News Goggles: Candace Buckner, The Washington Post

Sports are an important part of many people’s lives. For journalists covering the world of sports, reporting involves more than just publishing highlights, player statistics and scores. So, what’s it like being a sports reporter?

This week, we talk to Candace Buckner of The Washington Post about her role as a sports columnist. Buckner sheds light on the differences between straight news beat reporting and opinion writing — and underscores how certain journalism practices and standards remain the same. Using her recent piece on Kyrie Irving as an example, Buckner explains her approach to column writing. We also discuss how sports intersect with culture and society and what sports reporting can teach us about the wider world. Grab your news goggles!

Note: Look for this newsletter feature the first Monday of the month. You can explore previous News Goggles videos, annotations and activities in NLP’s Resource Library under “Classroom Activities.”

Resources: “Practicing Quality Journalism” and “InfoZones” (NLP’s Checkology® virtual classroom).

Idea: Have students hone their ability to separate news from opinion using NLP’s mobile app, Informable, which includes dozens of real-world examples in its “News or opinion?” mode.

Dig Deeper: Use this viewing guide for the featured News Goggles video to help students consider what it’s like being a sports reporter.

News Goggles annotations and activities provide news literacy takeaways on timely topics. These resources feature examples of actual news coverage, including full news reports, headlines, breaking news alerts or excerpts.

This video originally appeared in the Dec. 5, 2022, issue of The Sift® newsletter for educators, which explores timely examples of misinformation, addresses journalism and press freedom topics and examines social media trends and issues. Read archives of the newsletter and subscribe here. Stock music in this video was provided by SoundKit from Pond5.

Have feedback about this resource? Or an idea for a future News Goggles? Please share it with us at thesift@newslit.org.

News Goggles: Emilie Munson, Times Union

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by news coverage during an election season. With so many sources competing for attention, how can we know what to trust? Professional journalism standards are one important sign of credibility. Reputable news organizations aspire to ethical guidelines and standards, including fairness, accuracy and independence.

This week, we talk to data reporter Emilie Munson of the Times Union, a local news organization based in Albany, New York, with a coverage area that includes the state’s Capital Region and Hudson Valley. Munson sheds light on the Times Union’s decision to publish a guide explaining how the news organization covers elections and politics — and the role of journalism standards in its news decisions. We also discuss the Times Union’s strict policies on the use of anonymous or unnamed sources. Grab your news goggles!

Note: Look for this newsletter feature the first Monday of the month. You can explore previous News Goggles videos, annotations and activities in NLP’s Resource Library under “Classroom Activities.”

Resources: 

Dig deeper: Use this viewing guide for the featured News Goggles video as students consider the role of journalism standards in covering elections and politics.

News Goggles annotations and activities provide news literacy takeaways on timely topics. These resources feature examples of actual news coverage, including full news reports, headlines, breaking news alerts or excerpts.

This video originally appeared in the Nov. 7, 2022, issue of The Sift® newsletter for educators, which explores timely examples of misinformation, addresses journalism and press freedom topics and examines social media trends and issues. Read archives of the newsletter and subscribe here. Stock music in this video was provided by SoundKit from Pond5.

Have feedback about this resource? Or an idea for a future News Goggles? Please share it with us at thesift@newslit.org.

PitchIt! Student essay contests happening in Colorado, Florida, New York and Pennsylvania 

Pitchit essay content: New York, Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Florida.

About

Student voices are catalysts for positive change in schools and communities. You can empower them to be well-informed and civically engaged when you participate in the News Literacy Project’s PitchIt! contest.  

This is an authentic way to get middle and high school students to learn about and express their thoughts about current events from a news literacy perspective. In addition to exploring an issue important to them, they can help combat misinformation or work to protect freedom of the press.   

Created by NLP news literacy ambassador Monica Valdes in 2020 for Miami-area teachers, the contest has expanded to all of Florida, Colorado, New York and Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. 

To have your students participate in PitchIt! and get the most out of it, use NLP’s free resources and curriculum guides. You choose the top essays from your class to submit for judging and prizes. 
 

The submission deadline is April 17, 2023! 

For contest rules and details, follow the links below: 

Not in one of these regions? NLP encourages you to contact your local news literacy ambassador or our staff (network@newslit.org) and adapt our contest rules to create a contest for your learning community.

 Curious to what participating teachers had to say? 

“PitchIt! utilizes news literacy curriculum to broaden the understanding of how media influences all of us every day. Students then analyze and learn for themselves the power of using information with and without bias. I highly recommend facilitating part or all of the curriculum in classrooms across the board in Social Studies, English, Science, and more. It shows students that language, facts, and biases impact us comprehensively.” 

— Renee A. Cantave, iWrite magnet educator, Arthur and Polly Mays Conservatory of the Arts, Miami, Florida 

“PitchIt! was a great experience for my students. Not only did it raise awareness among them regarding the importance of good writing and of an important current issue in our community, the culminating event gave contest winners a chance to verbally express their positions, while receiving important feedback.”

— Rolando Alvarez, Coral Way K-8 Center, Miami, Florida  

 Tired of feeling like you’re working in a vacuum? Sign up for NewsLitNation and our private NewsLitNation Facebook Group to connect and share with other educators across the country passionate about news and media literacy. As a member of NewsLitNation® you’ll receive special perks and the NewsLitNation Insider, our monthly newsletter that keeps you up to date about all things news literacy! 

News Goggles: María Luisa Paúl, The Washington Post

News Goggles is back with fresh insights for the new school year. This regular newsletter feature offers a behind-the-scenes look at journalism and shines a light on key news literacy concepts. How do journalists see news? Put on a pair of “news goggles” to find out!

This week, we talk to Washington Post reporter María Luisa Paúl about her recent story on 7-year-old Tariq, whose love of corn made him a viral sensation. Paúl explains what makes a topic newsworthy in her role as a reporter for the Post’s Morning Mix team, which “covers stories from all over the nation and world.” She also highlights what a story like Tariq’s — who was dubbed “Corn Kid” by the internet — reveals about social media, internet culture and our world. Grab your news goggles!

Note: Look for this newsletter feature the first Monday of the month. You can explore previous News Goggles videos, annotations and activities in NLP’s Resource Library under “Classroom Activities.”

Resources: 

Dig deeper: Use this viewing guide for the featured News Goggles video as students consider what makes a topic newsworthy and how journalists organize their reporting.

News Goggles annotations and activities provide news literacy takeaways on timely topics. These resources feature examples of actual news coverage, including full news reports, headlines, breaking news alerts or excerpts.

This video originally appeared in the Oct. 3, 2022, issue of The Sift® newsletter for educators, which explores timely examples of misinformation, addresses journalism and press freedom topics and examines social media trends and issues. Read archives of the newsletter and subscribe here. Stock music in this video was provided by SoundKit from Pond5.

Have feedback about this resource? Or an idea for a future News Goggles? Please share it with us at thesift@newslit.org.

“Storm Lake” discussion guide on the importance of local journalism

This guide serves as a companion for adult learners and community members viewing the PBS documentary Storm Lake, a film about the struggles of sustaining local journalism and shows what these newsrooms mean to communities and American democracy overall. The guide has three main components: pre-viewing, during viewing and post-viewing activities.

The pre-viewing activities use one or more essential questions to focus on viewers’ engagement with news and their opinions about its relationship to their community and to American democracy. The essential questions are:

  • What is news?
  • What role does news play in your family members’ lives? In your community?
  • Is news important in a democracy? Why or why not?

The during viewing portion includes discussion questions that can be completed whole or in-part, individually, or in small groups. These questions include:

  • Is profit a motivation for the [Cullen] family? Why or why not?
  • Art Cullen: “A pretty good rule is that an Iowa town will be about as strong as its newspaper and its banks. And without strong local journalism to tell a community’s story, the fabric of the place becomes frayed.”
    • a. In your own words, what point is being made in this quote?
    • b. Do you agree? Why or why not?
    • c. How does this quote fit into your definition of news and its role in the community?

The post-viewing activities return to the essential questions raised prior to viewing and seek to extend engagement with local journalism. These options include keeping a news log for a week and evaluating a source (log included in the guide), interviewing family or friends about their news habits, engaging directly with local news organizations on social media or writing a letter or email to an editor with a suggestion for a story.

News Goggles: Miguel Otárola, Colorado Public Radio

News Goggles annotations and activities provide news literacy takeaways on timely topics. These resources feature examples of actual news coverage, including full news reports, headlines, breaking news alerts or excerpts. 

This video originally appeared in the Dec. 6, 2021, issue of The Sift® newsletter for educators, which explores timely examples of misinformation, addresses journalism and press freedom topics and examines social media trends and issues. Read archives of the newsletter and subscribe here. Stock music in this video was provided by SoundKit from Pond5.

Newsworthiness is a key concept in news literacy. With so many stories competing for attention, journalists must determine which events and issues to cover, and how prominently. This week, we talk to Miguel Otárola of Colorado Public Radio about how he decides which story ideas to pursue in his role covering climate and the environment.

“When you talk about newsworthiness, I feel like you can’t get any more newsworthy right now than climate change,” Otárola said.

Climate change, he added, “impacts everything,” from where and how people live to the jobs they have and how they get their food.

Otárola offers insights for his story on restoring forests after wildfires, which recently aired on the NPR and WBUR show Here & Now.

“We are in a place where a lot of different states in the West are going to have to deal with this,” he said. “What will a healthy forest look like after a wildfire tears it down?”

Otárola also sheds light on how journalists select quotes for news reports and the importance of presenting information in context. Grab your news goggles!

Note: News Goggles will be back Feb. 7. You can find previous News Goggles annotations and activities in this guide, or in NLP’s Resource Library under “Classroom Activities.”

Resources: “Practicing Quality Journalism” (NLP’s Checkology® virtual classroom) and “Quotes in news reports” (NLP’s News Goggles activity with classroom-ready slides).

Dig deeper: Use this viewing guide for the featured News Goggles video as students consider what makes a topic newsworthy and why information should be presented in context.

Have feedback about this resource? Or an idea for a future News Goggles? Please share it with us at thesift@newslit.org.

This poster features five reasons that people fall for conspiracy theories, which are among the most persistent and dangerous forms of misinformation. Young people are particularly vulnerable to them.  

One reason that people fall for conspiracy theories is compelling stories  conspiracy theories present exciting, fascinating narratives. A second reason is simplified explanations  complex social issues and problems are rarely clear-cut. Conspiracy theories provide people with simplified explanations and someone or something to blame. A third reason is motivated reasoning  believers in conspiracy theories tend to only search for and present information that confirms their theory, and to find far-fetched reasons to dismiss anything that proves them wrong. A fourth reason is a sense of belonging  many conspiracy theory communities provide believers with a sense of connection and purpose that all people need. A fifth reason is cognitive biases  conspiracy theories seem much more credible and compelling than they actually are because they take advantage of common errors in the ways we think. 

The poster also features and explains the terms “proportionality bias” as well as “illusory pattern perception,” or “patternicity.” Proportionality bias is an innate impulse to believe that major problems have major causes. Illusory pattern perception, or patternicity, is a natural tendency to see meaningful patterns and connections in unrelated events and details.  

The poster is based on a new Checkology lesson called “Conspiratorial Thinking, which is available through the News Literacy Project’s free Checkology® virtual classroom. In the lesson, learners have the opportunity to explore why people are drawn to conspiracy theories and how cognitive biases can trick them into believing that they are real. The lesson — which is hosted by Renée DiResta, research manager at the Stanford Internet Observatory, who investigates the spread of false narratives across social networks  introduces important concepts relating to conspiracy theories. In addition, several assessment questions challenge learners to apply the concepts and information introduced in the lesson.  

From sporting events to breaking news, many stories compete for journalists’ attention, but limited time and resources prevent newsrooms from covering everything. Moreover, much of what happens in a given day is not news. Journalists must also decide which stories are legitimate to avoid amplifying information that is false or misleading or that fails meet certain standards of credibility. So, how do journalists decide what to cover? Understanding the criteria that standards-based news organizations use to determine what is “newsworthy” is a key news literacy concept. This poster outlines the factors that determine newsworthiness, which impacts what issues and events get covered — and how prominently. These factors include how timely, important, interesting and unique a story is. At the News Literacy Project, we call these “The Big Four. Journalists — who often juggle multiple story ideas at once — use these key criteria to help decide which stories the public most needs to know in a given news cycle. 

 This poster is based on the “What is News?” lesson available through NLP’s free Checkology® virtual classroom. In this foundational lesson, journalist Paul Saltzman of the Chicago Sun-Times guides students through a series of examples that invite them to step into the role of journalist and practice developing their own “news judgment.” Evaluating how timely, important, interesting or unique a story is, students assess the newsworthiness of examples and gain a deeper understanding of how difficult such decisions can be. What happens, for instance, when a story is timely without being particularly important, interesting or unique? Is it still newsworthy? Do some factors weigh more heavily than others, depending on the story?  

The answers are not always clearcut, and different journalists may approach such decisions differently. It can be easy to criticize coverage decisions or complain about story placements in publications and broadcasts. But working through tough news judgments firsthand in this lesson — from deciding which stories are most important to determining how these stories should be ordered on a news organization’s online homepage — empowers students to engage more thoughtfully in conversations about news coverage.  

Can your students name all five freedoms listed in the First Amendment? Consider this: A recent survey revealed that 29 percent of Americans could not name any of the five freedoms in 2019. This poster helps remind students of those freedoms — including the right to a free and unrestricted press — protected by the First Amendment. Not only does a free press play a vital role in a robust democracy, it also emphasizes the power and importance of information — and that, in turn, affirms the civic and personal value of being news-literate.  

Students can also use this poster to review the full text of the First Amendment, which shapes Americans’ everyday lives. These five freedoms — petition, assembly, speech, religion and press — are foundational to the country’s commitment to individual rights and civic responsibilities.  

This poster is based on the lesson “The First Amendment,” which is available through the News Literacy Project’s free Checkology® virtual classroom. In this foundational lesson, subject matter expert Sam Chaltain helps students explore six landmark First Amendment cases as they reflect on issues such as student speech in school, defamation and libel, flag-burning, and regulation of the internet. In each case study, students are invited to consider the significance of these rulings and discuss whether they agree with the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the law. As Chaltain explains, it’s important for students to understand that “First Amendment law is not clear-cut like a lot of other laws,” which means that “determining which expression is protected and which isn’t is far from an exact science.” Learning about the First Amendment in all its complexities presents rich opportunities for class discussion and debate. 

By focusing on First Amendment protections in action, this poster and accompanying lesson give students a deeper, more personal understanding of the First Amendment’s value to citizens, of the ways its protections have changed and evolved over time, and of their own First Amendment rights. 

Reasoned arguments based on facts and evidence are an important part of civic discourse. But what happens when missteps in logic undercut a belief or claim? What really counts as “evidence” in the digital age? Social media has made it easier than ever to share opinions, and it can feel overwhelming to sift through the many viewpoints on an issue or debate. Opinions can be well-researched and backed by evidence, but they can also exhibit faulty reasoning.  

 It’s important for students to recognize common red flags when it comes to evaluating arguments and evidence. Logical fallacies — types of faulty reasoning that render an argument questionable or invalid — often appear in opinions that seem to make a point but fall apart under scrutiny. This poster defines five common logical fallacies — ad hominem, slippery slope, false dilemma, straw man and false equivalence — and helps students become better equipped to assess diverse opinions as they develop their own well-reasoned positions on issues.  

This poster is based on the lesson “Arguments & Evidence,” which is available through the News Literacy Project’s free Checkology® virtual classroomKimberley Strassel, who writes opinion pieces for The Wall Street Journal, guides students through this scenario-driven lesson. Students are invited to watch a debate unfold on social media over standardized testing and cell phone usage in schools. The engaging scenario challenges students to examine a flurry of opinions on a developing story as they work to recognize common logical fallacies in action. This lesson also encourages students to reflect on the role of social media in everyday life. 

 An essential component of a healthy democracy is discussing and debating the issues that affect both individuals and entire communities. Knowing how to spot faulty logic in civic discourse — on social media or elsewhere — can help empower students to better evaluate the many opinions they encounter each day. 

Illustration of the title "What Is News?"Newsworthiness is a key news literacy concept. It helps students understand that what appears as “the news” on any given day is the result of a series of judgments and conversations in newsrooms across the country and around the world. Helping students understand the major factors that drive news judgment — how important, interesting, unique and timely an event or issue is — is vital to helping them understand and think critically about the news they encounter in their daily lives. Requiring them to make news judgments of their own can help them appreciate how difficult such decisions can be and learn how to evaluate and respond to the judgment of professional journalists.

News judgment frequently plays a role in criticism of news media. Politicians, activists and the public often complain about how much — or how little — news coverage is given to a particular issue or event. But sometimes these complaints do not accurately reflect actual reporting. (You should make a point of noting to students that while many people make assertions about what news media do or do not cover, it’s always important to verify whether those assertions are true by surveying and reviewing actual coverage.)

Giving students an understanding of newsworthiness as a concept, and helping them develop the skill of news judgment, allows students to do more than just criticize; it enables them to enter the conversation about so-called agenda-setting and to engage with such criticisms when and where they encounter them.

In this lesson, students use four key criteria to explore how journalists determine which events to cover, and feature as top stories, in a news cycle. Then they apply these criteria to both hypothetical and actual news events to make their own news judgments.

This lesson makes the following essential questions available:

  • What makes an issue or event “news,” and who decides?
  • What factors should be used to determine which issues and events are newsworthy, and who decides?
  • How should news outlets decide which stories to feature? In other words, which stories should lead a television newscast, or be placed on the front page of a newspaper?
  • How might the level of diversity in a newsroom influence news judgments?

This news literacy classroom activity is suggested for grades 7-9 and 10-12+.

Key terms:

  • News judgment
  • Newsworthiness
  • News value
  • Lead story

Connections with other NLP resources:

  • What Is News?” lesson on NLP’s Checkology® virtual classroom

About classroom lessons:

  • NLP’s lesson plans cover core news literacy subjects that help provide educators with the resources to design their own units. Many of these lessons have a corresponding version on NLP’s e-learning platform, Checkology. You can find activities, quizzes, infographics and posters that complement many lessons in NLP’s resource library.

Story explorers: Evaluate news coverage

magnifying glass with "fact" insideIn this classroom activity, students select an event or issue in the news that interests them, then split into research teams to collect and evaluate coverage of the subject from different news organizations.

Each group is responsible for gathering and analyzing the quality of the reporting from their assigned media outlet(s). They use a K-H-W-L chart that reflects what they know, what they’ve heard, what they want to know and what they learned in the course of their inquiry, research and reflection.

This activity is designed to help students better understand newsworthiness (what makes an issue or event worthy of news coverage) and learn how to analyze coverage by collecting and evaluating news reports.

It also makes the following essential questions available:

  • Do news media sometimes cover a subject too much? Do they sometimes cover other subjects too little?
  • What steps do credible news organizations take to try to ensure accuracy?
  • Are some sources of information more credible than others? Why or why not?
  • Whose interests should journalists represent? What is the best way for them to do this?

This news literacy classroom activity is suggested for grades 7-9 and 10-12+.

Key terms:

  • Newsworthiness
  • News judgment
  • News value
  • Verification

Connections with other NLP resources:

About classroom activities:

NLP’s activity plans are designed to be “evergreen” news literacy resources that help educators introduce and reinforce specific news literacy skills and concepts. They are often best used as follow-up and extension activities from specific NLP lessons, either in the resource library or on Checkology.