Journalism is the field in which news and information are created and disseminated to the public.
Very much like teaching, it educates people on a lot of things: on the biggest news of the day; on where they can go to eat and relax; and, in this pandemic, where they can get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Now, why is it important to learn journalism in general education, when there are specialized, advanced courses for this?
Expressing through journalism
Journalism was initially exclusive to the written or printed word.
Journalism is also a great avenue for students to express themselves, and the more they get used to writing out their feelings, the better they become.
You may soon be looking at a future novelist or journalist. And more story-tellers can only mean good things for the future.
Battling fake news
In a time when fake news is as widespread—and looks and feels as valid—as legitimate, verified information, it is important, now more than ever, to equip the youth with the knowledge or ability to discern fact from fiction, the good from the bad.
The question is, ‘How do we do it?’
Perhaps, the most obvious answer to this is to include a starter subject on journalism into the curriculum.
But that may not be feasible at the moment, given the world’s current affairs.
An alternative is to integrate bits and pieces of the journalistic method and principles into general education classes, to which they are most suited, such as English, or Social Sciences.
Teachers may broach the subject in the form of an interesting activity.
Our suggestion: Invite the students to analyze the content they create on the social apps they use. Have them select one particular post, and begin the discussion there.
Here are basic points that you may use to facilitate the flow of the lesson: “Who or what is it about?”; “When and why did you post this?”; “Was the information true?”; “How will this post affect your audience (your family, teachers, and peers)?” (Modify the questions or the actual activity as needed, to accommodate the age and learning capacity of each class.)
You can also ask questions that address critical media literacy: “WHO are all the possible people who made choices that helped create this text?” “HOW was this text constructed and delivered or accessed?” “HOW could this text be understood differently?” “WHAT values, points of view, and ideologies are represented or missing from this text or are influenced by the medium?” “WHY was this text created and shared?” “WHOM does this text advantage and disadvantage?”
End the workshop by asking them to write what they have learned in the process.
The activity is a good and casual introduction to the intrinsic questions used in newsmaking—the five W’s and one H; the interactive discussion will also teach them about facts, how these facts are converted into information, and how they can use their words well to express their thoughts.
In addition, this exercise emphasises in them the importance of truth-telling, and how false information can possibly harm others.
Learning these values at an early age helps to give students the ability to understand the meaning behind what they read, hear, and watch.
The right tools for life
Journalism is about giving people the right tools, so that they can arrive at the best decisions for themselves.
In the same vein, teaching students the importance and skills needed in journalism is giving them the right tools they need in order to navigate through life with ease and finesse.
Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopaedia (2020, May 6). Journalism. Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/topic/journalism
Chatfield, T. (2019 September 9). Why We Believe Fake News. BBC. https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20190905-how-our-brains-get-overloaded-by-the-21st-century
CJR, T. Editors. (2013, September/ October). What is Journalism For? CJR. https://archives.cjr.org/cover_story/what_is_journalism_for.php
Escalante, A. (2020, August 3). Research Finds Social Media Users Are More Likely To Believe Fake News. Forbes.com. https://www.forbes.com/sites/alisonescalante/2020/08/03/research-finds-social-media-users-are-more-likely-to-believe-fake-news/
Meyer, P. & The Learning Network. (2018, March 22). Promoting Literacy With Journalism Education and The New York Times. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/22/learning/lesson-plans/reader-idea-promoting-literacy-with-journalism-education-and-the-new-york-times.html
Ojalvo, H.E. (2011, August 24). Student Journalism | Three Benefits of Newspaper Programs. The New York Times. https://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/24/student-journalism-three-benefits-of-newspaper-programs/
UNESCO and the Swedish National Commission for UNESCO. (2019). Understanding Media and Information Literacy (MIL) in the Digital Age. https://en.unesco.org/sites/default/files/gmw2019_understanding_mil_ulla_carlsson.pdf
Jeff Share, Tatevik Mamikonyan and Eduardo Lopez https://oxfordre.com/education/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780190264093.001.0001/acrefore-9780190264093-e-1404