If you share our mission to help the next generation grasp the value of and the need for real journalism in a world filled with disinformation, you can help! Our all-volunteer effort, now eight months underway, is heading for a pivotal milestone this summer. We have just commenced fundraising to keep on track. We need a total of $30,000 by August. No donation is too small.
The information environment youth navigate today is like nothing previous generations encountered. Whereas established newspapers acted as gatekeepers for trustworthy content in past decades, quality reporting now manifests on our phone screens alongside deceiving fabrications in an unending and constantly updating scroll of online posts. Research reflects that education has yet to catch up to the challenges of rampant disinformation.
A 2016 report from researchers at Stanford Graduate School of Education found students mistook advertisements for news stories and were fooled by a fake account made to look like it belonged to a well-known media organization. Report authors said results raised concerns about the future of democracy. Schools need guidance and resources to counter these trends.
The seed that grew into Journalists in Classrooms was when my friend Mariah, a high school teacher in Yolo County, asked me to visit her class as a guest speaker. This evolved into my pursuing substitute teacher certification to teach journalism topics as a substitute at her school. That led to the idea that other journalists could do something similar.
Founded in fall 2018, JiC arranges journalist guest speaker visits to classrooms and connects teachers with training around teaching news literacy. To date we are an all-volunteer effort. Organizers Allison Joy, Stu VanAirsdale, Vanessa D. Marrero and I have spent eight months networking with journalists and connecting with educators to lay the foundations for ongoing school visits. Stephanie Hays has contributed significant time in recent weeks to developing this website so we can communicate clearly and smoothly with volunteers and contributors. Our inaugural journalist speakers have taken special care to work with us on what are slated to be our first visits to classrooms this spring.
We believe demonstrating the reporting process to students and teaching them how reporters fact-check will result in students better distinguishing fact-based storytelling from advertising or fake news. Providing support for teachers will help us extend our reach and hopefully contribute to establishing formalized news literacy education in schools. We’re planning a day of professional development around news literacy for teachers in Sacramento (funding dependent).
We also want to illuminate the link between a strong independent press and a functioning democracy. As reported in Columbia Journalism Review, academics have connected loss of local news coverage to negative impacts on voting and higher government costs. Explaining to the general public the role the press plays as a government watchdog and check on corporate power is critical to the preservation of these functions and sustainability of news media going forward.
We’re grateful to California Press Foundation, which has made fundraising possible through serving as our fiscal agent; The Sacramento Bee, which provided space for our first meeting and has agreed to host our day of professional development; No Flacks Allowed, which has helped us connect with so many supportive journalists; and The SacCounty Breeze and Steve O’Donoghue, who has generously advised us and helped us get oriented in the world of high school scholastic journalism. We’d also like to thank Food Literacy Center founder Amber Stott and digital media consultant Michael Mott for their guidance on how to build a community organization.
We are fundraising through our fiscal agent CalPress to cover costs of of a day of professional development around news literacy for a group of Sacramento teachers. Funding will also go towards maintaining Journalists in Classroom’s website, costs for CalPress to process funding, educational materials for guest speaker visits, and expanding JiC’s reach. JiC is not part of CalPress. Our goal is to raise $30,000 by August. Help us get started by contributing to our crowdfunding campaign.