Stony Brook University’s curriculum from the Center for News Literacy is spreading to other schools and universities across the globe.
The School of Journalism has partnered with several middle schools and high schools on Long Island, including Northport High School and Cold Spring Harbor Junior/Senior High School, and colleges like Nassau Community College and Florida Gulf Coast University. The Center for News Literacy is also sharing its curriculum globally, with universities in Hong Kong, Russia, Australia and Italy. Fifteen universities currently teach the course, according to Howard Schneider, founding dean and former professor of the School of Journalism.
“I’m very proud and very pleased that Stony Brook is a national and global leader in trying to help people figure out what information they can trust and what they can’t and it’s never been more urgent and never more important,” Schneider said.
When Stony Brook University’s School of Journalism was established in 2006, news literacy was not originally part of its curriculum. It wasn’t until later that Schneider realized many students were lost in the “digital flood.” The news literacy course — developed by Schneider in 2007 — allows students to develop critical thinking skills, judge credible and reliable information in all forms of media and help students understand journalism, according to the website.
“Training journalists is not enough,” Schneider said. “Journalism schools have to begin to train the audience as well as the journalist.”
He also mentioned that no one else in the country was taking on the “mission” to help others understand the consumption of news. Schneider said that it’s very important for news consumers to be aware of how they’re consuming news, especially with the country’s “preoccupation” with fake news. He added that it is “vital” that news consumers identify content that is “real and valuable.”
Jonathan Anzalone, a lecturer in the School of Journalism and assistant director at the Center for News Literacy, said that about 11,000 undergraduates have taken the news literacy class at Stony Brook.
Anzalone’s goal is to make sure that students are being “critical” news consumers. He believes the earlier news literacy concepts are taught to younger students, the more “habitual” those skills will be for them as they get older.
He added that the center shares its lesson plans with 200 other professors and local teachers in an email group called “The Feed” where they can tailor the lessons to the needs of their students and audience group.
“The idea behind ‘The Feed’ is to provide teachers, librarians and others the News Literacy materials, free of charge, and they can do whatever they like with them,” Anzalone said.
Lyn Millner, a professor at Florida Gulf Coast University and a subscriber to the Center for News Literacy’s email group, said that she found out about the news literacy course through a Google search when she was just forming the journalism program at her university around 2006-2007.
When she came across the Center for News Literacy at Stony Brook, she traveled to meet with Schneider and sat in on a news literacy class at Stony Brook. She found it was exactly what she was looking for.
“I think it’s one of the best journalism classes and definitely very useful for all platforms,” Jessica Coacci, a sophomore journalism major at Stony Brook who took the course, said.
She added that the class has made her better at “judging a news outlet before reading and how to tell if a source is credible.”