Social Media

December 2013

President's Message

Dear NLP Friends and Supporters,

We are delighted to end the year with lots of holiday cheer.

In this newsletter, you’ll get an update on our rapidly expanding digital unit and the latest generous support from foundations and corporations. We’ll also share an overview of the marquee public events that NLP has produced.

Our video features highlights from our recent stimulating panel discussion at George Washington University with Gwen Ifill, Thomas L. Friedman and Andrea Mitchell. Please take a few minutes to view it.

The subject of this month’s profile is Lucy Chen, who as a high school freshman was one of the first students to take the NLP unit at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, Md. The course had a significant effect on Lucy throughout high school — and still does today as she attends the University of Pennsylvania.

Even as we look back on 2013 as NLP’s most dynamic year yet, we look ahead to 2014, which holds the promise of reaching exponentially more teachers and students.

All of us at NLP thank you for your invaluable interest, participation and support. We wish you a very happy holiday season and a healthy and news-literate New Year!

Warmest regards,

Alan and the NLP Team

Alan C. Miller








Click the image to see video highlights from NLP’s panel discussion on “America’s Changing Role in the World and How the Press Covers It” at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium on Nov. 13, 2013.

NLP Calendar

The second post for our Teachable Moments blog was posted this week. In it, Byron Calame, a former deputy managing editor of The Wall Street Journal and a former public editor of The New York Times, uses the Associated Press's handling of a serious error in early October to explore the kind of accountability that consumers should expect from quality journalism.

Also this week, we will post our latest lesson on the NLP Learn Channel: “Seven Things Every Consumer Should Know About Sourcing,” by the Chicago Sun-Times’ metropolitan editor, Paul Saltzman. We'll let you know on Facebook and Twitter when this is online.


Nilkanth Patel, an editorial production associate at The New Yorker, leads a workshop in InDesign for student journalists at KIPP NYC College Prep. Photo by Meredith W. Goncalves

NLP News

Dramatic Growth in Numbers and Major New Support

NLP has made dramatic progress this fall in some of the nation’s largest school districts with our one-week digital unit. As a result, we are reaching significantly larger numbers of both schools and students than at any other time in our history.

We have already served a total of 3,721 students in our three regions in the first four months of the 2013-14 school year. This is more than we reached in the entire 2012-13 school year, which was our highest total to that point. We expect our numbers to be far bigger in the second semester of the current school year.

The digital units, which retain the voice of our journalists from each region through narrated videos and a live webinar, have been delivered to 29 schools and 2,739 students this fall. Our more resource-intensive classroom program, which is generally done over two to three weeks, has reached an additional 17 schools and 982 students.

The New York City schools (the country’s largest school district), Chicago Public Schools (#3) and Fairfax County (Va.) public schools (#11), are currently promoting the digital unit. Curriculum supervisors for Montgomery County (Md.) schools (#15) said the unit “looks terrific” and will make it available districtwide in 2014. 

We also achieved a milestone on Dec. 12 when our webinar with Tom Hamburger, a national reporter at The Washington Post, connected 13 schools and hundreds of students in all three of our regions. This is the first time an NLP webinar engaged all three regions simultaneously, with students in New York City, Chicago and the D.C. area responding to instant poll questions and asking questions of the presenter.

This impressive growth will be buttressed by new funding in the near future:

  • The Charles H. Revson Foundation is renewing NLP’s three-year $600,000 grant for 2014 through 2016 to implement our three-year operational plan and move to scale in New York City and nationally (the foundation required that the grant not exceed certain percentages of NLP’s budget in 2015 and 2016);
  • The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is giving NLP a $175,000 grant for 2014 to implement our operational plan and move to scale in Chicago and nationally;
  • Bloomberg LP donated $62,000 to NLP to partner with its New York and Washington bureaus on after-school programs and with its Chicago bureau on a classroom program this spring.

In addition, NLP has nearly met the Sun-Times Foundation’s $25,000 challenge grant that was mentioned in our last newsletter. Thanks to those of you whose thoughtful gifts have helped get us this far.

New donors can contribute to NLP online at Contributions up to $1,000 will be fully matched until Jan. 15, 2014, or until the challenge is met, whichever comes first.

photo of students doing du in Chicago

Thomas L. Friedman of The New York Times, Andrea Mitchell of NBC News and Gwen Ifill of PBS discuss foreign policy at George Washington University's Lisner Auditorium on Nov. 13, 2013. You can see additional photos of the event here. Photo by Rick Reinhard

NLP Spotlight
Public Events Further NLP's Mission and Raise Our Profile

Since its founding, NLP has extended its programming beyond the classroom on a variety of fronts. This includes producing public events that further our mission, raise our profile and cultivate support.

On Nov. 13, NLP partnered with George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs for a panel discussion on “America’s Changing Role in the World and How the Press Covers It” at GW’s Lisner Auditorium.

Gwen Ifill of PBS, Thomas L. Friedman of The New York Times and Andrea Mitchell of NBC News attracted an audience of more than 1,100 for an engaging and incisive discussion. You can see the video here.

This was the seventh public event produced by NLP in the Washington area in the past four years. All of the participants generously donated their time to NLP.

Last year’s event, focusing on presidential debates, was held at Georgetown University’s Lohrfink Auditorium on Oct. 19, 2012 — three days after the second presidential debate and three days before the third.

About 400 students and other guests filled the auditorium to hear Chuck Todd of NBC News, Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker and Al Hunt of Bloomberg News discuss “Presidential Debates: Performance, Spin and the Press.” Robert Siegel of NPR moderated the discussion.

Qualcomm and The Washington Post were major sponsors of both events, and Bloomberg was a major sponsor of the 2012 panel. That sponsorship allowed NLP to offer these programs at no cost to the public.

NLP also produced five public events at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, Md., from 2010 to 2012. These Fall Forum panels drew audiences ranging from 400 to more than 900.

A list and photos of NLP’s public events in the Washington area can be seen here.

Lucy Chen, a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania and a graduate of one of the first NLP high school units, remains an avid news consumer. Photo by Taryn Alston

NLP Profile
Lucy Chen: NLP's
Long-Term Impact

In the spring of 2009, when her AP government teacher at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, Md. promised that an upcoming unit on news literacy would be captivating, freshman Lucy Chen was skeptical.

But, to her surprise, she found the unit fascinating.

“We learned a lot about topics such as the importance of accurate news reporting, the implications of the First Amendment’s protection of free speech for journalists and ordinary citizens, guidelines for finding trustworthy information, and the challenges of living in a digital world,” Lucy said. “It was almost easy to pay attention because the lessons directly related to my life, my decisions, and my observations of the world around me.”

Hearing prominent journalists discuss how they reported the news changed her perspective. She began to think more critically about information she read and heard. She began to ask questions about the reliability of sources. She said she found the lessons “useful in my English class, my interactions with people, and my daily newsgathering.”

Lucy’s final project for her NLP unit was an online quiz that NLP included in a video of top student projects, “Students as Teachers.” She joined Whitman’s student newspaper, The Black & White, rising to become online editor. She also was an NLP volunteer, serving as ticket manager for four major public events in 2010 and 2011.

She’s still applying those news literacy lessons at the University of Pennsylvania, where she is working on two bachelor’s degrees — one in biology from the College of Arts & Sciences and one in economics from the Wharton School.

As an example, she said she was skeptical about an item on the Associated Press Twitter feed in April claiming that President Barack Obama had been injured in explosions at the White House. She recalled noting at the time that the tweet writer’s style was not consistent with other tweets in the AP feed. Yet the tweet — written by a hacker — caused the Dow Jones Industrial Average to plunge.

Said Lucy: “The lessons that the first NLP unit in class taught me five years ago continue to inform how I look for credible information on the Internet and how to tell fact from fiction in all sources.”

THE NEWS LITERACY PROJECT (NLP) is an innovative national educational program that works with teachers and seasoned journalists 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
5525 Devon Road
Bethesda, MD 20814


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