Nieman Foundation at Harvard
“Flexicles,” story alert systems, and other ways AI will serve publishers, reporters, and readers
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March 10, 2017, 12:24 p.m.
Reporting & Production

The “fake news” conversation has ballooned into a larger question around how to do a better job of teaching a younger generation of readers how to read the news: helping them understand how that sausage is made, where stories come from, how to identify reputable sources, how social and sharing platforms factor into the creation and dissemination of news, and how to apply these lines of critical thinking to evaluating all kinds of information.

An obvious contributor to any news literacy push worldwide would be news organizations themselves, but where do you start? A new series of reports from WAN-IFRA — commissioned by the American Press Institute and focusing on efforts outside the U.S. — takes interested organizations through different possibilities of participation, with an accompanying database of 130 sample projects focused on improving news literacy for children and teenagers, from different countries around the world. (Definitely check out the database; there are quite a few ideas that are both impactful and easily executable. The rest of the series of reports rolls out over the course of March and April.)

The first installment of the report explores how to effectively teach younger, digital native news readers about evaluating news and information in a digital space, as “the result can be only good news for people interested in making sure there will be a continuing audience for professionally produced journalism.” In Germany, Schleswig-Holsteinischer Zeitungsverlag got banks to sponsor an initiative:

For teenagers, Schleswig-Holsteinischer Zeitungsverlag combined developing a news habit with providing the latest new device to use. SH:Z is in a region of Germany where tablet penetration was low, and the publisher got sponsorship from two banks to create a tablet-based news literacy project in local schools based on the newspaper’s app. Thus, students got a first experience with using the technology (provided by the education ministry) in a news literacy context provided by the local publishers with teachers able to download a manual (in German) for free.

In Sweden, an app built for grade schoolers walks them through questions that encourage thinking critically about news topics:

For example, Lilla Aktuellt Kollen is an app for children 8-12 produced by the national Swedish broadcaster SVT for its children’s news show. In a secure space, children can interact with staff using their mobile phones and tablets to answer questions, give their opinions and share their feelings on different topics discussed on a broadcast aimed at them. The app also compares their answers with those of other users, and aggregated results are shared on the website. SVT keeps contact information confidential.

And in Finland, Ilta Sanomat, one of the country’s evening tabloid papers, partnered with popular young vloggers to anchor news reports:

In fact, Finland’s Ilta Sanomat worked with the country’s leading young bloggers to have some fun with fake news. They invited young online celebrities to read the news on YouTube broadcasts for a week in a project branded. They did it partly to “create content that interests and engages young people to be a part of the story,” according to project director Matti Markkola. The reaction was huge. Amid a potential audience of 600,000 10- to 19-year-olds, more than a million interactions occurred with #Kupla during the week.

There are other nuggets of advice and also links to other resources and manuals available in the full WAN-IFRA report.

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