Veteran journalist Alan Miller tells the story of the high school students who, years after the fact, didn't know that Osama bin Laden had been killed. These were seniors, no less - in a journalism class at a well-regarded New York City charter school.
"Their reaction was 'Wait, what? He's dead?' " said Miller, who won a Pulitzer Prize as a reporter for the Los Angeles Times.
His story, though, has a happy ending. After immersion in the News Literacy Project, a Bethesda, Md.-based nonprofit organization that Miller founded to give teenagers the tools to know what to believe in the digital age, the students became news junkies. They were seriously annoyed if their classroom copies of the New York Times didn't show up on time.
Every bit as dead as bin Laden, it sometimes seems, is many American citizens' basic knowledge of news. Young people, especially, get their news in isolated bursts on their phones (the experts call this disaggregation). That makes it harder than ever to tell established truth from opinion, propaganda or pure fiction.