NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt is joining a project to teach teens the critical thinking and fact-checking skills they need to discern fact from fiction online.
The goal is to teach a million teens, half from underserved communities, by 2020.
Holt will serve as the MediaWise project's first ambassador. He helped lead a MediaWise event at D.C.'s Woodrow Wilson High School on Wednesday, teaching students how to spot misleading and false information online.
"While teens are generally regarded as digitally savvy, research from Stanford History Education Group (SHEG) shows that the vast majority of teenagers have trouble navigating digital information — whether it’s viral hoaxes on Instagram, misinformation campaigns on Facebook, or sponsored content on news websites," said a release from the Poynter Institute, which is leading the project.
MediaWise aims to educate teens at school events across the U.S., via social media, and soon, with new curriculum being developed by Stanford. The new curriculum will be available for teachers to download for free this fall.
In addition to his role as ambassador, Holt will also contribute content to the project's social media efforts.
"Fact checking and identifying trustworthy sources is something I've done every day for over four decades," Holt said in a release from Poynter, a non-profit focused on excellence in journalism. "But in today's noisy media environment, those skills are just as important for our readers and viewers as they are for those of us doing the reporting."
Raley Long, 15, of Florida, is an inaugural member of MediaWise's teen fact-checking network. Long said her friends and family are constantly spreading inaccurate information online without knowing it.
"This project is special because it starts teaching people how to spot false information early in their life," she said, according to Poynter's release.
The project is also working with influential YouTube Creators, including author John Green, best-selling author of "The Fault in Our Stars," to produce educational videos.
MediaWise is funded by Google.org, the philanthropic division of Google.