World Association of News Publishers



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This is the second part of a WAN-IFRA Youth & News Media series about 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. Lead author is Aralynn McMane.


(NOTE: * denotes a WAN-IFRA Center of Youth Engagement Excellence and ** a winner of the WAN-IFRA World Young Reader Prize)

#2 TEACH ABOUT FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: Develop an understanding of the link between freedom of expression and of the press.

Without learning early how press freedom is allied with freedom of expression, it's easy to dismiss news media and journalists as simply getting unwarranted special treatment.

Thus, an important, basic news literacy message for the global audience focuses on the relationship between freedom of expression and of the press [news media] as supported by the Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


On behalf of the 30 000 news organizations it represents, WAN-IFRA devotes a considerable part of its own work to strengthening and defending news media.

Part of of that work means helping publishers teach their own audiences about the link between freedom of expression and freedom of the press and other news media. For example, WAN-IFRA created an animation  to explain the basics of freedom of the press and freedom of expression. The video [length 00:03:15] is available in English and also a version with some Arabic text.

WAN-IFRA also suggests a wide variety of activities news publishers can do to help students learn more and gert involved.

You join the larger conversation @FreeMediaWorld and learn more WAN-IFRA's extensive work in this area at

News publishers and their associations have taken a wide variety of approaches to help young people make the important and sometimes neglected connection between press freedom and freedom of expression, and also to help them understand the reality that in too many places journalists are killed or jailed for their work.

Sweden’s “Mediekompass” (Media Compass) project concentrated on teenagers by creating a multi-faceted lesson about press [news media] freedom that included rock music, hard questions and do-it-yourself newspaper censorship. “We wanted to give them an “Aha’ experience of what our society would be like if we didn’t have press freedom,” explained Lena Victorin, the program's manager. “We wanted young people audience to have to take a personal stand.” Seated in a huge audience, students voted with flag-colored cards on whether or not they thought they should be allowed to see different kinds of information and then heard from a panel of their classmates who had deleted content that was allowed to appear in a newspaper front page thanks only to Swedish press law. Most of the page was blacked out.

In the Netherlands, the national media business association created a Freedom of Expression Road Show that lets students play "dictator" and cut from local newspapers all the content they don't like.  "They have to delete five articles as if they were a dictator," explained Chris van Hall, Nieuws in de Klas [News in the Class]* manager for the association. "It is things as simple as their country losing a sporting event, but they really get the feeling of the power of censorship. In fact, they want to cut more and more and more.  It’s so easy to censor, and it gives power."  Teachers get a packet to help them go over with students the vocabulary of news, the function of news in a democracy, national and international regulations and limitations to freedom of speech and of the press. The goal is debate with a final step in which a visiting journalist leads a discussion. An animation [1:28 in Dutch] gives background. 

In Amman, Jordan, the "show" was literally a performance, with fewer lessons and more entertainment by young people to celebrate 3 May, World Press Freedom Day. The day was organized by the Center for Defending the Freedom of Journalists, which also worked with WAN-IFRA to set up a national news in education program in Jordan.  The show's line-up included performances of alternative music, drama, dance, short films and even stand-up comedy sketches.

For Jyllands-Posten in Denmark, the work was entirely serious with a program that targeted two different groups: primary and secondary school students and refugees in language schools throughout Denmark. The focus was on debates about freedom of expression, including criticizing religion. Students prepared for the debates using the an online Freedom of Expression package of news articles, videos and quizzes (in Danish). "Our project is about presenting new citizens with a culture of debate they are not born into and set the stage so that they can take part in that debate," said then editor, Pierre Collignon. Though the editor championing the project has left the organization, teachers are carrying on with more than 1000 consults of the materials each month.​


The reality that many journalists risk their freedom and their lives to do their jobs is a difficult story to tell, especially to younger children, but it can be done even for those youngest ages.

"What's Freedom of Expression?" is a highly effective short video in which stick figures act out the answer to that question.

It is part of the "One Day, One Question" series of videos lasting under two minutes produced by France Télévisins and Milan Press. Each video is based on a child's question, in this case from six-year-old Nathanaël.

This video explains the history of press freedom and describes how the 2015 murders of satirical cartoonists fit in that discussion. Within a very short time, the video attracted more than 15 times the usual 5000 views via the 1jour1actu site, and more than double the 10 000 norm on YouTube, according to Jean-Luc Monchy, marketing manager Milan Press.  The cost to make each animation is 1000 Euros, with an extra 100 Euros to dub into another language. The video [1:42] is in French and also with English subtitles donated by WAN-IFRA.

The lesson can also happen in print. For example, a special "Libérez mon papa" [Free my Father] issue of Journal des Enfants [JDE]** put the focus on interviews with the families of jailed journalists, who could explain the story in a more accessible way. In 2016, JDE expanded the discussion further with a feature about an artist, cartoonist and poet who all had to flee their countries because of their work.


Face-to-face encounters can be very powerful for this topic. In Austria, the Zeitung in der Schule [Newspapers in School]* program of the VOZ national publishers association* had a room full of primary school winners of a fun summer puzzle game listen to exiled journalists explain the press freedom situation in their own countires. A similar project in France sent exiled journalists into countryside classrooms of teenagers. "It is a very boisterous group of students normally," said a teacher whose class had listened to a reporter from Burundi. "I've never seen them so intensively attentive." For Austria:

Even the tiniest of companies have contributed to such efforts. When 34 journalists were killed while covering a Philippine election, Raia and Ruel Landicho, publishers of two small weeklies in the region of the deadly attack, organized a day of free workshops at their Sinag printing plant ** to help local young people understand the role of a free press. Ruel said at the time, "We believe that when press freedom is being attacked in our country ... it is important to teach our youth that journalism is a noble profession." They expected, at most, one hundred participants. One thousand attended.


WAN-IFRA has collected a variety of activities for teaching about press freedom that lend themselves to school-publisher partnerships, ranging from quick and simple to much more ambitious.


This report was specifically commissioned to concentrate on initiatives outside the United States, but we would be shirking our task if we did not give you at least one innovative U.S. example. In fact, we'll give you two.

1. NEWSEUM - The Newseum is a massive museum in Washington, DC, that offers a fantastic, interactive exploration of U.S. "First Amendment" freedoms of religion, speech, press, assembly and petitioning the government. Each year, it re-dedicates its Journalists Memorial as it adds new names to the massive list of reporters and other media workers who have died on duty. Both on site and online, visitors can research the stories of these men and women. The facility's examination of journalism is multifaceted and does not ignore the profession's excesses and failures. The Newseum is very closely tied to news publishing. It was founded by Allen Neuharth, who started three newspapers in the U.S., including USA Today, and also counts numerous current and former news publishing executives among its  trustees. 

Its NewseumED division offers extensive resources, most often primary resources, including to help teachers cover freedom of expression and freedom of the press. That division offers online and in-person training for both students and teachers and an massive array of news artifacts with lesson plans for how to use them in education. [The U.S. constitution's First Amendment was adopted as part of a "Bill of Rights" in 1787 and fully approved in 1788]

2. PRESS UNCUFFED - In 2015, Investigative reporter Dana Priest decided to have the students in her "National Security and Press Freedom Reporting" class at the University of Maryland do something new. At the beginning of the semester, Priest gave each student an imprisoned journalist’s name and picture.  Students had to not only research but also attempt to contact "their" journalist to write a story about freedom of the press. The results was not only stories but also Press Uncuffed, a continuing campaign with the Committee to Protect Journalists to free jailed journalists and that calls for wearing bracelets featuring a jailed journalist's name. The video [1:44] at left provides a good sense of the project.

DON'T FORGET NEWS[PAPERS] IN EDUCATION - Finally, it should be noted that News[papers] in Education (NIE) managers of publisher-educator partnerships on the local or state or even national level in the United States have taught news literacy as part of the work for decades, since at least the 1930s. An emphasis on freedom of expression and freedom of the press has always been a part of that effort.


Aralynn McMane's picture

Aralynn McMane


2017-03-13 10:04

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The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) helps newspapers, parents and teachers work together to engage the young to create a literate, civic-minded new generation of readers all over the world. Read more ...