

Murphy, however, said attacking journalists is not the goal of the proposal.

“My goal by filing this is, quite simply, not to attack the media or informational providers, but to ensure that we are processing information in a fair, accurate, and healthy way,” he said.

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