This WAN-IFRA Youth & News Media report series explores news literacy initiatives around the world (outside the United States) that have been created by or could involve news publishers. It was commissioned by the American Press Institute. Click on the title below to see each installment and the bar below that for the database of more than 100 examples.
INSTALLMENTS OF THE REPORT
INTRODUCING THE REPORT SERIES: Why publishers are -- or should be -- engaged in news literacy, and what will come in seven installments.
Washington Post executive editor Marty Baron told an audience at the 2016 MediaXchange: "Journalism means we get to the bottom of a story. Content is picking up an iPhone and taking a picture...anybody can do that." Involvement in the various facets of news literacy, a subset of what UNESCO "media and information literacy," has offered news publishers a practical strategy for helping children and teenagers learn how to make that distinction - and more.
News publishers are logical players. News, especially local news that allows for high participation, is their unique selling product. Nobody does it better. Furthermore, in at least 60 countries, they and their national associations have created an unbeatable legacy of trust by helping teachers teach about journalism - and everything else - as part of classic news in education (NIE). Those programs put print then digital editions into classes as a welcome supplemental resource to help teach just about anything.
WHY PUBLISHERS NEED TO BE INVOLVED
In today’s digital environment with its widely expanded field of people teaching media and information literacy, publishers need to be involved in this work to ensure that lessons about news media include an understanding of professional journalism practice and an appreciation of the role of journalism in a democracy.
Such work can largely come under the aegis of “news literacy,” the subset of media and information literacy that focuses on the content produced by journalistic reporting. A unique strength of news literacy comes from its originators - journalists - with the natural emphasis on informed questioning of all information.
WAN-IFRA strongly endorses this core philosophy and an approach that puts an understanding of how journalism works, the dangers to some of those who do it, and its purpose in encouraging democracy at the very start of any media and information literacy activity. This understanding needs to come well before the classic deconstruction of media messages or there is a high risk of creating a generation that is contemptuous of journalism at the outset. (More about the origins of news literacy HERE.)
Thus for WAN-IFRA, news publisher involvement in news literacy means helping citizens -- especially children and teenagers -- understand, value and participate in 21st-century journalism in a democracy (even a fledgling one) as they analyse all kinds of content through a journalistic prism.
A PART OF TOTAL YOUTH THINK (also known as Millennials strategy)
Concentrating on helping young people begin to use, participate in and navigate the news is a key component of an approach to taking young people seriously that WAN-IFRA coined as “Total Youth Think” about a decade ago.
It is a philosophy that is still crucial to our constituency of news publishers everywhere. That philosophy calls largely for an multifaceted approach: watch your basic coverage by treating young people as normal, get involved in important life-stage firsts from early on, participate in the networked buzz and in the causes that matter to the young and do all that in a company that encourages intergenerational staffing as you focus on the values and newest innovations in journalism together.
Total Youth Think also calls for teaching about journalism and providing news literacy support for teachers and parents. It is those last two elements that provide the focus of this report. (More about Total Youth Think HERE.)
Part of this work is not new, but rather creatively modernised versions of effective strategies that expose children and teenagers to the powerful experience of doing journalism or of using the news in class. However key parts add important new dimensions to the work. As internet access, cellphone ownership and social media use increase among children and teenagers all over the world, they face new learning and life challenges and also a new role as a key part of the news dissemination process.
NEXT FOR WAN-IFRA
WAN-IFRA’s own next steps will put an emphasis on creating resources and guidance for teaching children and teenagers how to approach all content through the prism of professional journalism. WAN-IFRA believes there is an opportunity for publishers and educators to work together to do even more: help young people learn to wisely navigate all kinds of messages and to verify before they share, while also learning to appreciate how journalism is different from other content. Framing the activities of source criticism, verification, etc. as the normal work of reporters adds both the potential for fun, as a reporter and therefore the judge rather than the victim of false content, well as the added value of learning about how newsgathering works.
In the total of seven parts that will appear in the coming weeks, we will describe actions from outside the United States (see below for why not in the USA) of news literacy-related actions on the local, regional and national level that publishers have helped to do in order to help create a new generation that is literate, civic-minded, media-savvy and capable of navigating all kinds of “content.” In addition, we have included initiatives by other kinds of organisations that offer useful models that publishers can adapt to their own countries. Finally, the approach from one country where expression is far from free can serve as a model for approaching the future most anywhere.
#1. GUIDE IN DIGITAL SPACE: Focusing efforts - and leading - on the platforms young people are already using.
[PUBLISHED] Smart news publishers are linking existing digital behaviour by young people to their journalism and to other paths of engagement. In the process, they are learning themselves about social media use and the potential of new kinds of connections and participation. Perhaps even more importantly, some local publishers have become leaders in introducing young people to the potential and limits of each platform as they help teach the news literacy skills of navigating all digital content.
#2. TEACH ABOUT FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: Developing an understanding of the link between freedom of expression and of the press.
[Coming 22 March]
Without learning how press freedom is allied with freedom of expression, it’s easy to dismiss news media as simply getting unwarranted special treatment. Examples here include initiatives explaining press freedom that feature some fun and explanations for young people of the dangers involved that are tailored to their life stages.
#3. CREATE WAYS TO TRY JOURNLAISM: Providing experiences that help young people explore newsmaking themselves
[Coming 27 March]
One of the best ways to understand and appreciate the work of the journalistic enterprise is to realise that the gathering and dissemination of news is not so easy. Initiatives that expose young people to the work of news come in a wide variety: from highly elaborate to very simple.
#4. PROMOTE ENCOUNTERS WITH JOURNALISTS: Face-to-face encounters can benefit both young people and journalists.
[Coming 3 April.]
Good guides and examples exist for how a journalist can engage students without being boring or preachy. News-related initiatives can help news publishing staff - editors marketers, etc. - learn about who young people really are, getting past the mythology. For example, WAN-IFRA took inspiration from several projects to launch recently the World Teenage News Takeover initiative that calls for editors to give control of some part of their normal daily content to some group of teenagers at least once in November of each year.
#5. HELP THE INFLUENCERS: Do actions that add value for both parents and teachers.
[Coming 10 April]
Any effort for teachers must add value, not an additional burden, and parents need help guiding, or even keeping up with, their children’s media use.
#6. EXPLORE THE NEW NEWS FOR KIDS: Considering a new breed of special content for children and teenagers.
[Coming 17 April]
News targeting children has changed. Print editions have a new, and profitable, shine and digital offerings finally make practical sense. From varied directions, evidence is emerging that young people like to create and read print in some surprising contexts.
#7. CONSIDER THIS EXAMPLE FOR CREATING THE FUTURE.
[Coming 24 April]
The top winner in the 2016 World Young Reader Prize competition, The Star of Malaysia’s R.AGE youth initiative, offers an example of a structure that creates an ongoing view toward the future, whatever that may bring.
More than 100 ideas to try based on what news publishers or other inspiring organizations have done in more than 40 countries.
To help it consider strategic initiatives in news literacy and other news in education work that involves - or could involve - news publishers, the American Press Institute asked WAN-IFRA to investigate good practice outside the United States. This report is the result of that inquiry and concentrates on work involving primary and secondary students, with some attention to the youngest adults up to age 25 (WAN-IFRA’s definition of “youth”.) In addition, WAN-IFRA created a database of 130 cases of news literacy actions around the world that could be of interest to news publishers.
WAN-IFRA has engaged in news in education and other youth engagement actions around the world since 1991. It has helped countries start news in education work, created global initiatives and, notably through its annual World Young Reader Prize, actively seeks intelligence about the latest innovation in the field.
The lead author of this report is Dr. Aralynn McMane (France, aralynn.mcmane[at]wan-ifra.org) WAN-IFRA executive director for news literacy and youth engagement, assisted by Wendy Tribaldos (Panama) a member of the WAN-IFRA global committee on youth and news media. Thanks also to Nolwazi Mjwara for her volunteer design and editing assistance.