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Q: How long does it take to become news literate?

A:

It takes exactly 109 days to become news literate, which is great because that is the exact length of Media 211.

But just because you learn how to be a responsible news consumer, doesn’t mean you are one. It’s up to you to practice the critical thinking you will learn in class every day for the rest of your life.

It sounds exhausting, but the reality is that once you get in the habit of applying the five key lessons you will learn in this class–like this week’s “know your neighborhood”–it will become an instinct for you to vet any news before you share it. Your spidey sense will kick in whenever someone says or shares something that sounds like a caricature of information. It’s possible but is it likely? You’ll think twice before liking or clicking on information that doesn’t come from a news source that demonstrates the three hallmarks of journalism: verification, independence and accountability. 

Because new news organizations and news formats are being created almost as fast as we learn about them, beware of judging something as “not news” just because you haven’t heard of it before. Case in point: Before you dismiss a headline from “New York Focus,” take a deeper look. This investigative news start-up run largely by recent college grads will cover New York politics beginning on October 5.

Journalism innovators are also creating models for sustainability, collaboration and engagement all the time. Consider the “Social Journalism” track at Newmark Graduate School of Journalism. The goal of this discipline is to move beyond the number of eyeballs on the page as a measure of “audience engagement.” It strives to train journalists to serve a community by involving them in the reporting, investigation and dissemination of news. This practice has its roots in the citizen journalism of the early 2000s but formalizes it by inviting community members to be a part of the reporting process. The key is relationship-building, something journalists talk a lot about when it comes to their sources, but now the news industry is using it to strengthen ties to the communities they serve.

This evolution of the industry also puts demands on you –the news consumer. You not only have to pay attention to what news outlets produce but contribute when you can as well, which will help make you a news literate consumer and producer of news.