Jennifer Duck, Emmy-award winning producer and instructor of Journalism/Cinema, Television & Media at Belmont, has been nominated for her third Emmy in the 41st Annual News & Documentary Emmy® Awards in the Outstanding Live Interview category. Duck considers producing the piece, “AC360 CNN Anderson Cooper Interviews Facebook’s Monika Bickert,” one of her most memorable productions because of her passion for combatting online misinformation, understanding media ethics and enforcing accountability on social media. Now as full-time faculty at Belmont, Duck shares this passion by teaching students about the prevalence of misinformation online and the importance of critically evaluating what they read online.
“What makes this Emmy nomination so newsworthy is the timing and the impact,” said Duck. “It highlights a controversy that affects every one of us. We are in a communication crisis due in large part to social media. Doctored videos, memes, tweets and Facebook posts full of misinformation are flooding our social media feeds. We have to understand fact versus fiction before clicking ‘share,’ ‘repost’ or ‘retweet.’”
During the 2016 presidential election, Duck was producing for CNN and teaching as an adjunct instructor at Belmont. During this time, she began understanding social media misinformation more deeply through an assignment for her class just before the 2016 election. She created an exercise that required students to find and debunk misinformation on both sides of the political aisle. It was when she was scrolling through screenshots of misinformation gathered from 30+ students from every political viewpoint that she realized how widespread the issue had truly become. “It literally impacted every single student, regardless of their views and beliefs.”
Duck noted that the interview with Facebook was a hard-hitting interview, and it led to a lot of changes and big conversations about the topic of misinformation online. That interview aired more than a year ago, and since then, social media companies have been paying more attention to misinformation online. However, it is still an uphill battle she is determined to continue to fight through her own study and through teaching students to be aware and to be critical of the information they read and share.
“As citizens, we have to be aware of what we are reading. Just as we learn literacy at a young age, we need to start teaching digital literacy for all ages,” Duck explained. “Digital literacy and education are vital to solving this misinformation pandemic. As I tell my students, if something sounds off, double source it as journalists do. Pause before posting. Read deeper and engage that healthy skepticism. Don’t spread false information from sources that aren’t reputable. Be part of the solution and not part of the problem.”
The 41st Annual News & Documentary Emmy® Awards will be presented virtually on Sept. 21 and 22.