NLP Honors 2021 News Literacy Change-Makers

Alisyn Camerota named journalist of the year

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 7, 2021 — In recognition of their outstanding achievements in supporting news literacy during an unprecedented and challenging school year, the News Literacy Project (NLP) today named the recipients of its 2021 educator, journalist and student of the year awards.

We celebrate these honorees as news literacy change-makers who have distinguished themselves in their commitment to news literacy in their classrooms, in their professions and in their daily lives.

“After many difficult months for all of us, and especially for educators and students, these honors take on a special significance this year,” said NLP founder and CEO Alan C. Miller. “Honoring the recipients is always a privilege and a highlight for us, and we are delighted to recognize such an impressive and deserving group.”

NLP added a second student award this year — one for a middle school student and one for a high school student — in response to a dramatic increase in students using the Checkology® virtual classroom, NLP’s signature e-learning platform.

Educator of the Year

Kelly Vikstrom-Hoyt, director of library services at The Overlake School in Redmond, Washington, believes that news literacy skills and habits of mind are urgently needed and apply across disciplines.

“As the librarian, I consider it my duty to integrate news literacy across as many areas of the curriculum as I can,” she said. “In this era of misinformation, social media, and information overload, being news-literate is more important than ever. It is the key to being an engaged and informed citizen of our democracy.”

Vikstrom-Hoyt has seen how students apply the news literacy skills they learn in a variety of subjects. “I’m in a unique position to advocate for news literacy education across the entire curriculum. It is my passion, and my duty to see that our students leave our school as skillful, savvy consumers of information,” she said.

She also understands that being news-literate is vital to succeeding outside the classroom. “In order to be an engaged citizen of the country, I think you need to have these skills to get the information, and to vet the information and understand where it’s coming from,” she said.

John S. Carroll Journalist of the Year

In recognition of her dedication to standards-based journalism and her efforts to help young people become more news-literate, NLP has named CNN’s Alisyn Camerota its John S. Carroll Journalist of the Year for 2021.

“I’m really touched and flattered to receive the John S. Carroll Award, particularly this year, because it has been a trying year,” Camerota said. “It has been a really challenging year for journalism to be able to broadcast during a global pandemic.”

Camerota, a founding member of NLP’s national leadership council, is co-host of CNN Newsroom. She has volunteered her time and talent with NLP since 2017. That year, she spoke to students at the Young Women’s Leadership School in Queens, New York, and wrote about her experience for CNN.com. Since then, she has only become more involved with NLP — participating in events with educators, students and NLP supporters and helping to advance the organization’s work.

“My great hope for NLP is that it can just be more widespread, it can get into more classrooms, it can have an impact on more students,” Camerota said. She added that she has “a lot of faith in this next generation” and believes students want to be engaged and have access to credible information “but they need the tools to do it.”

Camerota joined CNN in 2014 after 16 years at Fox News, where she was co-host of America’s News Headquarters, a co-anchor of Fox & Friends Weekend and a contributor to the Fox & Friends weekday franchise. She also has hosted prime time TV news specials and worked at ABC, NBC and local news outlets earlier in her career.

Named for one of the most revered newspaper editors of his generation, the John S. Carroll Journalist of the Year Award is given annually to journalists who have contributed significantly to NLP and its mission. The honorees, who receive $500 and a glass plaque with an etched photo of Carroll, are selected by a committee of NLP board members and staff. During an acclaimed journalism career spanning four decades, Carroll was the editor of three major U.S. newspapers — the Lexington (Kentucky) Herald-Leader, The Baltimore Sun and the Los Angeles Times. He was a founding member of NLP’s board and served as its chair for four years until shortly before his death in 2015.

Gwen Ifill High School Student of the Year

Like many teens, Ana Rodriguez turns to social media to find out what is going on in the world. But she is well aware that sorting fact from fiction in her newsfeed can be difficult. That’s why, as a sophomore at Archie Williams High School in San Anselmo, California, she embraced the skills and mindset of becoming more news-literate.

“I don’t want to be sharing false information with the people around me,” said Rodriguez, 15. “As a Latina woman in society, it is fundamental for me to have the right information at all times.”

Learning about bias and misinformation helped Rodriguez complete an important project in her social studies and English classes that explored pseudoscience and, specifically, racism in science.

“I want my community as well as many others to have the opportunity to learn about the dangers of biases that connect our world, and I want everyone to understand the consequences that manipulated stories and concepts can lead to,” she said. “It is very important to have a voice in society.”

Gwen Ifill Middle School Student of the Year

Mirudulaa Suginathan Yamini, 13, was in seventh grade at Central Middle School in Quincy, Massachusetts, when she unintentionally shared a post that was not credible and soon discovered how far and fast misinformation can spread.

In eighth grade, Mirudulaa and her classmates were introduced to Checkology, which helped her learn how to discern credible information from rumor, conspiracy theories and manipulated content. Now, she never shares information that she has not verified as reliable. If someone sends her content that she recognizes as misinformation, Mirudulaa lets them know and advises them to try the e-learning platform.

“After using Checkology I feel a lot more informed and confident,” she said. “Checkology helps you improve, realize and change your ways.” She tries to share Checkology with classmates because “everyone else needs to know” how to tell the difference between “which is fake and which is not fake.”

The Gwen Ifill Student of the Year Awards honor the trailblazing journalist — and longtime NLP supporter and board member — who died in 2016. The awards are presented to female students of color who learn and apply news literacy skills and who represent the values 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 she was a member (with Judy Woodruff) of the first female co-anchor team of a national news broadcast, PBS NewsHour.

To learn about this year’s student finalists and past winners, please visit our dedicated landing page, Celebrating News Literacy Change-Makers.

Media contact

Gina Physic
Senior Manager of Media Relations
gphysic@newslit.org
202-505-4659

About the News Literacy Project

The News Literacy Project, a nonpartisan national education nonprofit, provides programs and resources for educators and the public to teach, learn and share the abilities needed to be smart, active consumers of news and information and equal and engaged participants in a democracy.