News Literacy Project honors educator, student, journalist

2024 Change-Makers recognized for commitment to facts in an election year

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 3, 2024 — The News Literacy Project today announced the winners of the 2024 Change-Maker awards, recognizing an educator, a student and a journalist for their dedication to news literacy and credible information.

This year’s winners are Lindsay Downs, a librarian at Sewickley Academy in suburban Pittsburgh; Neveah Rice, a senior at Cornell High School in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania, and Tamoa Calzadilla, editor in chief of Factchequeado, an initiative to combat Spanish-language misinformation.

“News literacy and the ability to spot misinformation are essential to our democracy — especially in an election year. Our Change-Makers are helping keep credible information at the center of our civic life by being champions for facts,” said News Literacy Project President and CEO Charles Salter.

The winners will be celebrated at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., on Monday, June 3. To learn more about the winners and watch their video interviews, read about them below or visit Celebrating News Literacy Change-Makers.

Lindsay Downs: 2024 Alan C. Miller Educator of the Year

Lindsay Downs, a librarian at Sewickley Academy in Sewickley, Pennsylvania, knows that the ability to identify credible information benefits students inside and outside the classroom. With some of them eligible to vote for the first time this year, the stakes are high. “I think that my responsibility as an educator to prepare voters is to really help them critically think about information. It’s not so much what to think, but how to think.”

She’d like to see news and media literacy education become a national priority. “I’m concerned that if we don’t implement media literacy education on a large scale, we’re going to continue to see this crumble in civil discourse and how we interact together as a society.”

The Alan C. Miller Educator of the Year Award is named after NLP’s founder and former CEO. Miller was a reporter with the Los Angeles Times for 21 years before establishing NLP in 2008. Miller has won more than 20 national honors, including a Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting.

In this video, Downs explains how news literacy empowers her students.

Neveah Rice: 2024 Gwen Ifill Student of the Year

Neveah Rice, a senior at Cornell High School in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania, said that learning news literacy skills made her aware that we all play a role in pushing back against misinformation. “I do think that there is a responsibility that everybody should have when considering what they’re posting on social media, because misinformation is a serious problem in our society. And I think you should try your best to fact-check what you’re posting.”

Rice readily grasps what this knowledge means for democracy and the importance of being civically engaged. “I will be voting in this election. It’s going to be my first time voting. I’m kind of nervous for it. I think my vote does matter.”

The Gwen Ifill Student of the Year Award is named after the trailblazing journalist — and longtime NLP supporter and board member — who died in 2016. The award in her honor is presented to female students of color who represent the values that Ifill brought to journalism. Ifill was the first Black woman to host a national political talk show on television as moderator of Washington Week and was a member (with Judy Woodruff) of the first female co-anchor team of a network news broadcast on PBS NewsHour.

In this video, Rice talks about the responsibility we all have to stop misinformation from spreading online.

Tamoa Calzadilla: John S. Carroll Journalist of the Year Award 

Tamoa Calzadilla — editor in chief of Factchequeado, an initiative created to counter misinformation within Spanish-speaking communities in the United States — has practiced journalism in conditions where press freedoms were protected as well as under a dictatorship.

Her coverage of government corruption and repression forced her to flee Venezuela. She settled with her family in Doral, Florida, and worked as an investigative journalist with the Spanish-language TV news outlet Univision. She covered major stories, including the Panama Papers, and led elDetector, the first Spanish-language fact-checking platform in the U.S.

At Factchequeado, Calzadilla leads a team that fact-checks digital content, educates their audience on journalism standards and election practices and “prebunks” trending misinformation topics and tactics before people encounter them.

The work she does to combat misinformation with partner organizations, and especially NLP, is deeply important to her. “I love the idea of collaborating to do something powerful.”

Calzadilla has been a dedicated partner with NLP since 2022. She assisted in two election campaigns by recording Spanish-language content, providing translations of NLP resources and actively promoting National News Literacy Week. Earlier this year she participated in NLP’s first-ever Spanish-language event on election misinformation.

The John S. Carroll Journalist of the Year Award is named after the journalist whose four-decade career included editorships at three major U.S. newspapers — the Lexington (Kentucky) Herald-Leader, The Baltimore Sun and the Los Angeles Times. Carroll was a founding member of NLP’s board and served as its chair for four years until shortly before his death in 2015.

In this video, Calzadilla talks about her journalism career and the need for Spanish-language fact-checking efforts.

About the News Literacy Project

The News Literacy Project, a nonpartisan education nonprofit, is building a national movement to advance the practice of news literacy throughout American society, creating better informed, more engaged and more empowered individuals — and ultimately a stronger democracy.