This summer for the second time, I had an opportunity to present and learn with other educators gathered for the week long “Oklahoma Multimedia Teachers” workshop at the Gaylord School of Journalism on the campus of OU in Norman. Tammy Parks, a broadcast journalism teacher in Howe, Oklahoma, has got me involved in this project. My July 29th post, “Convergence Media Examples from Mike Koehler of Smirk New Media” was a quick share about some of the GREAT resources shared by others during this professional development event. Carol Knopes, the Director of Education Projects for the Radio Television Digital News Association and coordinator of the High School Broadcast Journalism Project, is one of the primary driving forces behind the Oklahoma Multimedia Teachers workshop. Last year I heard Carol share the following as a summation of the most important things journalism students should learn both in high school and in college:

Be Fair.
Be Accurate.
Be Clear.

Those are succinct directives not only for students formally enrolled in journalism classes, but also for storychasers.

This year, Carol mentioned several other resources focusing on journalism, media literacy and critical thinking which I want to both remember and pass along. First among these is the Center for News Literacy from Stony Brook University. News literacy is about:

Critical thinking. Citizenship. The importance of the press. These are some of the tenets of The Center for News Literacy at Stony Brook University’s School of Journalism. Faculty members train the next generation of news consumers to think critically about what they read, watch, and hear.

The Center for News Literacy at Stony Brook University is committed to teaching students how to use critical thinking skills to judge the reliability and credibility of news reports and news sources. It is the only such center in the United States.

This 7.5 minute video summarizes the focus of news literacy:

Another outstanding resource Carol shared with me is Poynter’s News University. NewsU is:

… one of the world’s most innovative online journalism training programs ever created. From multimedia techniques to writing and reporting, we’ve got more than 150 free and low-cost courses. As the e-learning project of The Poynter Institute, NewsU extends Poynter’s mission as a school for journalists, future journalists and teachers of journalism.

Begun in 2005 with generous support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Poynter’s News University currently has more than 150,000 registered users, including 15 percent from outside North America.

The Poynter Institute is dedicated to teaching and inspiring journalists and media leaders. It promotes excellence and integrity in the practice of craft and in the practical leadership of successful businesses. It stands for a journalism that informs citizens and enlightens public discourse. It carries forward Nelson Poynter’s belief in the value of independent journalism.

The upcoming “Video Storytelling Workshop: 2010 Edition” online broadcast on September 24th is an example of the types of learning opportunities NewsU provides regularly. Although this workshop has an associated fee, many of the online professional development offerings of NewsU are free.

As you work with students this year, even if you are not an official “journalism teacher,” I encourage you to remember these three keys to ethical as well as high quality journalism: Fairness, Accuracy, and Clarity. Check out both the Center for News Literacy and News University as resources you as well as your students can tap to improve your writing projects and communication skills. We all need to not only be more critical CONSUMERS of the news, but increasingly more critical PUBLISHERS of the news as we interact on social media platforms. With increased power comes increased responsibility, and we need to help our students understand these roles in our classes NOW.

Reading the news
Creative Commons License photo credit: the Italian voice

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