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PBS NewsHour launches student reporting website

The PBS NewsHour has launched a new student journalism project called “Student Reporting Labs,” which connects students with professional mentors at their local public broadcasting station to produce original news reports on important national issues.

The project’s website, studentreportinglabs.com, includes a collaborative space where students can interact with professional journalists, as well as their peers from around the country who are working on the same topic.  The program also includes a news literacy and digital media curriculum designed to nurture students’ understanding of news, build a foundation of civic engagement, and spark a life-long interest in current events. Developed by the Media Education Lab at Temple University, this curriculum features more than a dozen lesson plans that focus on understanding the role of journalism in society; developing communication skills, such as listening, asking questions, and public speaking; and finding, analyzing, and evaluating the quality of information.

Last year, in a pilot phase, the PBS NewsHour worked with six local stations on the project, involving 230 students who produced 15 news reports that looked at issues such as climate change and the Supreme Court from local, youth-oriented perspectives. For example students in Austin, Texas, interviewed a judge, a law professor, and a parent about life sentences for juveniles, and students in Salt Lake City interviewed constitutional experts about the difference between the rights of minors and the rights of parents.

In its second year, Student Reporting Labs project aims to expand the number of students participating in the program, while also focusing on at-risk school and community settings. The program also will develop a “rapid response” model for national events that receive significant news attention, such as the Gulf oil spill.

“The Student Reporting Labs are a natural extension of the NewsHour’s commitment to education, quality journalism, and the transformation of public media,” said Leah Clapman, managing editor for education. “Each student who participates in the Lab gains information and media skills, news savvy, and curiosity about national and community issues. They experience the power of getting and telling a story to an authentic audience.” http://www.studentreportinglabs.com

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