Frank LoMonte Authors Article on Student Journalism and Civic Education
Frank LoMonte, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications Brechner Center for Freedom of Information director, is the author of “Student Journalism and Civic Education” published in the American Bar Association’s Human Rights online magazine on Jan. 4.
In the article, LoMonte focuses on the importance of offering high-quality journalism opportunities in K-12 school as part of a well-rounded civics education.
According to LoMonte, “If you set out with a blank page to design a civics course meeting the challenges of the twenty-first century, here’s what it might look like: Students would be encouraged to examine and debate current events, focusing on close-to-home events salient to their daily lives. They would learn to be critical consumers of online information, looking for indicia of bias or unreliability. They would develop the discernment to identify high-quality information about issues of public concern and to build effective arguments based on verifiable facts. This optimally effective civics course is no fantasy. It exists today, and it is called ‘journalism.’”
LoMonte found that scholastic journalism does not just benefit the community but has lasting benefits for the students as well. In schools where First Amendment values are respected there is a higher level of “civic efficacy” when compared to schools that practice censorship.
“One reason that fewer and fewer students exhibit an interest in pursuing journalism is the heavy hand of censorship that prevents them from addressing issues of public concern,” wrote LoMonte. “A great deal of attention and funding has been put into ‘media literacy’ and ‘news literacy’ programs, but merely being lectured about bias and fakery is incomplete preparation for a lifetime of ‘digital citizenship.’ Their expression is not only important for self-realization and personal growth but is invaluable ‘customer service’ feedback for education policymakers—if it is heard and valued.”
He adds, “When student media publications seek the truth and make their own editorial decisions, they utilize the very skills that our education system is built on.”