After leading Newsday to multiple Pulitzer Prizes, Howard Schneider embarked on a new career in public education as Founding Dean of Stony Brook University’s new School of Journalism.
At a time when the traditional newspaper business model was collapsing and the audience for online journalism exploded, Schneider went to work with Stony Brook University President Shirley Kenny to build the first School of Journalism in the 64-campus State University of New York system.
While teaching a course in the ethics and values of the American press, Schneider realized that a large cohort of students were either lost in the digital flood of information or had adopted a defensive cynicism, unwilling to trust that information could be anything other than spin.
Seeing connections across academic disciplines, he collaborated with hard science, social science and humanities experts at Stony Brook to build a course that helps students understand their own biases as well as the importance of reliable information to their inherited role as stewards of a democracy.
Thus emerged Stony Brook Journalism’s unique mission: training the next generation of citizen news consumers is at least as important as training the next generation of journalists.
With start-up funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, since 2007 the Center has taught News Literacy to over 10,000 Stony Brook undergraduates across all academic disciplines.
In addition, almost 7,000 students at 18 universities in the United States and in 11 countries overseas have taken localized versions of our course. Through the Overseas Partnership Program, the Center has brought News Literacy to countries including Poland, Russia, Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Myanmar.
For younger students closer to home, Herbert S. Eisenberg Intermediate School 303 in Brooklyn, and Northport High School, Cold Spring Harbor Junior/Senior High School, and Longwood Senior High School offer News Literacy classes.
A grant to further civics education from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation has enabled Center staff to train middle school, high school, and community college educators in the Chicagoland area to teach News Literacy.
Beyond our individual partners and collaborators, the online Digital Resource Center serves as a clearinghouse for innovative news literacy curriculum materials for students, teachers, and the general public.
Our massive open online course, Making Sense of the News: News Literacy Lessons for Digital Citizens, developed in collaboration with our partners in Hong Kong, will extend the Center’s reach even farther once it’s launched on Coursera in January 2017.