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Time for informed civic engagement


2018 is the season of the which

by John Bowen, MJE

Student journalists must learn to face key questions this fall, not only in terms of scholastic media but also in terms of informed civic engagement:

For example, which information inundating them deserves their belief and active support and which deserves their active skepticism:
• Which version of the truth about collusion in the issues surrounding election meddling?
• Which vision of what America stands for will prevail in the 2018 midterm elections?
• Which political, social, scientific, medical, cultural and educational positions most accurately present reality?
• Which skills will students develop so they cannot only tell the difference between information, misinformation and disinformation but act successfully on those differences?

Responding and acting on these questions – and others below – are among the SPRC’s mission this year.

In other words, when students question authority, as citizens or journalists, they must also question what authority said, authorities’ credibility and reliability and what authority has to gain.

Some call this skeptical knowing or learning. Not cynicism. Not the attack dog theory of media.

The watchdog.

On the scholastic side we need to address the following actions:
 • Organize groups to push for New Voices passage so all student journalists are free of censorship and prior review.
• Prevent misinformation and disinformation by strengthening the information gathering and presentation process.
• Develop consistent principles and processes to ensure all reporting is verified, credible, complete and  in context.
• Build a foundation for all of this by strengthening scholastic media Mission Statements, Editorial Policy, Ethical Guidelines and Staff Manual procedures into a single Staff Guide consistent for all student media in a school district.

Part of the decision making process we face is how to think critically. We all must tell the differences between dis-, mis- or credible information. Students must also be able to how to act on dilemmas which face us.

Students able to plan actions that deal what they confront is a key factor in news literacy’s role in democracy’s future.



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