For three years, The News Literacy Project has been helping middle- and high-school students in Chicago, New York City, and Bethesda, Maryland, separate fact from fiction in the torrent of news and information that pours forth daily. Today, the project begins work in the nation’s capital E.L. Haynes Public Charter School with an event featuring journalist Gwen Ifill and FCC commissioner Michael Copps.
Alan Miller, a former investigative reporter at the Los Angeles Times who launched the project in 2008, says that with the addition of E.L. Haynes, the project will reach about 2,000 students this academic year. The NLP curriculum brings current and retired journalists into the classroom to discuss what they do and why, and to help teach students to discern quality, public-service journalism from opinion, misinformation, raw information, and propaganda.
CJR has supported the news literacy effort, both Miller’s project and the Center for News Literacy at Stony Brook University in Long Island, as a way to address the demand side of the news equation and help sustain an audience for great journalism. All information is not created equal, and teaching the next generation of news consumers to make distinctions in their information diet, and why those distinctions matter, is crucial for the health of our democracy.