Social Media

April 2014

President's Message

Dear NLP Friends and Supporters,

We have been blessed throughout our six-year history with the support of exceptional funders. Not surprisingly, our funders want to see results.

In this issue, we share a new video, "Impact," that captures NLP’s value in New York City, Chicago and the Washington, D.C., area. We also announce generous grants from both a new funder and one of our first funders, now providing us with renewed support.

Our Spotlight feature focuses on our partnership with another engaged funder, Bloomberg, in all three of our regions. Our profile is a portrait of one of our monthly videoconference lessons that link schools in each of our regions with a prominent journalist.

As always, we welcome your interest, questions and feedback.

All the best,


Alan C. Miller








NLP's newest video, "Impact," captures the project's value in its programs in New York City, Chicago and the Washington, D.C., area.

NLP Calendar

The News Literacy Project is offering its digital unit three more times this school year to partner schools in New York City, Chicago and the Washington, D.C., area. Part of this unique e-learning experience involves a live online news literacy lesson with an NLP journalist volunteer. The remaining presenters this year are Matea Gold of The Washington Post, who will teach students how to discern facts in political reporting; Maria Hinojosa of NPR's "Latino USA," who will explore topics in news literacy; and Matt Wuerker of Politico, who will explore the role of editorial cartoonists.

Recipients of our newsletter may register here to observe one or more of these videoconferences, which are not open to the public.


NLP in the News

The Wesleyan Magazine, the alumni publication for Wesleyan University, described NLP's progress and plans in an article by Matea Gold, a reporter with The Washington Post. NLP founder Alan Miller graduated from Wesleyan in 1976.

NLP continues to be cited in the Columbia Journalism Review's series on news literacy. In "When Old Stories Go Viral," CJR's news literacy reporter, Ben Adler, explores the rejuvenation and recirculation of old content online; "News Literacy Declines with Socioeconomic Status" explores the digital media and news literacy challenges faced by lower-income teens; "Tabloids in the Age of Social Media" examines the impact of social-media sharing on the reception of gossip and other unreliable information; and "Falling for Internet Hoaxes" highlights the way satirical news is often mistaken for credible journalism online.

Michelle Manchir, a Chicago Tribune reporter, discusses interviewing with 7th-grade students at Pulaski International School in Chicago.
Photo by Mieke Zuiderweg

NLP News
Growth, Major New Funders and a Key Hire

NLP is on track this school year to work with about 100 teachers in at least 75 schools to reach more than 7,500 students in our three regions. This is more than double the number of students from last year and is more than half the total for our first five years combined.

We are extremely pleased to announce two major grants that will help us to continue this growth, both in our current regions and nationally.

The Dow Jones Foundation has awarded NLP $100,000 to support the development of an open-access version of our digital unit and production of additional digital lessons for our Learn Channel.

The Ford Foundation has given NLP a two-year, $175,000 grant to support our programs and evaluation of our impact and to expand our capacity in New York City schools. Ford was an initial funder of NLP’s work from 2008 to 2011.

This added support will also help us expand internally. Nell Lennon, a seasoned and highly successful sales executive, has joined NLP as our first vice president of sales and marketing. After receiving her sales training with Xerox, Nell spent a decade at The Washington Post, where she “fell in love with the industry” and worked her way up to become the first female assistant director for display advertising. She has since held senior sales positions in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors selling educational programs to schools.

Finally, we added our sixth Learn Channel lesson this month. It features Elis Estrada, an associate producer for the consumer investigative unit at NY1 News, discussing the watchdog role journalists can play in their communities. Elis is also a part-time NLP program assistant in New York.

photo of students doing du in Chicago  
Alec McCabe, head of Bloomberg News’ training team for the Americas, offers feedback on an article written by a student for the new school newspaper at MS 57/James Weldon Johnson Leadership Academy in East Harlem.
Photo by Darragh Worland
  Bloomberg reporter Elizabeth Campbell (right) works with Diana Valente, a student at Benito Juarez Community Academy in Chicago, on a report for the school’s “News from the Nest” video broadcast.
Photo by Mary Owen

NLP Spotlight
A Successful Partnership in Three Regions with Bloomberg

In January, 15 journalists pitched their story ideas over pizza during a meeting at Bloomberg News’ 49th-floor newsroom in Chicago. Seven experienced reporters and editors asked probing questions about story angles and gave tips on possible sources.

These stories weren’t bound for the Bloomberg terminal or website. The journalists were students from Liz Winfield’s class at Benito Juarez Community Academy who produce reports for “News from the Nest,” the school’s video broadcast.

Their visit to Bloomberg kicked off the company’s partnership with the News Literacy Project in Chicago. It also initiated a meaningful connection between Bloomberg’s journalists and their student counterparts.

“They actually helped me with my story,” Susana Gonzalez, 17, said of the Bloomberg mentors. “I had no idea what to ask, and they gave me a lead for where to go. It was an honor.”

Bloomberg senior writer John Lippert visited Winfield’s journalism class twice to talk about reporting his Bloomberg Businessweek cover story about the Mexican drug cartels’ impact on crime in Chicago. He even brought one of his sources — a former gang member — to join him at one presentation. Bloomberg reporters and editors worked one-on-one with students during visits and passed along resources and touched base on the students’ progress via email.

The Chicago program is part of a broader Bloomberg-funded partnership that spans NLP’s three regions. The partnership is in its second year in East Harlem, where Bloomberg reporters are working with students in an after-school program at MS 57/James Weldon Johnson Leadership Academy. Bloomberg journalists have helped 7th- and 8th-grade students in the newly formed newspaper club start the school's first newspaper, Tiger Pride News.

Over the past eight weeks, a dozen journalists have led sessions on such topics as finding and interviewing sources, photojournalism and writing features. The program kicked off with a visit to Bloomberg's New York City headquarters in February and will wrap up there in June with a presentation of the second edition of the newspaper.

In the nation’s capital, reporters and editors in Bloomberg’s Washington bureau helped two dozen seniors at Bell Multicultural High School complete their 10-page research papers, a graduation requirement. Journalists helped brainstorm and shape topic ideas, find reliable sources of information, consider the use of graphics, and organize and edit the research.

Bell teacher Kristen Whitaker said the guidance was invaluable.  She told the Bloomberg journalists, "You've helped these students more than you'll ever know."

David Gonzalez (right), co-editor of the Lens blog on, answers student questions during his webinar on “The Power of Photography.” Darragh Worland, NLP's New York program manager, moderated the discussion. Photo by Elis Estrada

NLP Profile
NLP's Live Videoconference: National Digital Engagement

About halfway into his hour-long live videoconference, David Gonzalez, co-editor of the Lens blog on, waits while students in New York City and Chicago compare two photos of an apartment building in the South Bronx taken about five years apart. The poll question —  “Which neighborhood appears more safe?” — sits in the center of the screen as the students’ responses roll in.

Photo A, taken in 2008, is a color shot of the building’s façade, protected by an eight-foot wrought iron gate. Photo B, a black and white shot, shows the same building as it appears now, without the gate. The building is where Gonzalez grew up; the living room window of his family’s first-floor apartment is visible in both pictures.

About 60 percent of the more than 100 participants select photo A, apparently because it has a fence and a locked gate. Gonzalez responds, “Real security is when you don’t need any of that stuff.” When neighbors know each other and feel safe using the street as a shared space, they don’t need to erect fences to keep one another out, he said.

The exercise, a brief stop in a March 20 lesson called “The Power of Photography: Telling Your Community’s Story,” took students on a visual journey of Gonzalez’s photos of the South Bronx from the notorious 1970s of “The Bronx Is Burning” to the more gentrified present day. In the process, Gonzalez, a 30-year print and photo veteran at the Times, illustrated how context, balance and the photographer’s perspective all affect the interpretation of a photo.

For the past two years, NLP has been producing these live virtual lessons with a journalist volunteer as part of its digital unit for students in Chicago, New York and the Washington, D.C., area. They are held on Thursdays of the digital-unit week; students have logged on from their computers at home, from after-school pizza parties with their teachers and even from their mobile devices during a school dance. The lessons are digitally captured so any student who misses one in real time can watch it later.

The teleconference offers students a chance to interact not only with the guest journalist, but also with their counterparts in other cities. During the session with Gonzalez, many students wanted to know what prompted him to start taking photos.

“When I came back to the Bronx in 1979 and saw what had happened, taking pictures was the only way to make sense of what had happened,” he told them. “Cutting it up into little frames to try to figure out ‘What’s this world, what had happened and how did I fit into this place?’”

THE NEWS LITERACY PROJECT (NLP) is an innovative national educational program that mobilizes seasoned journalists and works with educators to help middle school and high school students sort fact from fiction in the digital age.

Click here to learn more about NLP and visit NLP's YouTube channel.

If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation to support NLP, you can do so here.

NLP thanks its major funders and all those whose support makes our program possible.

Copyright (c) 2014 The News Literacy Project. All rights reserved.

The News Literacy Project
5525 Devon Road
Bethesda, MD 20814