News Literacy – Vivian Schiller CEO of NPR

August 17, 2010

This is a recap from Aspen Institute Ideas Fest. interview with Charlie Firestone and Vivian who is the CEO of NPR regarding the news literacy of the nation. We are faced with a tsunami of information.

Vivian Schiller CEO of NPR at the Aspen Institute 2010 gives insights into the importance of News Literacy. Schiller suggests that a reader today needs to look for three things when trying to understand news literacy.




It appears that young readers today have one of two opinions on news:

1) nothing is true or

2) anything people send me is true

With so much user generated content it is critical that the readers of today’s media are more informed about how to decode truth verses opinions.

“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”
Daniel Patrick Moynihan

It is not about the training Journalists as much as it is about training you as a consumer to understand the information you’re reading. Civics literacy is about how do you find the information you need to be part of a democracy. Civic Knowledge Increases a Person’s Regard for America’s Ideals and Free Institutions according to a recent Civic Literacy Report. Some believe that going to college has the largest impact on our population as it relates to civic literacy. It could not be further from the truth. When college students took a test on civic literacy. On average the student failed the exam.

At the core it is about teaching critical thinking. It is not about doing a Google search it is about going deeper and understanding where to go.

At Stoney Brook they are training all students regarding Media Literacy. They started a program for every student and it is been studied and found that critical thinking is elevated and is spreading to other school.

Training in high schools has started one of the schools that has begun such training is Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, Md. Below is a video showing how students are learning and teaching new literacy in their school by having journalists go into schools and develop a learning around the subject.

The training focuses on answering the following four questions:

Why does news matter?
Why is the first protection of free speech so vital to American democracy?
How can students know what to believe?
What challenges and opportunities do the internet and digital media create?

Are you, your kids and organization news literate? Do you scan for independence, accountability and verification when presented information? Are you scanning what you read with critical thinking skills or are you just believing what you read and hear? The world has more information to sort through than it has had in all of history with no rules for it’s creation – What amount of scrutiny do you need to come to your own opinions and gather agreed upon facts?

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