Journalism Department to Offer
News Literacy Workshops to Freshmen

The Department of Journalism and the Writing Professions will be offering news literacy enrichment workshops to Baruch College freshmen beginning in Fall 2011.  This new program is possible because of a grant from the David and Katherine Moore Family Foundation and collaboration between the department and the freshman seminar program.

"This grant is helping us offer to Baruch undergraduates some exposure to topics such as how to be discerning consumers of news information, how to navigate the jumble of news information available online and how to be credible contributors to online content,” said Professor Geanne Rosenberg, founding chair of the Department of Journalism and the Writing Professions and director of the Harnisch Family Philanthropies collaborative projects. “We hope to build upon this program to include news literacy courses that will be available to Baruch undergraduates."

Baruch College has become a leader in news literacy education and, in particular, in outreach to public high schools and to educators from around the country.  In November 2010, with support from the McCormick, Knight and Harnisch Foundations, Baruch hosted the first-ever high school news literacy summit and an adjacent workshop that brought together national news literacy, youth media, journalism, foundation and education experts from across the country.

"I am very appreciative of the foundation support we are receiving to extend news literacy education,” Professor Rosenberg said.  “Our democracy depends upon having well-informed citizens.  The Internet gives virtually everyone access to almost infinite information and the ability to reach the world through online publication.  Now they need the education and critical thinking tools to navigate and contribute successfully and responsibly."

"The news, and how we get it, is much more complicated than it was when I was a student, when we either read it in the newspaper or heard it from one of a handful of TV networks or radio stations," said Baruch President Mitchel Wallerstein. "Reporters, newscasters and anchor men (and they were all men), like Walter Cronkite, were prominent and revered. Maybe it was a more innocent and naïve time, but we assumed that they spoke the unvarnished truth. Today it seems that everyone has an agenda and a means of communicating. The news is marked by spin, gossip and snark. It comes to us in blogs and tweets, status updates and text messages. We watch it on YouTube and listen to it via podcasts.  And of course, we now have the 24/7 cable news cycle with hours and hours of broadcasting time that must be filled with something, whether factual or otherwise.

"Yet we often do not know anything about the qualifications of the author, or what Stephen Colbert calls the 'truthiness' of the information being conveyed," Wallerstein added. "And too often, what is portrayed as fact is, in reality, opinion — and frequently ideologically-driven opinion at that.  But as the late New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously pointed out, 'Everyone is entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts.'  So, today, you have to work harder to sort fact from fiction. You have to develop critical thinking — and that’s precisely why news literacy is so important."

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