James Kennedy Public Library and local students part of “News Know How” campaign
A new initiative will provide more than 20 Iowa high school students through eight Iowa public libraries with basic news literacy skills and the tools to become news media ombudsmen in connection with the 2012 presidential campaign. James Kennedy Public Library Director Shirley Vonderhaar and local students Laila Sahir, Sabrina Vonderhaar and Elise Westhoff were chosen to participate in the project.
The “News Know-how” campaign, supported by a grant from the American Library Association (ALA), seeks to create partnerships and collaborations for a nonpartisan, critical analysis of news and information. The students, with public libraries as their “newsrooms,” will learn how to distinguish facts from opinions, how to check the source and validity of news and information, and how to identify propaganda and misinformation.
“In today’s mass media environment it is critical that students are taught to analyze news coverage,” said Barbara Jones, director, ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom. “Through the support of libraries under this initiative, students will be given the tools to assess the accuracy and credibility of news and information access across various media and platforms. They will also be encouraged to practice news literacy by engaging with the media in their communities.”
Students will create digital presentations focusing on one or more aspects of their experience and the lessons they learned from the project. The presentations will be offered to their fellow students as well as to the community through public presentations.
“The library is pleased to be part of such a project and to have such qualified students representing our community” said library director Shirley Vonderhaar.
Other participants in the project are the Chicago Public Library; Oak Park, Illinois Public Library; and the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore. Iowa is the only participant offering a statewide program in the following communities: Algona, Carroll, Decorah, Dyersville, Grinnell, Knoxville, Sibley, and Sioux Center.
Students will receive training either in Des Moines (July 31-August 2) or Cedar Rapids (August 7-9) and work on their projects through the end of November. The program will be assessed by a team at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.