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Thank you Professor Rosenberg, and let me welcome students, educators, administrators, journalists, and news professionals to the first High School News Literacy Summit at Baruch College. We are extremely pleased to have you here.
What began as a modest idea some time ago has taken on a life of its own and has become a major national event. We are honored to have among our speakers a number of influential thinkers in journalism and news literacy.
I would like to thank the McCormick Foundation for sponsoring and supporting this summit and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation for its support of last night’s workshop for educators. I also want to thank Ruth Ann and Bill Harnisch and the Harnisch Foundation for the seed money they provided to help support our Department of Journalism’s collaborative projects.
Finally, I would also like to thank Professor Rosenberg and Baruch College’s Department of Journalism and the Writing Professions for organizing this event in collaboration with the Pulitzer Center, Stony Brook’s Center for News Literacy, the News Literacy Project, and a number of other collaborators.
We have many important partners, presenters, and participants here with us today, but none more important that the students from 10 New York City High Schools. You students will be participating in up to 17 different workshops today. Your task today is important and complicated, and I admire you for taking on the challenge.
The news, and how we get it, is much more complicated than it was when I was in high school. When I was your age, the news was a lot simpler. We either read it in the newspaper or heard it from one of a handful of TV networks or radio stations. Reporters, newscasters, and anchors, like Walter Cronkite, were prominent and revered. Maybe it was a more innocent and naïve time, but we assumed that they spoke the unvarnished truth.
It’s not so easy for you. Today it seems everyone has an agenda and a means of communicating. The news is marked by spin, gossip, and snark. It comes to us in blogs and tweets, status updates and text messages. We watch it on YouTube and listen to it via podcasts. And of course, since my student days we have seen the creation of the 24/7 cable news cycle with hours and hours of broadcasting time that has to be filled with something, whether factual or otherwise.
Yet we often don’t know anything about the qualifications of the author or what Stephen Colbert calls the “truthiness” of the information being conveyed. And too often, what is portrayed as fact is, in reality, opinion—and frequently ideologically-driven opinion at that. But as the late New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously pointed out, “Everyone is entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts.” So, today, you have to work harder to be news literate. You have to sort fact from fiction. You have to develop critical thinking—and that’s why you’re here today.
As educators, we have a responsibility to help this generation of students, and the general public, to become more critical news consumers. At the same time, we realize that many of young people and students today are also news publishers… of blogs, tweets, status updates, email blasts. So it’s important that we help you become more responsible contributors as well, and to improve the quality of the information you provide.
Well, it sounds like you have taken on a lot of responsibility just by logging on! In fact, you have. But with that responsibility also comes an opportunity to make a contribution to your community and your fellow students.
You have a full and busy day ahead of you. I am glad that you all have joined us today at Baruch College for this very important event. I look forward to learning about the results of your summit. Thank you.
Sandeep Junnarkar, CUNY Graduate School of Journalism
When we receive information via social media, what can we believe and when should we be skeptical? How can we use social media to inform ourselves? How can we do our own verifying? What is our role in sharing information? When we do share information, what are the benefits to us as individuals and to society and what are the pitfalls?
Jeff Jarvis, CUNY Graduate School of Journalism
What do you consider to be private and what do you think should be public? What is the value of privacy and when does it warrant protection? What is the value of publicness and when are publicness and transparency important? How do these issues affect your ability to be informed and to inform others? What judgments do you make about privacy and publicity when sharing or not sharing information online?
No one is sure of the numbers but current estimates suggest that as many as 50 million people are now blogging. Why? One reason is that blogs engage people in the sharing of knowledge, encouraging debate and the exchange of ideas. Blogs provide writers and readers with an opportunity to express their ideas and their reactions in a public dialogue. Some blogs contain high quality information and meet and even exceed professional, journalistic standards. Others are personal rants that are long on opinions and short on facts. What are some of the clues and red flags to help you decide which blogs and bloggers you can trust? Should you start your own? In this workshop, we will discuss the successful blogs, looking at such powerful ones as The Huffington Post and TMZ as well at influential niche blogs like Only The Blog Knows Brooklyn and The Root. We will also discuss the dangers and pitfalls of blogs–where content may be biased or inaccurate and sources falsely attributed. And we’ll look at what you need to know
before you launch your own blog.
In this workshop, we will discuss the successful blogs, looking at such powerful ones as The Huffington Post and TMZ as well at influential niche blogs like Only The Blog Knows Brooklyn and The Root. We will also discuss the dangers and pitfalls of blogs — where content may be biased or inaccurate and sources falsely attributed. And we’ll look at what you need to know before you launch your own blog.
Kirsten Lundberg, Knight Case Studies Initiative
The Journalism School, Columbia University
The First Amendment provides enormous press freedom in the United States. However, around the globe, many countries do not have the same level of protection for the rights of journalists or other publishers. Singapore is a case in point. There, the press does not have the same kind of freedom we enjoy in the U.S. to publish articles critical of those in power. Dow Jones, the publisher of the Wall Street Journal and many other national and international publications, learned that first hand when the news organization’s Far Eastern Economic Review published a story that was critical of former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. What happens when press values and cultures collide? What can we learn from this example in terms of the importance of the value of the First Amendment and legal protection for the right to hold public officials accountable?
Tom Rosenstiel, The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism
In the new media age, consumers are the gatekeepers over their own media consumption. How can they know what information is reliable, which media are fair, and whether something has been vetted and is accurate? Drawing on the work of his new book, “Blur: How to Know What’s True in in the Age of Information Overload,” media critic Tom Rosenstiel describes the six questions everyone should ask about any media they encounter.
Vera Haller, Baruch College
Advances in technology have made altering a photograph as easy as opening up PhotoShop on a computer. But with the ease of alteration come questions about the place of doctored photos in journalism. In this workshop, Vera Haller, a professor with experience in online journalism, will present examples and lead a discussion about photo manipulation. She will discuss the technology, red flags, verifications techniques and ethical boundaries. Students will gain an awareness of the issue and, in the process, learn how to be more critical consumers of the news and more responsible online contributors.
Katherine Fry, Ph.D., The LAMP
The same news story can seem very different when it is covered in different media. A story published in a print newspaper will be different if it’s covered on television or on the radio. When it’s covered on the Internet it will be completely different again. That’s because each of these media technologies has a different set of tools to work with to shape that story. In this workshop you’ll find out which tools are used to shape news in different media, and why that makes a difference. You’ll also have a chance to explain which media you prefer, and why.
Stony Brook University Center for News Literacy
You don’t need to brace for a long bureaucratic adoption process to start teaching News Literacy. Fellow teachers around the country have built a variety of drop-in-lesson plans you can use to make News Literacy lessons part of your English, Social Studies, History, Reading and even Science class.
Stony Brook University Center for News Literacy
What gives New York Times Editor Bill Keller the right to stand up to the President of the United States and publish facts the President wants kept secret? Did you know you have the exact same right? Come to this workshop to learn the 45 words that make you one of the most powerful people in the world.