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We’re opening up new opportunities like videos and visits to teach college students fact-checking skills

Alma Matters is a Poynter newsletter designed to bring ideas, news, and insights to those in the journalism education community. Subscribe here to get “Alma Matters Issues”.

Have you ever uttered the phrase “I’ve never won anything!”?

Well first, good for you not to waste money on lottery ticket or slot machines (a personal pleasure in guilty Vegas). I’m here today to tell you that you’re a winner of my book – although I hope you already knew it – and that we’re giving you access to some really cool fact-checking resources for free. After all, enabling your students to spot misinformation online means everyone wins.

Your first option is to bring a fact-checking workshop live to your classroom via our Campus Correspondents. Our trained college students appear virtually in your classroom to publish this Poynter and MediaWise accredited fact-checking workshop. What better way for your students to absorb information validation materials than from one of their peers?

We have a select number of locations left for this semester, so if you are interested in booking a session, simply send an email to ballen@poynter.org and I will send you to our registration portal.

Sessions take about an hour and we have 10 different correspondents to deliver the training, so there’s likely to be a place that fits your class time.

Alternatively, if your class is set and there is no room for an hour-long presentation, consider showing an 18-minute video, “Media Literacy Lessons with MediaWise Campus Reporters,” or assigning it as homework. It’s a short, fast-paced version of the same fact-checking workshop you get in a live presentation by our campus reporters.

Here is a teaser video that will inspire you to get excited about this very useful content.

We would also like to remind people that you and your students can follow us on social media on Instagram, YouTube and TikTok, where you can collect a number of fact checking skills for the low and low price that is absolutely nothing.

We’re also offering Hands-On Validation: A Short Course for $14.95 and a MediaWise Voter Project Validation Certificate for $99.95 (and remember that students on campus with Follett Libraries can charge this content to their account).

As disinformation and misinformation continue to negatively impact our democracy, we are committed to providing you with effective and relevant ways to help your students tell truth from fiction online.

I’ve heard from several of you this week who want more details about Teachapalooza’s content, and I’m happy to report that we’re about to release a timeline.

Here are some highlights of what you can expect (subject to change):

  • Five ways to prove to your students and yourselves that journalism is vital
  • How to teach your students to work freelance for a living
  • Practical ways to infuse diversity, equity and inclusion in your curriculum
  • How to deal with fact-checking and midterm elections
  • Considerations Before Creating News/Academic Partnerships
  • How to use partner videos, lesson plans, and other First Amendment resources
  • Helping students deal with stress, trauma and burnout.

Register here for this virtual and hands-on rejuvenating course for youth. As a reminder, if you apply for Pre-Diversity across the curriculum and are accepted, you will receive $100 of your Teacha tuition fee.

I saw three notable “What I Learned” pieces appear last week.

In What I’ve Learned in 25 Years of Writing at Slate, author William Saletan provided a passage that I thought was especially memorable for all of you: “When you’re young, and you’re lucky enough to get a platform—in case, a writing job at an opinion magazine— It’s natural to think that you are there to stir opinions. You have your problems, your passions, and they take you in. Then, gradually, you begin to understand how little you know and how often you are wrong. You become aware of your own biases, your weaknesses, and your exhausting hustle.” Preach it, William. Excuse me?

Then there were “Four Lessons from Two Decades of Law in the Newsroom” from Richard J. Tufel, the former in-house attorney for the Wall Street Journal and founding general manager of ProPublica. There were some great points from that article, including this gem: “One of the first lessons I learned in reviewing stories before publication is that journalist lawyers are at the mercy of reporters. Quite simply, a lawyer must assume that the facts in a story are accurately reported.” …behind each of the best journalist lawyers stand great reporters.”

Then I decided to incorporate this into “What I Learned Heap,” because it’s funny: “Becoming a Wordle Man.” We see? “I would tell young journalists how confusing it can be when people finally start reading your work. If you settle on a career in media, you will likely produce a mountain of content that reaches an audience that nobody specifically will have until one fateful day where you hit a piece What a subtle nerve lingering deep in the hidden frame of the viral. Without warning, the algorithm pulls your name out of the hat. Ideally, that moment happens when you’ve written something well-deserved, but more often than not you’ll be suddenly diverted over the water, into the overwhelming daylight , because your secondary line is connected to a segment that gets mixed up with any disposable transient direction that consumes bandwidth.”

The Ida B. Wells Association offers three introductory virtual training sessions with expert tips on how to stand out when applying for any journalistic training. They are scheduled for Monday, February 7 from 5:30-7pm, Tuesday, February 8 from 10-11:30 a.m. and Wednesday, February 16 from 10-11:30 a.m. (all times ET).

(Speaking of interns, our team at MediaWise is looking for an audience engagement specialist this semester.)

If you’re – like me – a fan of CUNY’s Wonder Tools Jeremy Caplan, you saw his “Diversify your visuals” newsletter last week. If you are not yet familiar, this is just one example of the great content it offers. If nothing else, it is worth sending in the student media team for more diverse stock photos. Bonus: a ton of them are free.

This week, we’re featuring an intern in Chalkbeat’s Listening and Community Engagement. From the list: “At Chalkbeat, engagement means reporting with and for communities, not about them or them. Participation is at the core of Chalkbeat’s mission to provide essential reporting on schools across America, and our engagement team works with the eight Chalkbeat local offices to ensure Listen to our communities and respond to their information needs.”

You can find this and many other training opportunities in our database.


This week’s lesson is from Stephan Malik, counselor and instructor at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. he is writing:

“One simple and effective way for counselors and educators to encourage professional development is to have all of your students create and maintain a portfolio of their work. Many portfolios appear to be centered around a specific project or only represent senior year work. This is not limited to graduating seniors preparing for the workplace. , but students should practice integrating the moment they enter any program or journalism.

Portfolio consolidation serves multiple purposes for students and advisors:

  • Portfolios are an easy way to keep track of clips for students to curate and for teachers and counselors to grade.
  • Portfolios are an effective way for students to promote their work via personal and institutional social media to build professional habits and practices.
  • Portfolios are an effective way to encourage additional readers of student media when students share and relate their individual efforts.

I am not platform specific. I encourage students to use a free WordPress site (lots of free resources, how-tos and a great developer community); However, Weebly, Wix, and others are also doing well.”

Here are some examples of his student portfolios.

(Do you have a lesson, advice, or guidance that you think would be useful to your fellow journalism educators? Please email me at ballen@poynter.org. Prepare to send me a pitch, photo, and related links if you have them!)

Georgia players celebrate after the College Football Playoff game against Alabama on Tuesday, January 11, 2022, in Indianapolis. Georgia won 33-18. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

It got a lot of “what eight young sports journalists want students to know about starting their careers.”

Subscribe to The Lead’s weekly newsletter, aimed at student journalists, and encourage your students to do the same.

Former quarterback Joe Tissman, left, speaks to Dan and Tanya Snyder, co-owner and co-CEOs of Captain Washington, and former defensive lineman Jonathan Allen during an event to reveal the new identity of the NFL football team. (AP Photo/Patrick Simansky)

Get ready to talk about aerospace. In a statement by Professor Press this week, a news team in Washington, D.C. flies over the field and discovers what appears to be the team’s new name. What ethical issues, if any, should be considered before broadcasting footage?

Well, I learned some new words last week. (This one probably isn’t family friendly. At least not when it’s resolved.)


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