CHICAGO — The American Library Association (ALA) has released a digital supplement focusing on the two-year News Know-how news literacy project.
The project, which was conducted in 2012 and 2013 by the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) using grant funds provided by the Open Society Foundations, involved librarians, journalists, news ethicists and students nationwide. Using libraries as “newsrooms,” high school students were taught how to engage in a nonpartisan, critical analysis of news and information.
Readers of the digital supplement will learn how students learned how to distinguish between fact and fiction with the help of journalist trainers.
The students examined coverage of contemporary issues, including the 2012 presidential election. Grounded in the principles of journalism and equipped with the analytical tools developed during the program, they were able to pick apart the facts and see through biases.
“In today’s mass media environment, it is critical that students are taught to analyze news coverage. Through the support of libraries under this initiative, students were given the tools to assess the accuracy and credibility of news and information access across various media and platforms,” said Barbara Jones, OIF executive director.
Students like Marie Jeppesen from Sibley, Iowa, reported a positive experience.
She said, “I have to say that it was the first summer in a long time where I actually learned something useful.”
The librarians also expressed appreciation.
Jennifer Velasquez, teen services coordinator for the San Antonio (Texas) Public Library, said, “I think it is important for libraries and librarians to understand that the institution and we as professionals play an important role in helping teenagers beyond just finding library materials.”
At the conclusion of the project, a team led by Martin Wolske of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign evaluated the project.
Wolske said, “We have seen valuable interactions between librarians and journalists, who ultimately share many of the same procedures of sharing reliable information and related goals of information and news literacy.”
The digital supplement not only focuses on the past two years, but also invites participation in future news literacy projects – the goal is to move forward with a 24/7 news cycle watchdog program.