Burgeoning Journalists Try on Their Roles in New Media Literacy Game

Last month, two dozen burgeoning journalists played our new media literacy simulation game, iThrive Sim: Follow the Facts. Here’s what they learned from it.

By iThrive Games
July 13, 2021

Media literacy incentivizes good journalism. In early June, two dozen high school students enrolled in the Summer Journalism Institute at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Arizona State University, stepped into a simulated newsroom to play iThrive Sim: Follow the Facts and discovered this. Follow the Facts is a media literacy-centered, role-playing simulation game where players, acting as journalists, sift through information and sources to find and share the truth about a mysterious illness and an impending storm in New Orleans. 

Playing the roles of Lifestyle Reporter, Metro Reporter, Government Reporter, Opinion Reporter, and News Editor, students (in teams of five) engaged with in-game social and print media, practiced effective sourcing of information, explored bias, and engaged in collaboration. In a collaborative gaming experience that combined media literacy skill-building, social-emotional learning, and civics education, the 24 students who played got the chance to:

  • Describe how the media shapes public opinion and behavior.
  • Collaborate to see the bigger picture of a situation and create accurate news.
  • Successfully rank the quality and value of varying sources of information.
  • Practice effectively sourcing information in a digital world, an integral media literacy skill in the 21st century.
  • Become aware of and describe bias and its impact on reporting, selecting, and interpreting the news.
  • Demonstrate self-management while under stress.
  • Practice clear communication.

The burgeoning journalists were highly engaged. Halfway through the game, they shared their learnings around journalism and media literacy, such as:

  • "[I learned] To pay attention to details, work in teams, [and] make important formal decisions."
  • "I learned that it's important to gain public trust by putting out specific and true information."
  • "I learned how to make beneficial decisions under pressure. It also gave me the experience of being a journalist."
  • "I learned that journalists have to handle a lot of information at once and work together to make decisions."
  • "[I learned] journalists have a limited amount of time and must prioritize what they think is the best thing to do."
  • "[I learned] That you really need to communicate with your team to have all of the information."
  • "I learned that getting the facts/right info depends on how you choose your sources."
  • "[I learned] only take information from verifiable sources."

Staff were energized by the engagement and thoughtfulness of the players.

"It was validating to see the students really deliberating over the decisions in the game and collaborating with each other to make the best choice," said Michelle Bertoli, Senior Director of Learning. "There aren't easy answers, just like in real life. It's such a great opportunity to dig deep and practice managing your own attention and emotions while you work closely with others towards a common goal."

To close out the experience, iThrive staff will lead a debriefing session based on the pre-written curriculum that accompanies the media literacy-centered simulation game. Follow the Facts is now available for summer enrichment programs and other youth-serving experiences. Sign up today to play the game with your students!