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August 2016


President's Message


Dear NLP friends and supporters, 

One of the best measures of a nonprofit organization is the caliber of the partners, participants and patrons that it attracts. NLP is particularly proud to be judged by this standard. 

In NLP News, we welcome two superb new board members and an excellent new staffer. We also announce a grant renewal from one of our longtime — and highly respected — foundation funders.

Our Spotlight focuses on “Facing Ferguson,” an exciting news literacy resource about the news reports, photographs, video and other information that was produced after an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, was shot and killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo., in August 2014. NLP developed this resource in partnership with Facing History and Ourselves, an acclaimed international educational nonprofit organization.

Our Video is a compelling snapshot of the “Facing Ferguson” resource. Please check it out.

Our Profile looks at the winners of the inaugural John S. Carroll Journalist Fellow Award: Matea Gold of The Washington Post and David Gonzalez of The New York Times. The award commemorating Carroll — the late NLP board chair who was one of America’s most esteemed newspaper editors — recognizes outstanding contributions by journalists to NLP.

Finally, we highlight the launch of our checkology™ virtual classroom, the culmination of all of NLP’s work to date. This platform is our primary path to national scale at a time when the nation’s democracy so clearly needs a new generation of news-literate citizens. 

We are profoundly grateful to all of our board and advisory committee members, partners, volunteers and supporters who make everything NLP does possible. Thank you! 

All the best,


Alan C. Miller









Watch "Facing Ferguson" Video

We’re pleased to announce the release of our latest digital resource, “Facing Ferguson: News Literacy in a Digital Age,” which we produced in partnership with Facing History and Ourselves. Check it out.


NLP Calendar

Satire Summit 2016: Beyond Parody?

Political satire plays a growing role in calling out hypocrisy, mendacity and venality in the nation's public life and holding the powerful, including the news media, accountable. That’s the topic of the News Literacy Project’s "Satire Summit 2016: Beyond Parody?" coming to New York City in October.

The event will feature a panel discussion moderated by Brian Stelter, the host of CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” and featuring Peter Sagal of NPR’s “Wait, Wait … Don’t Tell Me!”; Alexandra Petri, a Washington Post columnist and author of the ComPost blog; and Jordan Carlos, a writer and correspondent on Comedy Central’s “The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore.” Join NLP, The New School and WNYC on Friday, Oct. 14, at 7:30 p.m. at The New School’s Tishman Auditorium, 63 Fifth Ave. You can find further information and purchase tickets here.

NLP News

The checkology™ Virtual Classroom, Two New Board Members, a New Staffer and a Grant Renewal

Teachers can apply now to pilot our checkology™ virtual classroom at no cost this fall! Well-known journalists and experts in related areas will help them teach their students how to evaluate the credibility of information.

  NLP’s checkology™ virtual classroom got off to an impressive start in the spring. Despite launching on May 2, near the end of the school year, it reached more than 12,800 students in 22 states and the District of Columbia by the end of June and received an excellent response from teachers and students.

Following upgrades and the addition of two lessons, the platform moves into an expanded pilot phase starting on Sept. 12. Learn more or register for the fall pilot here. Please share this newsletter or the weblink with any educators who might be interested.

  Two impressive new members have joined NLP’s board: David M. Marchick, a managing director of The Carlyle Group, and Karen Wickre, a digital media pioneer who held senior communications positions at Twitter and Google for nearly 15 years. 

Marchick is also global head of external affairs at Carlyle, where he serves on the management committee. Wickre describes herself as a “communications strategist, sounding board, channeler of ideas and connector of people.” She formed KVOX Media, a communications consulting firm catering to business clients, in early 2016.

  NLP also welcomed an outstanding new staff member. Multimedia journalist Damaso Reyes, a former NLP journalist fellow, became New York program coordinator last month. He succeeds Elis Estrada, who has moved to the Washington, D.C., area to become that region’s program manager. 

Reyes is a gifted storyteller whose reporting and photography have appeared over the past 15 years on print, photo, video and audio platforms — including those of The New York Times, Time Asia, Der Spiegel and The Root.

  Finally, The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation renewed — and increased — its support for NLP with a $40,000 grant for the Washington, D.C., region program for the 2016-17 school year. The foundation has supported NLP since 2012.

NLP in the News

Peter Adams, NLP’s senior vice president for educational programs, wrote a thoughtful Teachable Moments blog item reflecting on the lessons for news consumers as they follow chaotic, controversial and fast-breaking events that provoke biases at every turn — such as the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., two years ago. A condensed version of Adams’ piece was distributed by the Tribune Content Agency and was published by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Adams’ recent work on NLP’s behalf in Rockford, Ill., was the focus of an Aug. 13 column by Rockford Register Star Executive Editor Mark Baldwin on the value of news literacy education. Adams was also quoted in an item on news literacy published by Northern Public Radio, NPR’s affiliate in DeKalb, IL.

NLP Spotlight

Facing Ferguson: A Fruitful Partnership and a Timely News Literacy Resource

The shooting of Michael Brown provoked emotions that brought decades of tensions to the forefront of American consciousness.

The shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, by white police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Mo., two years ago touched off a national debate about race and policing, galvanized nascent social and political movements and surfaced anew a variety of historic American tensions and conflicts. 

The shooting, and the subsequent decision by a grand jury not to indict Wilson, also generated an explosion of information. Americans saw an avalanche of raw images and video, rumors, propaganda and other forms of misinformation, along with a massive amount of news coverage. This body of information and the story of how particular pieces of it were created, perceived and shared represent a rich and challenging trove of news literacy lessons. Echoes of these lessons can be seen in the aftermath of similar events nationwide.

This month, the News Literacy Project launches an exciting resource in partnership with Facing History and Ourselves, a highly respected global nonprofit that seeks to create a more humane and informed citizenry through the exploration of racism, prejudice and anti-Semitism in major national and historical events. 

“Facing Ferguson: News Literacy in a Digital Age” is an 11-lesson unit that helps teachers guide students through an honest, reflective examination of the tsunami of information that followed the polarizing events of Ferguson.

"'Facing Ferguson' provides teachers with an essential resource that can help students develop the critical thinking and news literacy skills they need to interpret news and events, make decisions, take action, and responsibly share news and information through social media," said Marc Skvirsky, Facing History’s vice president and chief program officer. "We can imagine no more timely and necessary resource."

In many ways, Ferguson follows a familiar pattern for news literacy learning — one found in almost all breaking news events, especially those that are politically charged: Rumors and misinformation quickly spread; people react immediately, hunkering down into their existing viewpoints and biases; sources offer conflicting accounts and journalists scramble to verify the details as they emerge; some news organizations move too quickly and circulate inaccurate information in early reports; and pundits and partisans spin theories, share speculation and try to score political points. 

In “Facing Ferguson,” students experience and explore the power that confirmation bias and other implicit biases hold over ordinary citizens, officials and journalists alike, and learn the importance of journalistic standards in seeking to present accurate, fair and dispassionate information. 

The unit also contains lessons about the prominence of social media in the aftermath of the shooting, and helps students confront the challenges that chaotic breaking news events present to journalists trying to verify information. It calls on students to make difficult news judgments, delves into the ethical and representational dilemmas posed by images of events and people, and helps students explore how the press and citizens play a watchdog role in today’s society.

A series of short original videos with commentary by more than 20 journalists, students and scholars is integrated throughout the unit, as are news reports, social media posts and other pieces of information created during the unrest. This approach gives teachers and students a variety of access points, perspectives and ways to understand the unit’s core news literacy concepts. 

Facing History is sharing this resource with more than 120,000 educators in its global network and more broadly through blog posts, social media, and its extensive network of educational partners. You can register on the Facing History website and bookmark the resource here. In December, the News Literacy Project and Facing History will highlight "Facing Ferguson" at a panel discussion and hands-on workshop during the annual conference of the National Council for the Social Studies in Washington.

The resource was funded by a grant from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

NLP Profile

Matea Gold and David Gonzalez: Winners of the Inaugural John S. Carroll Journalist Fellow Award for Outstanding Service to NLP

Washington Post reporter Matea Gold (center), with Lee Carroll, John’s widow, and NLP President Alan Miller. Photo by Damaso Reyes

When the News Literacy Project launched its classroom program with an event at Williamsburg Collegiate Charter School on Feb. 2, 2009, Matea Gold, then a New York-based reporter for the Los Angeles Times and one of NLP’s first volunteer journalist fellows, was right up front in the packed auditorium.

That afternoon, David Gonzalez of The New York Times became the first NLP journalist fellow to deliver a lesson. He urged enthralled eighth-grade history students at the Brooklyn middle school to tell the story of their neighborhoods because if they didn’t, someone else would — and might not get it right.

Gold and Gonzalez have remained deeply involved with NLP. They have delivered numerous lessons, led virtual visits, appeared in videos and participated in events. Gold has written about NLP and leads a lesson in its new checkology™ virtual classroom; Gonzalez introduced NLP to key school partners in New York. Both are favorites of teachers and students and have been indispensable to NLP staff.

Hence, it is fitting that they are the recipients of the inaugural John S. Carroll Journalist Fellow Award, presented in honor of the revered former newspaper editor and NLP board chair. 

The award also recognizes the contributions of more than 300 journalists who have collectively delivered more than 600 lessons in person and virtually since 2009.

“David and Matea epitomize the invaluable contributions of scores of journalist fellows who are at the heart of NLP’s success,” said Alan Miller, NLP’s founder and president. “We are delighted to recognize the expertise, experience, skill and commitment that they have generously shared with our teachers and students, and to honor John’s memory as well.”

The New York Times’ David Gonzalez gives students at De La Salle Academy in New York City a look at his photography after leading a photojournalism workshop. Photo by Meredith W. Gonçalves

The two were selected by a committee of NLP board members and staff; they receive $500 and a glass plaque with an etched photo of Carroll. Maggie Farley, the chair of NLP’s D.C. advisory committee, and her husband, Marcus Brauchli, sponsored the initial awards.

Gold, now a national correspondent at The Washington Post, received her award in July during an NLP staff retreat dinner in Bethesda, Md., attended by Lee Carroll, John’s widow. The former editor of the Los Angeles Times, The Baltimore Sun and the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader died in June 2015.

Gonzalez, who has been a reporter, a columnist, a photographer and co-editor of the Lens Blog in his 26 distinguished years at the Times, will receive his award at a lunch in New York this fall.

 “We just have to get the next generation to understand that what we do is so valuable,” Gold said about her commitment to NLP upon receiving the award. “This is the answer.” 


The News Literacy Project (NLP) is an innovative national education program that equips middle school and high school students with the tools to be smart, active consumers of news and information and engaged, informed citizens.

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 © 2016 The News Literacy Project. All rights reserved.