A Healthy Democracy in the Digital Age Depends on Teaching News Literacy

I’m in New York City for the inaugural 2010 High School News Literacy Summit, which’has brought’together 200 students from ten NYC public schools, along with’teachers, administrators, journalists and journalism educators from around the country.’Here, the approximately 300 people attending are participating in an all-day series of meetings, panel discussions and events aimed to raise the profile of news literacy education and to continue exploring what tools students and educators need to become better informed, more engaged’citizens.

The timing couldn’t be more perfect, as the summit immediately follows the release of Digital and Media Literacy: A Plan of Action. This is the second in a series of white papers focused on implementing recommendations of the Knight Commission’s groundbreaking report,’Informing Communities: Sustaining Democracy in the Digital Age.

This’also follows the U.S. Department of Education’s release of its own”National Education Technology Plan, which addresses the powerful role technology can play in learning the skills necessary to thrive in the digital age. At the same time, however, this report stresses that technology works best when paired with effective teaching.

We here at Knight Foundation couldn’t agree more with this philosophy, which is why we are particularly interested in the intersection between digital and media literacy, especially in the creation of’digital tools that can accelerate the teaching of 21st century literacy skills not just in schools but throughout communities.