Monday, November 12, 2012

McCormick Journalism Program Launches News Literacy Collaborative

by Ashlei Williams, Robert R. McCormick Foundation Communications Intern


Got news literacy? On October 24, the McCormick Foundation Journalism Program and Midwest Journalism Education Initiative(MJEI) gathered representatives from 10 secondary education schools and organizations to consider this question. Over the next seven months, the first collaborative news literacy project will be conducted to help student journalists and young news consumers apply critical thinking skills to media.


The foundation recently announced plans for a three-year, $6 million initiative called “Why News Matters.” The initiative will expand innovative approaches to improving news literacy skills and programs in Chicago. MJEI works with leading organizations in the identification and development of resources to enhance the practice of journalism and media instruction. MJEI is leading the collaborative project that is funded by the foundation.


Project participants include: Bartlett High School, Benito Juarez Community Academy, Downers Grove North High School, Elk Grove High School, Free Spirit Media, Oak Park-River Forest High School, Perspectives Math and Science Academy, Roberto Clemente High School, Rolling Meadows High School and Wheeling High School.


"The goal of the project is to provide reporting that is accountable, verifiable and independent of bias," said Stan Zoller, director of MJEI.


Zoller is developing the curriculum for the project that is based on Stony Brook University’s news literacy course. At the initial meeting, he explained that the students participating will be expected to do investigative reporting on a specific issue. Teachers and advisors brainstormed on topics ranging from the depletion of vocational courses to equipping ELL students for advanced placement opportunities.


"You guys [teachers] are pioneers for doing this," said Clark Bell, director of McCormick Journalism Program. "This is something that can be and should be replicated nationally."


Bell said that from this pilot project the foundation hopes to host a national conference on news literacy in 2014 and a showcase for related projects in 2015.

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