Social Media

June 2014

President's Message

Dear NLP Friends and Supporters,

After getting our programs off the ground during the past six years, the News Literacy Project is now spreading its wings. This issue of our newsletter touches on a few of the many ways in which we're doing so.

NLP Spotlight focuses on our two presentations this month at the national conference of the Council on Foundations - one of which featured Gwen Ifill and six of our impressive high school students.

NLP Profile features a Chicago student who will bring his news literacy skills to a national summit on news literacy in the Windy City in September. We'll play a major role at this event as well.

NLP News notes three other national conferences where we'll be represented on panels this year.

Finally, our video, "News Literacy Is …," made its debut at the Council on Foundations conference. It showcases several NLP board members, teachers, students and journalist fellows (and includes a cameo by Peter Sagal, the host of NPR's "Wait, Wait … Don't Tell Me!").

We are grateful for the support and participation that helped us get to this moment. As always, we welcome your continued partnership as we raise our profile.

All the best,


Alan C. Miller









NLP's newest video focuses on the essence of news literacy and its role in the nation's democracy.

NLP in the News

Alan Miller, NLP’s president, appeared last week on Bloomberg Radio, where he discussed NLP and news literacy. Listen to the interview here.

Candace White, a producer for “Moyers & Company,” leads a workshop on interviewing with students from the school newspaper at George Jackson Academy in New York City.
Photo by Meredith W. Gonçalves

NLP News
Big numbers, new funders and national conferences

During the just-ended school year, NLP worked with 108 teachers in 84 schools and other sites to reach more than 6,100 students in our three regions. This is nearly double our highest previous total, which we recorded in the 2012-2013 school year, and brings to nearly 20,000 the number of students who have participated in our programs in our first six years.

We are pleased to announce a new grant and two renewals that will help us to continue this growth. The Gannett Foundation has awarded us a $15,000 grant to partner with the Fairfax County After School Program to deliver two after-school programs in Fairfax County, Va., middle schools in the 2014-2015 school year. In addition, the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation has renewed its $35,000 grant for the Washington, D.C.-area program, and The New York Times has renewed its annual donation of $10,000.

Two major national conferences have accepted NLP’s proposals to share news literacy lessons later this year. In November, Alan Miller, NLP’s president, will lead a panel at the National Council of Teachers of English conference in Washington. That same month, Peter Adams, NLP’s senior vice president for educational programs, will lead a workshop at the National Council for the Social Studies in Boston.

In addition, Miller will participate in a news literacy panel at the national conference of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) in Montreal in August.

Finally, we added our seventh Learn Channel lesson this month. It features Mary Owen, NLP’s Chicago program manager and a former newspaper reporter, sharing tips and tools for checking digital photos posted on social media and elsewhere online. We also have a new Teachable Moments blog item by Adams, who reflects on the potential of algorithms and social media to enhance the accuracy of the information that users consume and share.

photo of students doing du in Chicago  

NLP board member Gwen Ifill, managing editor and co-anchor of “PBS NewsHour” and moderator of “Washington Week,” joins six Washington-area high school students during a panel at the Council on Foundations' national conference this month. 
Photo courtesy of the Council on Foundations

  A panel on news literacy at the Council on Foundations' national conference featured (from left) NLP's Alan Miller and Alison Bernstein, along with Ray Suarez of Al Jazeera America and David Hiller of the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.
Photo by Jeff Martin

NLP Spotlight
NLP Students Shine at Council on Foundations' National Conference

Moderator Gwen Ifill and six high school students who completed NLP units elicited an exceptional response when they appeared before 1,100 philanthropic leaders at the Council on Foundations national conference in Washington this month.

Here are three of the many laudatory tweets from those in attendance:

The session was part of the conference’s kickoff luncheon program. Ifill, the co-anchor and managing editor of “PBS NewsHour,” moderator of “Washington Week” and a member of NLP’s board, led the students in an exploration of their consumption of news in the nation’s politically polarized society.

The students were Stewart Gray and Carlos McKnight of Thurgood Marshall Public Charter High School and Nabani Ashraf of Bell Multicultural High School in Washington; Angie Ames and Yashodhar Govil of Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, Md.; and Margaret Sella of Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School in Takoma Park, Md.

Stacy Palmer, the editor of The Chronicle of Philanthropy, introduced Ifill and the students and described NLP as “a fabulous effort to teach young people how to separate fact from fiction.”

Asked by Ifill about his hopes for his generation as consumers of news, McKnight recalled the McCarthy era and the Hollywood blacklist of the 1950s. “What I hope for for our generation is to check it out,” he said.

“You want the truth,” Govil said, adding that the best way to find it is to seek out multiple sources and “to read extensively.”

The panel concluded with Ifill asking Gray, who is bound for Stanford, what he will take with him to college.

“My primary concern is not to be ashamed of who I am and where I came from,” he said. “To be confident in my abilities to discern information and news and to be confident in myself.”

NLP President Alan Miller appeared on a news literacy panel the next day. He was joined by David Hiller, president of the Robert R. McCormick Foundation; Alison Bernstein, director of the Institute for Women’s Leadership at Rutgers University and an NLP board member; and Howard Schneider, dean of Stony Brook University’s School of Journalism and founder of the Center for News Literacy there. The panel was moderated by Ray Suarez, host of “Inside Story” on Al Jazeera America.

The Council on Foundations is the leading industry group for the country’s philanthropic organizations.

De’Andre McCottry, 20, a True Star Media street team ambassador, was one of four young adults who promoted the “Get Proof” campaign at 12 schools in Chicago this spring. Photo by Mary Owen

NLP Profile
De'Andre McCottry: Getting Proof

On a cafeteria lunch table scattered with bags of chips and juice boxes, De’Andre McCottry throws down two dubious-sounding stories from the Internet and a picture of Bill Gates holding a sign promising to donate $50,000 if the photo is shared.

“Which one is true?” asks McCottry, a True Star Media street team ambassador, during a May 20 news literacy-focused Lunchroom Takeover at the Air Force Academy High School in Chicago.

The event is part of True Star’s “Get PROOF” campaign, which encourages young people to think more critically about information before believing and sharing it. Working with the News Literacy Project, several youth ambassadors took their campaign to lunchrooms in 12 Chicago Public Schools sites over three weeks this spring.

At the Air Force Academy, students clamored over the print-outs and shouted out guesses about the items’ validity. The Gates photo was fake, as was a story about an alleged fight between two NBA players. A third piece about a 30-year-old woman improbably posing as a 13-year-old was true.

After the reveal, students keep listening as McCottry, 20, and his three colleagues discuss credibility, fact-checking and sources.

“There is so much bad information out there,” said McCottry, a 2012 Julian High School graduate who is transferring to Chicago State University in the fall to study broadcasting. “The things that people create and other people share [are] crazy.”

McCottry was one of seven True Star ambassadors who received News Literacy Project training. As a result, he said, he has changed his practices online. 

“Since we did the training, I’m more of like a vigilante,” said McCottry, who plans to attend the News Literacy Summit in Chicago this fall.

The Get PROOF campaign is supported by a “Why News Matters” grant from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

DeAnna McCleary, co-founder and executive director of True Star, a nonprofit multimedia organization for Chicago teens, said that McCottry and the other ambassadors are especially effective because they are passionate about knowing what to believe online.

Get PROOF, she said, “is a call to action."

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) 2014 The News Literacy Project. All rights reserved.

The News Literacy Project
5525 Devon Road
Bethesda, MD 20814