We all need to be news wise during an election campaign.
Democracy depends on informed voters, and to be fully informed, voters depend largely on the media for news and information.
Within the increasingly complex media ecosystem, it is the journalist’s job to provide citizens with fair and accurate information they need to make educated decisions at the ballot box. And it is the citizen’s job to analyze, evaluate and understand the news and commentary presented throughout election campaigns.
Given this imperative, I am pleased to tell you about a vital new program launched in Ontario schools this month to help students — our voters of our future — understand the critical connection between journalism and democracy.
NewsWise, a national news literacy program for students in Grades 5 to 12, was created through a partnership between the Canadian Journalism Foundation (full disclosure: I am a CJF board member) and CIVIX, a national non-profit that works with elementary and high school teachers to promote civic education among students. CIVIX also runs Student Vote, a program that provides opportunities for students to participate in mock elections during provincial and federal election campaigns.
NewsWise, funded by a $500,000 grant from Google Canada, has distributed lesson plans to 2,500 Ontario teachers in recent weeks. Still in its pilot phase, the full program will be rolled out in advance of the 2019 federal election.
“NewsWise lessons explore the relationship between journalism and democracy, help students to recognize the standards of fact-based journalism, discern fact from opinion, identify the different types of wrong information that circulate online, and provide tools and strategies for evaluating the credibility of information on the internet,” states a CJF-CIVIX brief about the new program.