Stony Brook’s Center for News Literacy launches groundbreaking MOOC

Six-week online course helps consumers decipher fake news from reliable information


Stony Brook’s Steven Reiner shows how to deconstruct an article.

STONY BROOK, NY, USA – December 12, 2016  – How can you find reliable information in a flood of fake news, propaganda and advertising all dressed up to look like real journalism? How can modern societies thrive if their citizens are misinformed about topics as crucial as public health and safety?

The Center for News Literacy at Stony Brook University’s School of Journalism has been working on this challenge for almost a decade and will soon offer an online version of its news literacy curriculum that more than 15,000 university students and media educators in ten countries have taken over the last decade.

‘Making Sense of the News: News Literacy Lessons for Digital Citizens,’ is a groundbreaking massive open online course (MOOC) produced by the Center and its partner, the Journalism and Media Studies Centre (JMSC) at the University of Hong Kong.

Hosted on the online learning platform Coursera, the course will help students develop the critical thinking skills needed to judge the reliability of information no matter where they find it — on social media, the internet, TV, radio and newspapers.

“This course is designed to give citizens the tools to sort fact from fiction, news from promotion, and fact-based opinion from emotional assertion,” Stony Brook School of Journalism Dean Howard Schneider said. “These lessons are based on work we’ve been doing in this field for almost 10 years, and we believe they can benefit anyone interested in honing their ability to find reliable information.”

The six-week course will be open to students of all ages and will feature 3-5 minute videos on key news literacy concepts (with subtitles in English, Chinese and Spanish) presented by the JMSC’s Anne Kruger and Stony Brook’s Steven Reiner. The videos will be complemented by recommended readings, quizzes and opportunities for discussion with other students from around the world.

Each week will tackle a challenge unique to the digital era:

Week 1: The power of information is now in the hands of consumers
Week 2: What makes journalism different from other types of information
Week 3: Where can we find trustworthy information
Week 4: How to tell what’s fair and what’s biased
Week 5: How to apply news literacy concepts in real life
Week 6: Meeting the challenges of digital citizenship

‘Making Sense of the News’ will begin on January 9, 2017 and is now open for registration. To learn more, visit the course’s Facebook or Twitter page.


 About the Center for News Literacy

Housed within the School of Journalism at Stony Brook University, the Center for News Literacy is the only university-level research and curriculum development institute in the United States teaching students how to use critical thinking skills to judge the reliability and credibility of news reports, whether they come via print, television, radio, the internet, or social media. The Center’s animating principle is that the ability of a nation’s citizens to judge the reliability and credibility of information will be a leading indicator of the public health of civil societies.

With start-up funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Center has taught News Literacy to over 10,000 Stony Brook undergraduates across all academic disciplines in the past decade. In addition, almost 7,000 students at 18 universities in the United States and in 11 countries overseas have taken localized versions of the course.

Additional support from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation has facilitated the creation and dissemination of innovative news literacy curriculum materials for students, teachers, and the general public through its online Digital Resource Center.

About the School of Journalism

The Stony Brook School of Journalism was established in September 2006. It is the first and only undergraduate Journalism School in the SUNY public higher-education system.

In addition to its academic program, the school oversees two centers: The Center for News Literacy and The Marie Colvin Center for International Reporting. The School of Journalism is also the founding home of the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science.

Download a copy of this press release here.

Erika Karp
Staff Assistant, Center for News Literacy, Stony Brook University School of Journalism
Office: 631-632-7637