NLPeople: Andrea Lin, design manager
This is part of a series that introduces you to the people behind the scenes at the News Literacy Project.
1. Can you tell us a little about your background and what brought you to NLP?
How I joined NLP has often felt like a stroke of luck! I studied public relations and graphic design in college, and after graduating, I knew I wanted to explore opportunities that would allow me to contribute to my passions in design, journalism, and youth development. For a bit, I felt torn on what direction to follow, like I had to make a choice on one or the other. When my previous managing editor forwarded me the visual designer opening at NLP, I couldn’t believe how perfectly this position matched the intersections of the ways in which I wanted to make a difference in the world.
2. While studying at American University, you were editor-in-chief of a student magazine and co-chair of the university’s Student Media Board, which comprised 10 publications. Did you confront issues related to news literacy in that work, or have you been able to look back on those positions through a news literacy lens?
I think American University is a very well-read bubble, evident in the number of students active in media organizations and the multitude of professional opportunities given for networking and internships. It was exciting to be able to learn and collaborate with classmates and professors who were all very invested in the mission of quality journalism and meaningful storytelling. I was an undergrad between 2014 and 2017, and I think one of the more prevalent conversations was one that was also happening across other college campuses at the time: the role of a journalist and the standards of objectivity when they come up against current social movements. We had ongoing conversations about distinguishing the ethics and role of op-eds, freedom of speech and what it means to represent critical perspectives.
Looking back now, learning to navigate these issues as they played out across the country was an invaluable way for us to really see the immediate and pressing consequences of news literacy on civic engagement. I think that same ethos is also how Checkology® and NLP have found such a winning formula in how they approach news literacy education, tying these concepts to real-world current issues with real impacts on our everyday lives.
3. What is the most surprising thing you have learned or experienced since joining NLP?
I used to believe plainly that having more information and more access to news sources was always a “good” thing and meant it was easier for more people to stay informed. Early on when I joined NLP, I was surprised to have this belief challenged, although it feels very obvious now. More access and more information alone does not lead to more informed decisions — they have to be accompanied by critical thinking skills and the ability to sift and evaluate what is worth consuming. I think about this NLP tip about an abundance of information and how true it has been with the spread of COVID-19 misinformation.
4. What news literacy tip, tool or guidance do you most often use?
I love digital verification tools that help me fact-check shared images or videos on social media. As easy as it is these days to manipulate images, there are also so many neat resources online that are free and accessible that we can use to investigate digital media ourselves. Both in my work and in my personal life, it’s been super useful to know what kind of visual clues to look for in a photo and how to do a reverse image-search or using Google Maps.
5. Aside from fighting for facts, what else are you passionate about?
In my spare time, I volunteer annually for a weeklong Taiwanese American youth summer conference in the Midwest. We foster personal growth and leadership skills with our campers from grades one through 12. I love getting to see our young campers challenge themselves and grow so much in just one week. Being with my community is very grounding, and it fills my heart every year to see how much these children care about the world around them. They are constantly impressing me and surprising me with what they accomplish. Folks love to underestimate children all the time, but I see for myself how individuals can thrive when you show them that you believe in them.
6. Are you on team dog, team cat, team wombat? Or do you prefer stuffed animals to pets? (If you have a pet, please consider sharing a photo.)
I am a big fan of all furry pets, and I will always stop to admire a cutie when they pass on the street, but I am unquestionably Team Cat.
7. What one item do you always have in your refrigerator?
I get made fun of for this all the time, but I genuinely just enjoy the taste of V8 and tomato juice. When I’m feeling particularly wild, I’ll indulge with the spicy hot version of V8.