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June 2013


President's Message

Dear NLP Friends and Supporters,

It is my pleasure to send you NLP's second newsletter. It arrives as we are closing out our fifth year in the classroom — by far our most successful one.

In this issue, we share a sense of the school year just past, including some of the ambitious research that students undertook for their NLP projects; feature our second NLP profile; and look ahead to our next steps.

I want to highlight a special video of David Gonzalez of The New York Times talking to students about photography and the students’ own compelling photos.

We’re also announcing our major annual event — in November, at George Washington University ­— and hope that many of you will be able to join us.

As always, we welcome your feedback. With your continued support and involvement, we look forward to increasing our reach and impact in the months ahead.

Alan C. Miller



Click the image to view a video of David Gonzalez of The New York Times speaking to middle school students at De La Salle Academy in New York City.

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, Nov. 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; please let us know if you want to reserve seats (up to three per individual).

NLP Headlines

The May 13 broadcast of “The Kojo Nnamdi Show” on WAMU, Washington’s public radio station, examined news literacy and NLP. Kojo’s guests were NLP President Alan Miller, an NLP journalist fellow and an NLP teacher.

NLP was also featured in the May/June issue of Columbia Journalism Review. Alan is quoted in both the issue’s cover story, “Streams of consciousness,” which examines how young people get their news in the digital age and what this will mean for the future of journalism, and a sidebar, “That's incredible."

In addition, the “On the Job” column in the spring issue of Inside Story, the magazine of the City University of New York's graduate school of journalism, profiles Elis Estrada, NLP's New York program assistant and a member of the class of 2011.

Chicago Public Radio reporter Natalie Moore (right) speaks to Whitney Delaney and other journalism students at Perspectives IIT/Math & Science Academy in Chicago. (Photo by Kyle LaMere)

NLP News
Concluding a Stellar School Year, Embarking on a Fruitful Summer

We are concluding our fifth year in the classroom with dramatic results behind us and a productive summer ahead.

During the 2012-13 school year, we worked with 77 teachers in 54 schools in New York City, Chicago and the Washington, D.C., area to reach more than 3,600 students in our classroom, after-school and all-digital programs. We have connected with more than 10,000 students in all of our programs since launching in February 2009.

We have plans to move forward on multiple fronts this summer, including:

  • Producing two-week news literacy workshops in San Jose, Calif., and San Antonio, Texas, in partnership with the American Library Association. High school students will collaborate in the “News Know-how” workshops to create multimedia news literacy projects that they will share with their communities;
  • Conducting two half-day workshops at The Washington Post in partnership with the paper’s Young Journalists Development Program for the third straight year;
  • Kicking off our redesigned website with our Learn Channel featuring new materials for teachers and students. The site will also provide opportunities for our teachers, journalists and others to contribute on an ongoing basis;
  • Creating our Washington-area digital unit, with plans to launch it in schools in the 2013-14 school year.

We look forward to sharing the fruits of these efforts in the months ahead.

photo of students doing du in Chicago
Lizbeth Morales, a 6th-grader at MS 57/James Weldon Johnson Leadership Academy in East Harlem, snaps a photo of the garbage in the school cafeteria. (Photo by Meredith W. Goncalves)

NLP Spotlight
News Literacy Student Projects: Building and Reflecting New Skills

Students researched such close-to-home issues as school crime and school lunches in Chicago and New York City as part of their News Literacy Project units this spring.
Their efforts included filing requests under public records acts to obtain such revealing documents as school spending figures and cafeteria inspection reports.

Unlocking such information “is kind of like a secret vault that I could go into," said Jalilah Sultan, a senior at Chicago’s Kenwood Academy, who requested reports about pest control at her school. "I definitely have more of an appreciation for the work that goes into getting information for a story."

The students undertook their research as part of their concluding NLP projects. Every student in a classroom or after-school unit completes a project that builds on and reflects NLP’s core concepts, including empowering youth to think critically about issues that matter to them and seeking out credible information.

At Kenwood Academy, journalism students filed 17 requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), seeking information from Chicago Public Schools about such topics as crime in the school, art department funding and cafeteria spending. The FOIA officer has denied some requests, requested extensions on some of them and redirected others.

The Kenwood students learned how to file the requests from journalists with the Better Government Association, a Chicago-based government watchdog group. NLP journalist fellows have given similar lessons at Perspectives Charter Academy/Joslin campus and Benito Juarez Community Academy.

In New York, 6th-grade students at MS 57/James Weldon Johnson Leadership Academy spent the semester researching school lunches and investigating their school’s cafeteria.

Working with more than two dozen journalists from Bloomberg News, the East Harlem middle-school students learned that New York City's Department of Education recently implemented changes to cafeteria menus outlined in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Aimed at addressing the country's obesity epidemic, the revisions in the law mark the first time in 15 years that the USDA has changed nutrition standards for school lunches.

Students got to the bottom of the new nutrition standards, learned that the cafeteria must follow rules described in the city's health code and secured a copy of the latest health inspection report of the cafeteria, which showed no violations. They also interviewed the school principal, the school nurse, school lunch aides, award-winning cookbook author Rozanne Gold and fellow students.

Students created a multimedia website, “Food for Thought,” showcasing their research. This program was funded by Bloomberg LP.

In previous years, NLP students have done ambitious research projects on:

To see more photos and documents from this spring’s projects, click here.

Student Stewart Gray met Gwen Ifill of PBS at the Herb Block Foundation’s annual award ceremony and lecture at the Library of Congress in April. (Photo by Sharon Thomas)

NLP Profile
Stewart Gray: A Need for Objectivity, a Passion for Writing

These days, when high school student Stewart Gray reads or watches the news, he’s on the lookout for bias.

He says he can detect it far better after examining news coverage of a polarizing issue during his experience with the News Literacy Project this spring as a junior at Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter High School in Washington.

For his assignment to study a hot-button issue, he did not have to look far: Feverish debates over the federal budget sequestration filled news pages and broadcasts, and Gray plunged in to sort verified facts from partisan finger-pointing.

He now realizes, he said, that whatever the issue, “it’s important for journalists to remain objective at all times.”

Kyle Morean, Marshall’s technology and media literacy teacher, said Gray readily shared his news literacy lessons with his classmates.

“I witnessed Stewart's further growth as he became our class’ barometer for bias in news,” Morean said. “He would constantly remind his classmates to determine the intended audience and the origin of any mediated message.”

Gray’s experience with NLP extended well beyond the classroom. He attended the Herb Block Foundation’s annual award ceremony and lecture on April 25 at the Library of Congress. There he had a chance to meet the featured speaker, Gwen Ifill, the moderator of PBS’s “Washington Week” and a member of NLP’s board. The Herb Block Foundation funded NLP's program at Thurgood Marshall.

Gray also went behind the scenes at the Newseum one Sunday morning to observe the taping of the ABC News program “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.”

Gray’s enthusiasm for the news prompted him to revive the school’s dormant media club, which published its first newspaper edition at the end of the semester. He hopes to continue as its top editor next year.

“Writing,” he says, “is one of my passions.”

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