The Carnival of Journalism is back! For those long-time readers, you might recall Journerdism was one of the founders of the group many moons ago when social media was just a tiny zygote in Ray Josen’s fertile womb.
The changing role of Universities for the information needs of a community: One of the Knight Commission‘s recommendations is to “Increase the role of higher education…..as hubs of journalistic activity.” Another is to “integrate digital and media literacy as critical elements for education at all levels through collaboration among federal, state, and local education officials.”
Okay – great recommendations. But how do we actually make it happen? What does this look like? What University programs are doing it right? What can be improved and what would be your ideal scenario? Or is this recommendation wrong to begin with? No box here to write inside of.
I’ll focus on the latter part of the question, on how to “integrate digital and media literacy as critical elements for education at all levels through collaboration among federal, state, and local education officials.”
Here is my overly simplistic formula:
Schools (note, I think media literacy should start much earlier than at the university level) engaged in offering real, critical thinkers in a liberal arts education environment, committed to making it part of their curriculum
Media publications sharing their experts, knowledge as well as promotional and editorial board resources to educate the public at events, forums and conversations in their media
Professional journalism organizations spreading the message and importance to members, also giving support and resources to publicly educate the community
But enough of the hypothetical blogger-who-knows-how-everyone-else-should-be-doing-everything-their-way theory.
The university that is crushing it in this arena is Stonybrook University and their Center for News Literacy (largely lead by Journalism School Dean Howard Schneider and Director Dean Miller). They (as far as I know) were pioneers in the field of media literacy that’s actually directly leaving the charge in their community. They even have dozens of lesson plans, Power Points, videos and handouts ready for teachers to start spreading the word. And many schools are starting to take advantage of these valuable resources.
Both of these programs are shining examples. And they shouldn’t be the only two. All journalism and communication schools should follow to help the cause in communities around the world.
I also believe there’s opportunities for news, educational or even library organizations can partner together with the public on information projects that help raise news literacy and critical thinking skills. I’d argue that Wikipedia is an example of this. The Guardian’s project crowd-sourcing parliament member’s expenses was another example of this. The Washington Post’s Who Runs Gov project is another example.
Anything that engages citizens and gets them interested or excited about information helps drive media literacy. Media/educational/library/information organizations just need to provide a platform for participation and then invite the public in.