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February 2015

President's Message
Dear NLP Friends and Supporters,

The News Literacy Project’s story line for 2015 will focus on our dramatic national growth.

The initial steps toward this goal are reflected in NLP News: Promising pilot programs in Houston. High-profile digital-first news organizations joining our ranks. Two engaging new Learn Channel lessons (one of them, “How to Make the Most of Wikipedia,” is our featured video).

But the biggest step in NLP’s leap to national scale will be the availability of our open-access digital news literacy unit this spring. This process will culminate in the fall with the release of a cutting-edge e-learning platform that we are designing and producing in partnership with two highly accomplished outside firms. You can read about these major developments in our Spotlight feature.

Our NLP Profile focuses on Tasmiyah Rahman, a 10th-grade NLP student at Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn and a member of our youth advisory committee. Tasmiyah says that “watching the news or reading newspapers is helping me connect to the world.”

Finally, we are grateful for new grants from four of our loyal funders, whose generous support, joined by others, is making this ambitious growth possible. We hope you share our excitement about NLP’s future.

All the best,


Alan C. Miller








How to Make the Most of Wikipedia

Librarians from the Chicago Public Library help students evaluate the credibility of the information they find in the popular online encyclopedia and show them how to make the best use of the site in their research.

NLP News
Houston Expansion, New Partners, New Online Lessons, New Staffers and Four New Grants

Paul Saltzman, Chicago Sun-Times assistant managing editor for projects, leads students at DePaul College Prep through a lesson about news judgment. Photo by Mary Owen

NLP has launched a pilot program in Houston, our first expansion into a new region since we began working in Chicago in 2009. The first classroom unit, involving 117 students in four sections of 8th-grade English at Lanier Middle School in central Houston, started on Jan. 20. We expect to reach an additional 108 students in two other schools this semester.

In another sign of growth, NLP is delighted to welcome BuzzFeed and Vice as our newest participating news organizations. They are among an increasing number of digital-first companies whose journalists will teach news literacy lessons in our classrooms, either in person or virtually. A student field trip to Vice’s office in Brooklyn is planned for the spring.

We’re also adding to our open-access educational assets, posting two Learn Channel lessons this month. In “How to Make the Most of Wikipedia,” librarians from the Chicago Public Library help students evaluate the credibility of the information they find in the popular online encyclopedia and show them how to make the best use of it in their research.

In “Journalistic Ethics: Avoiding Conflicts of Interest,” an interactive video with embedded multiple-choice questions, Walt Mossberg, co-executive editor of Re/code and an NLP board member, explores the importance of journalistic ethics and their value to news consumers.

We’re proud to welcome two impressive staffers as well.

Erika Hobbs, an experienced journalist and educator, has joined NLP as Chicago program manager. She was a reporter at The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Center for Public Integrity and the Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel, where she covered education for five years, and she has been an adjunct instructor in writing and journalism at four colleges and universities.

Elis Estrada, who previously served as NLP’s part-time program assistant in New York, has returned as our full-time New York coordinator. She was an associate producer at NY1’s consumer investigative unit and has a master’s degree from CUNY’s Graduate School of Journalism.

We're also pleased to acknowledge renewed financial support from four of our foundation and corporate donors.

Bloomberg LP awarded a grant of $150,000, a dramatic increase in support. The funds will pay for the continuation of successful after-school and classroom partnerships between Bloomberg bureaus in New York, Washington and Chicago and a partner school in each of those regions. The grant also provides support for the design of the new e-learning platform that NLP is producing.

The David and Katherine Moore Family Foundation renewed its support with a $35,000 grant to dramatically expand NLP’s reach and impact in New York City public schools. The late David Moore was the grandson of Joseph Pulitzer, who endowed the Pulitzer Prizes and was the publisher of The World, one of the best-known newspapers in New York City in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

The Gannett Foundation has provided a $20,000 grant to help NLP continue our classroom programs in high schools in Fairfax County, Va. Gannett is also contributing funds to a partnership with the Fairfax County Public Schools After-school Programs.

The Dow Jones Foundation has approved a $10,000 grant to fund a new Learn Channel lesson featuring Jim Pensiero, the editor for talent at The Wall Street Journal and an NLP journalist fellow. In the lesson, he will discuss the paper’s coverage of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The foundation is also a major funder of NLP’s new e-learning platform.

Ron Claiborne

  Power of Deception
Ron Claiborne, an ABC News correspondent and the news anchor for the weekend edition of “Good Morning America,” is the host of NLP’s national digital unit, introducing and summarizing lessons throughout.   NLP’s digital unit now includes embedded multiple-choice and short-answer questions, like this one from a lesson on fact-checking viral emails, led by Matea Gold, a political reporter for The Washington Post.

NLP Spotlight
New E-learning Platform Will Be NLP's Primary Path to National Scale

The News Literacy Project’s digital unit is undergoing a significant redesign to incorporate some of the most cutting-edge tools and methods in online learning.

The new unit, set to launch in the fall, will be part of a larger e-learning platform that will include individualized learning, interactive assessments that reflect and develop higher-order skills, and detailed student performance and progress analytics for teachers, as well as digital badges and points to motivate students to develop and apply their news literacy skills.

“This ambitious new e-learning platform will be a first-rate resource for teachers and serve as NLP’s primary path to national scale,” said Alan Miller, NLP’s president and founder.

In January, NLP contracted with a Pittsburgh-based digital media agency, Actual Size, and programmers at The Nerdery, headquartered in Bloomington, Minn., to help develop the new platform. The project is made possible through grants from the Dow Jones Foundation, Bloomberg LP, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation and the Hive Chicago Learning Network.

The design of the new online platform began in January and is expected to take 10 months.

When completed, this new resource will deliver a variety of NLP's open-access digital lessons to teachers anywhere. It will also enable subscribers to build class lists and assign sequences of lessons, then engage with students to provide guidance on their progress. The platform will award digital badges and points, giving students a credential for their new skills and encouraging them to complete additional lessons on their own.

The lessons that make up the core unit will reflect NLP's four main learning targets: helping students understand news judgment and journalism standards; teaching them the importance of the watchdog role of a free and independent press in a democracy; giving them the ability to evaluate the credibility of the information they encounter; and demonstrating both the challenges and the opportunities of the 21st-century information landscape.

NLP's digital program has greatly expanded its reach in the 2½ years since it was launched. It has been implemented at scores of schools and has reached thousands of students in Chicago, New York City and the Washington area.

In that time, the unit has evolved from its origins as a series of more conventional digital lessons to a version with motion graphics, formative assessment questions and print-based resources. The current version also includes a live news literacy lesson with an NLP journalist via a monthly videoconference.

NLP plans to adapt portions of the current unit for open-access release on its Learn Channel this spring. Teachers in NLP's four regions — New York City, Chicago, Houston and Washington — who are interested in registering for the current unit can do so here.

NLP Profile

Tasmiyah Rahman (right), a sophomore at Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn, works with a classmate on a news literacy blog for their Mass Media class. Photo by Elis Estrada

Tasmiyah Rahman: Connecting to the World Through the News

Tasmiyah Rahman was absent the day that Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn was on lockdown for several hours after a teacher reported seeing three people she didn’t recognize carrying what she thought were knives in the school.

“I got a message from a friend who said, ‘Tas, I heard your school is on lockdown. It’s all over the news,’” said Tasmiyah, who is in the 10th-grade.
While rumors swirled, reporters for the school’s award-winning newspaper, The Murrow Network, worked on an article about the lockdown under the guidance of Scott Menscher, who is Tasmiyah’s Intro to Journalism teacher and the newspaper’s adviser. They discovered that according to police, the three people in the building were students who were carrying scissors, not knives, to class at the request of their teacher.

Tasmiyah said the experience provided a powerful lesson about the need to discern verified information from rumors and misinformation.

This semester, Tasmiyah is sharpening her news literacy skills in another of Menscher’s classes, Mass Media, where she is completing a News Literacy Project unit that includes lessons on the use of journalism standards to assess credibility and on the watchdog role of a free press in a democracy.

“Before Mr. Menscher’s classes, I would read newspapers, but I wouldn’t really pay attention to what the information actually meant,” said Tasmiyah.

Now, she says, “I read The New York Times because we have a news quiz every week, and my dad reads the New York Post. We’ll both read articles about the same topic in the different newspapers and compare the information.”

Tasmiyah, whose family emigrated from Bangladesh, recently became the New York representative on NLP’s youth advisory committee.

“Living in America, we should know what’s going on," Tasmiyah said, "and watching the news or reading newspapers is helping me connect to the world.”

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) 2015 The News Literacy Project. All rights reserved.

The News Literacy Project
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Bethesda, MD 20814