Social Media

April 2013


President's Message

Dear NLP Friends and Supporters,

It is my pleasure to send you NLP's inaugural newsletter. With your help, we have come a long way since our launch just five years ago.

We hope you will be as excited as we are with news of our progress as we grow our program to national scale.

As last week's tragic events showed yet again, the evolving media landscape makes it imperative that the American people have the capability to be skeptical, engaged and informed consumers of news and public information.

In this issue, we will give you a sense of where NLP is today, highlight our innovative all-digital unit that figures prominently in our future, and share our first profile of an NLP participant.

As always, we welcome your feedback. With your continued support and involvement, we look forward to dramatic growth in NLP's reach and impact.

Alan C. Miller

Click this image to learn about NLP digital unit.

NLP Headlines

The Washington Post published a feature story on the News Literacy Project in its April 16 editions. The piece focused on NLP's fast-growing program in the D.C. region, which now includes partnerships with three charter schools in the District, two high schools in Montgomery County, Md., and a high school in Fairfax County, Va.

NLP was also featured in a report in the April 11 issue of the Chronicle of Philanthropy that looked at five nonprofits nationally that have thrived despite launching during the recession of 2008. The report singled out NLP as a nonprofit that benefited by building in an assessment of its impact from the start and consistently upgrading its evaluation tools.

James Grimaldi, a Wall Street Journal reporter, speaks to students at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, Md. Photo by Billy Bird

NLP News
News Literacy Project Poised for Dramatic Growth

The News Literacy Project has grown rapidly since we kicked off our classroom program in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Feb. 2, 2009, and is poised for even more dramatic growth in the future.

This school year our classroom and after-school programs are used by more than 55 teachers in 27 schools to reach nearly 2,500 students in New York City, Chicago and the Washington, D.C., region. We're partnering with nearly as many schools to reach about 1,300 additional students with our all-digital pilot in Chicago and New York (see NLP Spotlight).

Our school partners are among the most dynamic and diverse in each of our regions. Our range is also extensive: We're reaching students in middle schools and high schools; in inner cities and suburbs; in public, charter and parochial schools. Moreover, our highly adaptable units are being delivered in English, history, government, humanities and journalism classes.

By the end of this school year, we will have reached nearly 10,000 students, and our journalist fellows will have made more than 500 presentations, in just five years.

But we are about more than just reach; we are focused on impact as well. Thus, we have made assessment a key component of our program from the start.

We now plan to build on this strong foundation. In the coming months we expect to:

  • Extend our participation in the Chicago Public Schools' Social Studies 3.0 initiative to introduce more real-world learning into the classroom by training teachers in news literacy;
  • Expand into Washington's Northern Virginia suburbs in partnership with the Fairfax County Public Schools and the Gannett Foundation;
  • Complete an innovative after-school program with an East Harlem middle school in partnership with Bloomberg News;
  • Adopt an ambitious three-year operational plan designed to move NLP to national scale in a sustainable way with continued demonstrable impact.

We look forward to sharing these and other developments with you in the months ahead.

photo of students doing du in Chicago  
Ron Claiborne, a reporter and anchor at ABC News, hosts NLP's New York City digital unit.   Students at Percy Julian High School in Chicago work on NLP's digital unit in March. Photo by Kyle LaMere

NLP Spotlight
The News Literacy Project’s Digital Unit: The Prime Path to National Scale

Jade French, a senior at Alcott High School in Chicago, completed the News Literacy Project's all-digital unit last December. Her response was typical of students and teachers who have done the unit thus far.

"Tying in the real world makes us feel like we're important as human beings and as growing young adults," French said. "I'll carry that with me forever."

French is one of nearly 1,000 students who have completed the compact, one-week unit in Chicago since it was first piloted last June. Students in New York participated in the first pilot unit there last month.

NLP views this innovative approach as its prime path to reach national scale in a sustainable way with significant impact.

The unit is a blended e-learning experience that is broken into five 45-minute segments, each of which consists of three to four digital lessons and prompts for teacher-led discussion. The content is designed to be delivered in a computer lab setting, with one screen per student, and includes a guide that provides teachers with discussion prompts, homework assignments and technical and logistical support.

The first four days of the unit are aligned with NLP's four essential questions, and the fifth day contains a capstone activity using NLP's "How to Know What to Believe" infographic.

The unit also involves a live webinar with an NLP journalist volunteer during the afternoon of the fourth day, which students are assigned to join from home or another location with a high-speed Internet connection.

This spring, the webinars are scheduled from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. EDT on May 16 and June 16. If you would like to register for a guest invitation to one of these live online events, you may do so here.

The Chicago-based unit is narrated by Nancy Loo of WGN News Chicago and features Fernando Diaz, managing editor of Hoy; Manya Brachear, religion reporter at the Chicago Tribune; Paul Saltzman, metro editor at the Chicago Sun-Times; and Steve Edwards, a former reporter and host at WBEZ Chicago, along with volunteers from the Associated Press and the Chicago Sun-Times.

NLP has completed three rounds of pilots with 11 schools and about 750 students in Chicago thus far this school year. The project captured some of the teachers' and students' overwhelmingly favorable comments in a video that can be viewed here.

In New York, NLP launched its first digital unit at the Frank Sinatra School for the Arts in Queens last month and plans to offer additional units this spring.

The New York unit includes the same learning content, narrated by New York journalists. The host is Ron Claiborne, a veteran reporter and anchor at ABC News. The unit also features Cheryl Wills, a reporter and weekend anchor for NY1 News; Lam Thuy Vo, a digital reporter for NPR's "Planet Money"; and Jonathan Woods, a photo editor at Time.

A Washington digital unit featuring journalists in the nation's capital will launch this fall.

Student Aaron Felton (front right) talks with Lolly Bowean, a Chicago Tribune reporter, at the Chicago Military Academy. Photo by Mary Owen

NLP Profile
Aaron Felton: Sparking an Interest in Reading and the News

For the first part of the school year, Aaron Felton had sat quietly in his freshman English class, drawing pictures and rarely speaking. That changed when teacher Carol Moran started her news literacy lessons in January.

"As soon as I said 'news literacy' he just lit up," said Moran, who teaches at Chicago Military Academy on the city's South Side. "I've never seen him like this. It was an extremely pleasant surprise to see him spark."

While the rest of Moran's 140 students were being introduced to news literacy, Felton had learned about it every year for the last three years. From 6th through 8th grades, he attended Marquette Elementary School, the home of NLP's Chicago pilot.

"News literacy told me how to be skeptical and you can't just listen to one source because one source could be false," said Felton, 15.

Moreover, those early lessons about reliable sources and bias ignited Felton's interest in journalism as a career. He said he now regularly reads and watches the news — an interest he shares with his grandmother, with whom he said he discusses current events.

"Before, I wasn't used to reading the news," he said. "I didn't like to read. News literacy helped because I started reading newspapers and I liked reading. It gave me a sense of knowledge that I wouldn't have had before."

During the news literacy lessons, Moran said, Felton is engaged, chatty and "ready to jump out of his seat."

"He just spouts off all of his knowledge," she said. "He has definitely made himself the class expert on news literacy."

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) 2013 The News Literacy Project. All rights reserved.