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December 2015

President's Message
Dear NLP Friends and Supporters,

In this holiday season, we are pleased to acknowledge the exceptional organizations and individuals who have blessed us with their support, partnership and participation. We are particularly grateful for those who have been with us for many years — some almost right from the start.

In NLP News, we announce renewed backing from two longtime donors: the David and Katherine Moore Family Foundation, which has funded NLP every year since 2009, and the Gannett Foundation, whose continuous support began in 2010. We also welcome our newest board member, Juliet Stipeche, the former president of the Houston Independent School District board.

In our Spotlight feature, we focus on our collaboration with HBO and its Young Media Minds program. HBO recently renewed its support for 2016 with funds for this partnership and for NLP classroom units in two New York City schools. This will be the company’s fifth year as a funder.

Our Video is a news literacy lesson in itself: an excerpt of an innovative resource we are creating with Facing History and Ourselves. “Facing Ferguson” will offer engaging news literacy lessons drawing on the news and information produced in the aftermath of the shooting of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., in August 2014. This resource will be introduced early next year.

Finally, our Profile focuses on Tracie Potts, an NBC News reporter who has been a mainstay in our Washington, D.C., program since 2009. In addition to making numerous classroom visits, Tracie has narrated video lessons, has appeared in promotional materials and was featured in a report on NLP in The Washington Post.

Such partners and participants are truly a gift.

Speaking of gifts, we wish all of you a joyous holiday season and a most happy, healthy and news-literate New Year!

All the best,

Alan C. Miller







In partnership with Facing History and Ourselves, we’re developing a unit that examines the news and information aftermath in Ferguson, Mo., following the shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer in August 2014. Check out this excerpt of one of our video exercises; the full resource will be available on Facing History’s website early in 2016.


Join and Share

This Thursday, Dec. 17, at 1 p.m. EST, the News Literacy Project is sponsoring an exciting news literacy learning event: “Exposing Injustice: Laquan McDonald and the Press.” Register now for this live, interactive videoconference, which will feature Natalie Moore, the South Side reporter at WBEZ in Chicago.

Please join us for this free event, which is scheduled to run for an hour, and share this invitation with others, including teachers and students, who might be interested.

NLP News
A New Board Member, a New Teachable Moments Item and Renewed Funding

The News Literacy Project is delighted to welcome the newest member of our board — Juliet Stipeche, an attorney and the former president of the Houston Independent School District (HISD) board. Juliet has served five years on the HISD board; her current term ends Dec. 31. She is a partner at the law firm Nagorny & Stipeche P.C. and associate director of the Richard Tapia Center for Excellence & Equity at Rice University. Juliet is the third distinguished individual to join NLP’s board since October.

Students in an NLP class at Chicago's DePaul Prep visited Rivet Radio, a smart audio platform, to learn how journalists there are working to reinvent news listening for the digital age. Photo by Brittany Brown

Last month, Roy J. Harris Jr., a former reporter at The Wall Street Journal, wrote a thoughtful essay (“‘Spotlight’: A Movie’s Lessons About Great Journalism”) for our Teachable Moments blog. The piece was distributed by the Tribune Content Agency and made available to its subscribers around the world. The highly regarded film focuses on The Boston Globe’s investigation of the sexual abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church — a series of reports that won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 2003. Harris wrote about the Globe’s reporting on this story in his book “Pulitzer’s Gold: A Century of Public Service Journalism.”

Finally, we’re pleased to announce grants from two steadfast funders:

  • The Gannett Foundation has approved a $20,000 grant for NLP to deliver its classroom program at George C. Marshall High School in Fairfax County, Va., in 2016. This will be the seventh consecutive year that the foundation has supported NLP.

  • The David and Katherine Moore Family Foundation has awarded NLP a supplemental grant for $5,000 for general support. The foundation, which gave NLP $35,000 earlier this year, has been an annual supporter since 2009. The late David Moore, a former member of NLP’s New York City advisory committee, was a grandson of Joseph Pulitzer, who in 1917 bequeathed the funds that established the Pulitzer Prizes, journalism’s highest honor.

NLP Spotlight
NLP-HBO Partnership: Empowering Students With Critical Thinking

Yamiche Alcindor, a reporter with The New York Times, shows students the layout of a news organization’s website and explains how editors decide what goes on the home page. Photo by Tracey Noelle Luz

With only 10 minutes remaining in class, students huddled in groups and hurriedly debated the day’s news.

“I think this should be the top story,” said one eighth-grader.

“I disagree,” said another. “The story about the stock market plunging would be more important and affects more people.”

The students were acting as editors assigned to decide the day’s most compelling news from a list of possible stories. In the process, they were applying their newly acquired news judgment — a skill they learned in a News Literacy Project lesson taught by Yamiche Alcindor, a reporter for The New York Times and an NLP journalist fellow.

Eighth-grade students from the Future Leaders Institute in Harlem work together on an activity to determine what makes a story newsworthy.
Photo by Tracey Noelle Luz

The lesson, created to equip students with an understanding of what makes a story newsworthy, was part of a series of workshops with HBO’s Young Media Minds program for students from the Future Leaders Institute, a charter school in Harlem. This fall, for the third straight year, NLP staff and journalist fellows delivered news literacy lessons to the after-school media arts program.

“We realized that this was something that we really wanted to keep, because it allowed students to walk away with a better sense of their own critical-thinking skills,” said Toccarra Cash, HBO’s media literacy facilitator, who runs the program.

Those skills — like news judgment and an appreciation of the role of a free press in a democracy — give students the power to be more engaged in school and in their communities, according to Cash. “They totally understood what was going on, and it made them feel empowered,” she said.

April Torres helps to oversee Young Media Minds through HBO’s Office of Corporate and Social Responsibility, which funds the network’s partnership with NLP. She said that a student who completed the program last year told her recently that the NLP lessons “provided real-time tools that he could use right away and in other areas of his life. This was wonderful to hear.”

The partnership has helped to expand NLP’s network in New York City. HBO funds NLP classroom programs in two other New York City schools, and the company’s introduction of NLP to the Future Leaders Institute led to the development of a separate news literacy classroom program at the school.
“The biggest benefit of the NLP program for our students,” said Daniel Nee, a humanities teacher at Future Leaders, “is that it has helped them recognize that they cannot simply trust or believe everything they read just because it was published or posted online.”

NLP Profile
Tracie Potts: Engaging Students, Inspiring Questions

Whenever Tracie Potts teaches a news literacy lesson at Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter School in Washington, teacher Kyle Morean knows that his class is going to run long.

Tracie Potts of NBC News discusses news literacy issues with high school students at Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter School in Washington. “She is an outstanding guest and engaging presenter,” said teacher Kyle Morean. Photo by Joni Lucas-Shapiro

“My students are eager to keep asking her questions,” said Morean, who teaches news and media literacy to high school students. “She is an outstanding guest and engaging presenter.”

Potts, a Capitol Hill correspondent for NBC News, is a longtime NLP star. She has delivered more than a dozen lessons in person and virtually, has served as the host of the D.C. region’s digital unit, and will be featured in NLP’s CHECKOLOGY™ e-learning platform, to be launched in early 2016, in a lesson on understanding different kinds of information.

Her involvement with the News Literacy Project began soon after NBC News became a participating news organization in 2009. Upon receiving a memo to NBC staff about NLP’s mission (“to go out and talk to young people about balance and fairness and how we do our job”), she didn’t hesitate. “That appealed to me,” she recalled. “I immediately responded.”

She has appeared at middle schools and high schools in Montgomery County, Md., as well as in Washington (once she was delayed by a foreign prime minister’s motorcade near Capitol Hill), and has taught lessons in New York City and Chicago classrooms via Skype.

A 2013 Washington Post article, “Schools demanding news literacy lessons to teach students how to find fact amid fiction,” featured her engagement with students in a media literacy class at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Md.

Potts’ interaction with students comes as easily for her as being on camera.

The mother of two, she is a volunteer with her church’s youth auxiliary and has been active in the PTSA organizations at her children’s schools for the past nine years. She’s currently the PTSA president at her son’s middle school.

Potts’ workday begins in the dead of night: She arrives at her Capitol Hill office at 2:30 a.m. If needed, she delivers a Washington feed to network affiliates at 4 a.m. By the time she arrives at a school for an NLP lesson, she has already completed a full day’s work.

Nonetheless, Morean marveled, she “somehow has the stamina to creatively engage high school students and explore the nuances of perspective versus bias through her work as a reporter for NBC. I continue to learn a lot from her each time she comes to class.”

Potts says that her experience with NLP “helps me as a journalist. How do you better keep tabs on what young people are thinking and feeling than going out and talking to them? They’re our future.”

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 © 2015 The News Literacy Project. All rights reserved.

The News Literacy Project
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Bethesda, MD 20814


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