Improving the Demand of News Literacy

Clark Bell, the director of journalism programs for the McCormick Foundation, introduced a panel about news literacy in local communities. The panel's objective is to show reporters and editors ways to reach out into their communities to make people more interested in the value and importance of well written and reported journalism. Bell said that their were some vital factors to the future of journalism. One was that journalists understand the value of producing good good writing and that readers understand the importance of recognizing and demanding well-written journalism.

Alan C. Miller then presented a video created by students that participated in the News Literacy Project in Bethesda, Md. As the director of the program Miller relayed that its main purpose is to teach students about why news is important, why freedom of speech is vital to American democracy, and how to know which information is creditable. The program sends seasoned journalists into middle and high school classrooms to teach students about these topics.

The next presenter, Howard Schneider, said that "if we are going to create the newest journalism school we can't just train the journalist we have to train the consumers. The audience is just as confused as we are." Schneider is the dean of the School of Journalism at SUNY. He recognizes that part of the problem is that students are not clear, in this "glutton of information, what news really is." Schneider's students spend months analyzing the reliability of information they ingest from various sources including examining the sources used by the reporters. "Once they read the story they have a very clear idea about what they know and what they don't know and why." Schneider said. He plans to create an online version of the course that community colleges and even high schools will be able to access.

Information was made available for organizations that were interested in partnering with the programs and for students who wish to bring the programs to their institutions.

Compiled by Dilane Mitchell, Howard University