This program is focused on reaching out to underserved students in socio-economically challenged schools and communities in the city of Cleveland, Ohio by establishing well-constructed and supported media literacy and school-based journalism production programs for grades 7-12.
Media literacy is a key factor to becoming empowered contributors in the local and global community. When students are aware of what is going on in the community and larger world around them, they are more likely to become invested in it.
Additionally, participating in scholastic media is an excellent way to develop the skills needed for critical thinking and engaging in academic and civic issues.
Students involved in scholastic journalism programs earn higher grade point averages, score better on the ACT college entrance examination and demonstrate better writing and grammar skills in college, compared with students who do not have those journalism experiences (Newspaper Association of America Foundation study, Jack Dvorak, Ph.D., 2008). Students empowered in a journalism role feel important, competent and validated as people worthy of asking important questions and having them answered.
Students often do not realize that they not only have the option but the right to question the authority figures in their lives. In some cases distressed communities have perpetuated a fatalistic philosophy that younger generations accept as the norm. Students in economically depressed areas have less access to opportunities and resources that offer skills in leadership, writing, editing, communication, interviewing, design, marketing, web building and photography.
Knowledgeable students are better equipped to be change agents in their communities. They know the issues that need to be addressed to promote positive change. Students at both pilot and partner schools will leverage their experiences to better understand each other and widen their worlds.
The pilot program will assist students (from 7th-12th graders) in a Cleveland school in establishing a school-based, administration-supported, responsible scholastic media program. This school will partner with a school outside urban Cleveland with a thriving scholastic media program. The goal will be two (or more) publications—at least one dedicated to the pilot school and its community and the other a joint venture with the partner school (web-based). The scholastic media program should be offered as a course for credit (preferably at the honors level in high school) with a major emphasis on media literacy. Under the supervision of a highly trained and experienced adviser, the students will determine how these publications will serve their schools and communities. This program is to be provided at no cost to either school.
Participants will have:
- Greater facility in asking questions and evaluating responses
- Increased media literacy among participating students
- Empowered students who can positively influence peers
- Improved self-esteem, academic performance and graduation rates
- Opportunities for constructive, relevant work
- Collaborations with peers from a variety of social groups
- Training from professionals in the journalism and media fields
- Exposing students to new and different scholastic communities
- Enlightened and well-informed students
- Creating a dialogue between students and their communities
- Instilling ethical standards in journalistic practice
- Increasing diversity of participants and content in all media
- Providing opportunities for networking and professional development