Building news savvy: Best practices
WHAT IS IT?
Press Pass is a news literacy program that engages Irish teenagers by helping them learn different writing styles. The program targets 16-year-olds, preparing them to enter a national contest. Retired editor John Moore called this “one of the better national youth news literacy programs,” similar to the US.-based News Literacy Project. The course work is open to all students, who learn the role of newspapers in a free press while analyzing news stories.
WHO’S BEHIND IT?
National Newspapers of Ireland (NNI), now known as NewsBrands Ireland, and the Department of Education started the program in 2012. It was designed for students to “learn all about newspapers and the writing, analysis, preparation and photography that’s involved in putting one together.” Twitter and The Irish League of Credit Unions have sponsored the program. The project was tagged as “notable” by Áine Kerr, co-founder of NevaLabs.
DOES IT WORK?
More than 10,000 transition-year students participated in 2018, and nearly 80,000 in the popular initiative’s first six years. A total of 255 schools (half of those eligible) took part the first year, and the number keeps growing. WAN-IFRA compiled a database noting the program checked eight of 13 news literacy categories (including doing production, simulation and learning how journalism works) in Aralynn McMane’s report about worldwide news-literacy practices.
HOW TO DO IT
This five-month-long program begins with in-class studies, including a workbook to guide analysis of Ireland’s national newspapers. Teachers receive a guide for class discussion and students use newspapers in the classroom for study as they eventually attempt to create their own journalism to enter into a national competition.
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Sayo Akao is a recent graduate from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism & Mass Communication. As digital communication specialist in the News Co/Lab, Akao is assisting the team to create positive change in news literacy through a variety of different approaches.