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August 2013

President's Message

Dear NLP Friends and Supporters,

The News Literacy Project is wrapping up a highly productive summer and is looking forward to launching our sixth year in the classroom this week.

This issue includes a report on our successful summer workshops for high school students with the American Library Association in San Jose, Calif., and San Antonio, Texas, and with The Washington Post's Young Journalists Development Program in the nation’s capital.

Our featured video highlights the creative news literacy projects produced by the student participants in San Jose and San Antonio.

Our profile focuses on Manya Brachear Pashman, a religion writer with the Chicago Tribune. Manya has been the most active of our more than 225 volunteer journalist fellows in the past four years.  She has also been extremely engaging and effective with students.

As always, we appreciate your interest and welcome your feedback.

All the best,


Alan C. Miller








Click the image above to check out highlights of multimedia presentations created by students in summer workshops run by NLP with the American Library Association in San Jose, Calif., and San Antonio, Texas.

NLP Calendar

NLP’s major fall event in Washington will be a panel discussion on “America’s Changing Role in the World and How the Press Covers It” on Wednesday, November 13, from 7:30 to 9 p.m. at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium, 730 21st St. NW. Gwen Ifill of PBS is the moderator; the panelists are Thomas L. Friedman, foreign affairs columnist at The New York Times; Martha Raddatz, chief global affairs correspondent at ABC News; and Michael Gerson, a nationally syndicated columnist with The Washington Post. Qualcomm and The Washington Post are co-sponsors. The event is free, but seating is limited. You can reserve seats (up to three per individual) by sending an email to


NY1 News anchor Cheryl Wills whispers a brief news story to a student at George Jackson Academy in New York City during an NLP activity. The exercise helps students learn the importance of context and facts.
Photo by Meredith W. Goncalves.

NLP News
Embarking on Our Sixth Year in the Classroom with Growing Momentum

We are poised to embark on our sixth year in schools with our classroom, after-school and digital programs in New York City, Chicago and the Washington, D.C., region.

On Oct. 1, we also plan to unveil our revamped website with a Learn Channel that will feature new video lessons and a “teachable moments” blog about news literacy. Among those who will initially present lessons are NPR’s Ari Shapiro and Nicco Mele, an adjunct lecturer at Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center and the chair of NLP’s technology committee.

On other fronts:

  • Our evaluation consultant has completed a detailed report on our assessment data for the past school year. The results from students, teachers and journalists are extremely positive.
  • The Philip L. Graham Fund has awarded NLP a $20,000 grant to produce and pilot a version of our digital unit in the Washington, D.C. area. Among those who will be featured are Tracie Potts of NBC News, Chip Reid of CBS News, Peter Eisler of USA Today and Matea Gold of The Washington Post.
  • The New York-based Futuro Media Group, led by award-winning broadcast journalist Maria Hinojosa, has become our 24th participating news organization.
  • We are working closely with the YOUmedia Center in the Chicago Public Library. We have brought accomplished journalists in to speak to teens and to lead them on a field trip to find story ideas around Chicago. We have also developed an ongoing “Lie Detector” challenge in which teens are asked to determine if a piece of information is true, false or partially true and to explain how they know this.

Please let us know if you would like us to send you further information about any of these programs or developments.

Washington Post reporters DeNeen Brown and Tom Hamburger speak to high school students at an NLP-Washington Post Young Journalists Development Program summer workshop.
Photos by Billy Bird.

NLP Spotlight
Students Learn News Literacy and Digital Skills in Summer Workshops

The News Literacy Project staff conducted a series of innovative workshops this summer for high school students in San Jose, Calif., San Antonio, Texas, and Washington, D.C.

In the second year of a partnership with the American Library Association, NLP oversaw two-week “News Know-how” sessions for teens at San Jose’s Educational Park Library and at the San Antonio Central Library.

Participants received instruction in news literacy and the use of the library’s information resources. Local journalists also lent their expertise to the workshops.

The teens then worked in small groups on projects designed to reflect their knowledge and to teach news literacy concepts to others. They learned digital skills and incorporated video, audio and written content into their projects, which they presented publicly at the conclusion of the workshop.

The projects included a “Fact or Fail” quiz that put “too good to be true” advertisements through a process to check them out, an examination of the dangers journalists face in other countries, and a board game that tests players’ knowledge of news literacy.

Examples of the teens’ projects can be seen here.

In a preliminary report, evaluators from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne said that after completing the workshops, students were more likely to agree that  “quality journalism provides the benchmark against which all other sources of news should be measured” and that “the First Amendment is vital to American democracy.''

The teens also reported that they were more comfortable using a computer, searching the Internet, editing videos and/or photos, vetting news sources for quality of news and distinguishing fact from opinion.

“Even my smartest friends pass around information and I don’t know why they would think it is good information,” said workshop participant Elise Chen, 17, a senior at Independence High School in San Jose. “Even the smartest people are susceptible to getting misinformation or information that is not in the right context.”

For the third consecutive summer, NLP also did a series of workshops in partnership with The Washington Post’s Young Journalists Development Program.

Students representing nearly three dozen high schools from Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia attended one of two Saturday sessions at the Post, where they learned news literacy basics and engaged with Post reporters Matea Gold, Chris Richards, Tom Hamburger and DeNeen Brown.

In a post-workshop assessment, 30 students rated the sessions as "extremely valuable" and the other 20 said they were “somewhat valuable." Among the most important things they said they learned was the need to verify information and check sources, the students said.

Chicago Tribune reporter Manya Brachear Pashman talks to a student at the Marquette School in Chicago.
Photo by Lawrence Bickerstaff.

NLP Profile
Manya Brachear Pashman: Sharing Her Love Affair with the First Amendment with Students

Manya Brachear Pashman declares at the start of all her NLP lessons that she is having "a mad, passionate love affair with the First Amendment." Without the five freedoms guaranteed by the amendment, the Chicago Tribune religion writer explains, her job would be impossible.

For her students, she said, “my lesson not only hits some high notes in the NLP curriculum, but also helps them connect the dots in other subjects.”

Over the last four years, Brachear Pashman has been the most active journalist among the News Literacy Project’s more than 225 dedicated volunteers. She has spoken to students at a dozen schools in Chicago, often staying for multiple class periods. She has also done an e-learning lesson for NLP's digital unit and participated in an NLP panel discussion at a Chicago high school.

"The generous amount of time that Manya has given the project has played a crucial role in our success," said Peter Adams, NLP's national education director and Chicago program manager. "Her passion for news literacy and the tremendous quality of her work have benefited over a thousand of our teens here in Chicago and elsewhere."

Brachear Pashman, who has been at the Tribune for 10 years, said that focusing on religion helps draw students in. “It scratches this curious itch that they have to talk about a topic that, frankly, a lot of people are afraid of,” she said.

She uses her work to explain not just how journalism works, but also how the First Amendment intersects daily with journalism and the lives of people she covers. She said she considers her lesson a success if the students become interested in current events and begin to see the connections to American history.

Last year, embodying the axiom that a journalist is always on the hunt for a good story, Brachear Pashman turned a chance encounter during one of her NLP visits into a Page One story for the Tribune. Her report focused on a charismatic student who had already started preaching in his church.

“He saw that I had to fact-check and I needed to see him in action,” she said. “It was a good opportunity to teach him what went into a story."

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.

The News Literacy Project
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Bethesda, MD 20814