There’s a lot of news out there, on paper, on radio, on tv, computer and personal digital devices. Helping consumers get the most out of their exposures to news is one goal of The News Literacy Project, founded by our guest today Alan Miller
One of the privileges of being a local television news anchor, as I was in NYC in the 1970s and early 80s and then in Washington DC in the late 80s, is you get invited to a lot of schools to talk with the children there.
Starting in 1973, I talked with kids about news, where and how they got it, and what they thought about it.
One of the first things I learned was that, for news, as well as for information and entertainment in general, the generation in school in the 1970s, Generation X, was investing a lot more time and focus on screens than on texts on paper.
That investment was being undermined, not reinforced, in school, where the grammar, language and syntax of text was taught over and over, but the grammar, logic and syntax of communication in what we now call video was ignored. Completely. I was told that the students felt less capable of interacting with their TV sets, of questioning and analyzing what they saw and heard, than they did while reading a book or newspaper.
Thus was born a now more than 40 year obsession, with bringing into American public education, as a regular part of the curriculum, lessons to teach children how to watch video, to recognize and understand the defining importance of camera angles, or lighting, or sound or the choices made and the tempo set by editing and so on, grammar, logic, syntax of video.
Since 2009, The News Literacy Project has been taking my idea quantum leaps ahead by de-constructing communications techniques and content in the form of news. NLP classes show how news — video and text — on paper, radio, tv, computer, tablet or smart phone can inform citizens about their world, or mislead them.
Starting with 3 classrooms in Bethesda, MD and New York City, The News Literacy Project today has added thousands of students in Chicago, Washington DC, Fairfax County, VA, Houston and Los Angeles to those in Bethesda and NYC.
Alan Miller reported for The Record, of Hackensack, New Jersey, and The Times Union of Albany, New York. He was a reporter with the Los Angeles Times from 1987 to 2008, and worked as an investigative reporter at its Washington bureau. Then he became the president and CEO of the News Literacy Project.