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News literacy resource: Using NewsWhip in the classroom

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Teaching news and media literacy requires a seemingly endless set of contemporary resources. As media changes, examples become outdated, and students move on to the next technology.

A primary goal of news literacy education is to help students see how media operates and its effects on society—in other words, what does the “system” of media look like today?

With this outcome in mind, I’m constantly on the lookout for tools that can shed light on the dynamics of news, social media, technology, and human behavior.

One of my favorite (although admittedly also one of my newest) resources for exploring these topics in the most up-to-date way is via NewsWhip, a website that tracks social media content, how it’s shared, and the human influence of that content.

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Here’s how NewsWhip describes its work:

Through indicators like tweets, shares and comments, people signal what stories are engaging them every minute. NewsWhip’s technology tracks all of this activity for millions of stories to identify those getting the most discussion online.

While NewsWhip is designed as a sort of real-time consulting tool for media companies, its blog provides fresh content and analysis to help students discover more about media and news content today.

For example, an early September post looked at which Republican Candidate was most prominent on Facebook. Using their own data and analysis, including the tracking of shares and comments, NewsWhip provides facts and figures about how candidate information is circulating on Facebook.

The site’s blog posts are not only appropriate for teaching news literacy concepts, but they also often provide insight into using social media and media marketing tools more successfully. These are all topics student media explore on a regular basis, and they provide the perfect context for encouraging students to apply professional media lessons to student media operations.

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