MEDIA 211: News Literacy in a Digital Age is now a CUNY Common Core

By Madelle Tabunda 

Hunter College students can satisfy a CUNY Common Core and become more news literate this fall.

The Journalism Program’s MEDIA 211, also known as “News Literacy in a Digital Age,” has been designated the fourth class that Hunter students can use to fulfill the CUNY Common Core English Composition 2 requirement.

In this course, students learn how to evaluate news stories on any platform for credibility and reliability, and write a series of personal reflections, essays and a research paper applying those skills.

The first essay is a personal reflection on a mandatory news blackout during which students avoid consuming any news and social media for 48-hours. They also write a research paper where they use concepts learned in the class to reach an informed opinion on an issue in the news.

As the writing in this class is more academic than journalistic, Professor Sissel McCarthy, who developed the Hunter course, strongly encourages students to take it not only because it fulfills a core requirement but also because of the importance of news literacy.

“The class teaches students how to become more critical news consumers by really teaching them what good journalism looks like,” McCarthy said. “In this day and age, with so-called fake news all over the internet, it is vital to identify what is credible news versus what isn’t.”

Professor Stephen Daly, a journalist and adjunct who began teaching MEDIA 211 this spring, said students will learn an important skill set.

“I think the course is essential, not just for journalism students but for any thoughtful citizen,” Daly said. “The amount of bogus news coming through social media channels is so large that it’s crucial to have tools for deciding what’s reliable and what’s not.”

For next fall, the class will meet on Thursdays at 4:10-5:25 p.m. for lectures led by McCarthy. That session will be accompanied by a lab where students can work on their writing and apply what they learn from the lectures. These lab sessions will be led by McCarthy and adjunct professors Daly, David Alm or Coralie Carlson.