Improving Demand: News Literacy for Local Audiences

How can we as news consumers and educators jump-start journalism education in our communities? Clark Bell [McCormick Foundation], Alan Miller [The News Literacy Project] and Howard Schneider [SUNY, Stony Brook] presented their ways of unconventional journalism education in the seminar, Improving Demand: News Literacy for Local Audiences

Through an interactive video showing his project with students at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, MD., Miller showed how there is a lack of education amongst the general population pertaining to what news is.

Howard Schneider says that SUNY, he was teaching smart kids. Students who knew everything about science, history, math, English, but who were not as educated as they should be on news. "I began by teaching values and ethics of the press," said Schneider. "These kids were brilliant, but they believed everything they saw or heard on the news," he said.

Schneider says that students began to question what journalism was and if people like Michael Moore could be considered a journalist. It was at this time Schneider says he saw a need to educate news consumers, not solely journalism students. From this, Schneider created a general elective course for any student at the University that could be used for graduation on News Literacy. The course was a three credit class and was highly recommended for all students.

Schneider began the course by imposing a news blackout telling his students not to read or watch any news for 48 hours. "They don't think they look at news often, but after the day they were worried because they didn't know what was going on," said Schneider.

Schneider's main objective was to teach the importance of news in everyone's lives and the difference between news and opinion. The second part of the course was deconstructing the news; watching the news and pulling apart stories and putting them back so that students can distinguish between assertion and verifiable information.

Schneider wants to make the course online, in high school and community colleges. He envisions getting out of work journalist to come to Stony Brook to learn to facilitate a news literacy course so that they can go and facilitate similar courses across the country.

For more information on the News Literacy Project visit,

-Compiled by Gerron Jordan; Howard University