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ERIC Number: EJ986716
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Feb-5
Pages: N/A
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0009-5982
What's Black and White and Re-Tweeted All Over? Teaching News Literacy in the Digital Age
Loth, Renee
Chronicle of Higher Education, Feb 2012
In 2007 the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation placed a major bet on State University of New York at Stony Brook: $1.7-million to enroll 10,000 students in its news-literacy curriculum over five years. Alberto Ibarguen, president and chief executive of the foundation, expected the course to foster "a group of students who would simply graduate better able to cope with the bombardment of information that's part of modern digital life." But with the enthusiastic buy-in of Stony Brook's then-president, Shirley Strum Kenny (herself a journalism graduate), Ibarguen also hoped for two other results: (1) a university-wide adoption of the curriculum as a graduation requirement; and (2) the creation of a model that could easily be replicated in other colleges. Conceived and developed by Howard Schneider, the 14-week Stony Brook course is required of journalism majors, but it is not designed for them. All students need the skills to navigate the media in the digital age. Misunderstandings, believing in half-truths and rumors, this is why they need this course. Schneider is founding dean of Stony Brook's journalism school, but he understands that training the next generation of journalists is not enough. His big idea is that the skills traditional journalists learned at the knee of some grizzled veteran editor are required of everyone in today's media mash-up. Getting both sides of the story, keeping an open mind, digging deep to verify facts and assertions, going to multiple sources, placing a high value on accuracy, balance, and fairness--those are the habits citizens need to learn and employ as they navigate the wilderness of new media. The Stony Brook course covers a broad range of material, including the history and principles of communication, landmark Supreme Court cases on libel and prior restraint, censorship in China and Iran, and critical-thinking concepts like cognitive dissonance, confirmation bias, and inference. For all that, however, it boils down to one indispensable acronym: VIA, for verification, independence, and accountability. Students are instructed to ask: Does this news report verify its statements? Has this person or organization created a report free of entanglements or agendas? Does the editor or producer stand by the accuracy of the report and hold accountable whatever sources are quoted? News literacy won't change a debased media culture overnight. But given the resources and time, it could become a reform movement that works from the inside out, building a critical mass of citizens who demand--and produce--more verified, independent, accountable information.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: New York