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Columbia Journalism Review

Megan Garber

Leap of Faith, Inside the Movement to Build an Audience of Citizens

David Gonzalez, a metro reporter and columnist for The New York Times , stands in front of a history class at the Williamsburg Collegiate Charter School in Brooklyn. More precisely, he is pacing, energetically, as he responds to questions fired at him, with equal energy, by a roomful of eighth-graders.

Smiling—beaming—in the back of the classroom during the press-conference-in-reverse is Alan Miller, a former Los Angeles Times reporter—he won a 2003 Pulitzer for his series on the defective Marine Corps’ Harrier attack jet—who is also responsible for today’s class. In early 2008, Miller founded the News Literacy Project, a program that mobilizes journalists both practicing and retired to share their profession with young people—to get them excited about journalism, and to help them navigate through the sea of news and sort the good from the bad. “I spoke about journalism to my daughter’s sixth-grade class,” Miller explains, “and was really surprised by what they didn’t know about the basics of journalism.” Positive student feedback from that talk convinced Miller of the need to teach students what standard history and civics classes generally don’t: how to be savvy consumers of news.

Read the full article here (PDF here).