Thursday, March 29, 2012

April 2 Deadline: Last Call for Why News Matters Applications

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Why News Matters application deadline of April 2 is fast approaching. If the three informational sessions we held are any indication, there will be scores of excellent ideas. More than 100 organizations participated in the informational sessions, while others connected with us later online.

If you’ve missed the informational sessions, we’ve posted our March 9 Why News Matters overview webinar for online viewing. Very soon, we’ll add recordings of our two news literacy guest presenters, Dean Miller of the Center for News Literacy at Stony Brook University, and Geanne Rosenberg of Baruch College.  In the meantime, feel free to browse the presentation slides from our March 27 informational session below:
Download Geanne Rosenberg's presentation
Download the Why News Matters overview presentation 

And we have taken Why News Matters on the road.  Since developing the concept in January, the Journalism Program staff has been talking with universities, news organizations, libraries, community groups, jobs training programs, educators, civic organizations, arts groups, media literacy organizations, digital folks, entrepreneurs and independent journalists. We’ve truly enjoyed these conversations and your thoughtful ideas and questions about shaping a long-term strategy and approach to news literacy in Chicago.

To help you prepare your application, we’ve compiled a few additional frequently asked questions from our recent informational sessions:

Many of you have asked us to elaborate on our evaluation process and requirements. We’re pleased to share our evaluation logic model to give you a better sense of our program goals and framework and how your ideas might align. We plan to develop more detailed evaluation metrics from our work with Why News Matters grantees.

How can news literacy be incorporated into an area like work-force training? 
News literacy is intertwined with media, digital and other literacies. We feel there are synergies with these disciplines in citizenship, workforce development and workforce reentry programs. McCormick, for example, funds digital navigators at the Chicago Public Libraries. Much of this traffic comes from older people looking for jobs. Another example: Financial literacy teachers better connect with students by illustrating curriculum with relevant current economic events. We want to know your ideas on how news literacy skills align with other learning skills.

You say you want to engage the community. What’s your take on the role of journalism in advocacy and community organizing? 
We are exploring this question now more than ever in the past. That said, we are firm believers in pure journalism skills.  We’re certainly looking at  different ways that people learn and engage, but the focus has to be on informing and stimulating citizen action through a news literacy lens.

Do I have to create a separate user name and log-in for every application I submit? 
You may submit multiple applications using the same username and password. Each application you submit will be assigned a unique identification number to help you keep track of your applications. See below:

At any time, you can access and work on your application(s) by logging into your grant application account by logging-in from You can toggle between Submitted Applications and In Progress Applications by clicking on the “Show” drop down menu on the top right hand corner.

Remember: To apply, fill out this brief application form on our online application system. Note: If you are a new user to our online application system, you'll need to enter your e-mail address and create a password. If you already are registered with us, you can use your existing McCormick Grant Request log-in and password. (Current grantees: This is the same log-in and password you used to complete your year-end grant reports).

Please submit your applications by the end of business day April 2.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Register Now: Webinar on Youth and Information Quality

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Berkman Center for Internet & Society and McCormick Foundation Present A Webinar on Youth and Information Quality.  

A McCormick Media Matters Webinar 

Date: April 20, 2012 
Time: 2 pm CT/ 3 pm ET 

Learn from experts at the Berkman Center about how young people interact with digital media. If you want to learn more about news literacy and get ideas for various news literacy applications for youth, you won't want to miss this free webinar!

Program Description 
The Youth and Media Team at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society will introduce the concept of "information quality" and discuss where it comes from and why it's useful for looking at how young people interact with the Internet and digital media. Youth practices of searching for, evaluating, creating, and sharing online information will be at the center of this conversation. In many respects, such practices - and the underlying skills - form the core of “digital citizenship”.  The Internet affords young people myriad opportunities to consume and create news information and to participate in online networks, which require various types of interactions with online information. 

The webinar will start with a discussion of key insights from the Berkman report, “Youth and Digital Media: From Credibility to Information Quality.” The report describes the process by which youth engage with online information, including the connected phases of information seeking, evaluating, creating, and sharing. The report also considers how youths' dynamic process of information use can differ at home, among friends, or at school. After introducing these ideas, the webinar will discuss how the online news ecosystem is a rich setting for testing the potential of youth content creation. When youth create media, they often enhance their searching and evaluating skills in the process. By consuming and contributing news in new ways, youth are changing what it means to be a citizen and participant in online communities. 

Register now

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

McCormick Recognizes Next Generation of Student Journalists

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

More than 300 student journalists from around the city were rewarded for outstanding work at their high school media outlets by the McCormick Foundation and the Scholastic Press Association of Chicago on March 16.

The event, held at Roosevelt University and the Chicago Cultural Center, included a series of awards to the teens and their respective print and online newspapers. Among the awards were the winner for overall layout, overall newspaper, community story, entertainment story and Journalist of the Year, which came with a $1,500 scholarship.

The 20th annual ceremony also included workshops by professional journalists on issues such as hyperlocal reporting, newspaper design and generating story ideas. A workshop by Maura Hernandez of the Chicago Tribune highlighted the use of various digital tools, such as networking social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Storify, to enhance articles. Another presentation, by Dean Miller of Stony Brook University, delved into ways in which news literacy fosters a more engaged and discerning citizenry.

A full list of the award winners can be found here.

Congratulations to all of the participating schools and journalists, including Diana Rosen of Whitney Young who won the award for Journalist of the Year.

Check out video from the event featuring some of the student participants:

For more information on other Scholastic Press Association events, visit:

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Missed the Why News Matters Webinar? Watch the Replay!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Last Friday, the Journalism Program hosted a webinar about the Why News Matters initiative and answered questions from applicants and interested parties.

A few of you asked about where to find additional research about news literacy. We've compiled a list of current research projects and programs, and will be adding more to the list in the upcoming weeks.

Check out the replay of the webinar below:

We will be hosting one more informational sessions this month about Why News Matters, where you can learn more about news literacy from experts and have a chance to ask the Journalism Program staff any questions you may have. The event is in-person meetings, which will take place at the McCormick Foundation's offices on March 27 at 3 p.m. CT. We still have a few spots remaining, so please register ASAP.

We look forward to continuing the brainstorming and conversations with you.

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WBEZ's Eight Forty-Eight Features News Literacy

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Our theory of change is that if we invest in news literacy programs, Chicagoans will become smarter news consumers and ultimately more engaged as citizens. This morning, I had the privilege to join Tony Sarabia, host of WBEZ's Eight Forty-Eight, to discuss our new funding initiative, Why News Matters.

The discussion also included two of our grantees: Dean Miller, director of Stony Brook University's Center for News Literacy and Teresa White, the news program coordinator for Free Spirit Media. Free Spirit is one of Chicago's premier youth media organizations and is at the forefront of blending news literacy principles into its training programs.

You can tune into the recording of today's broadcast on WBEZ's website.

By the way, Dean Miller will be in Chicago on Friday to work with high school journalism advisors at the Scholastic Press Association of Chicago conference, hosted by Roosevelt University.  This summer, Miller will be conducting a news literacy training  for Chicago area educators. We will provide more details as they become available.

We look forward to hearing your Why News Matters project ideas and invite all type of organizations―
non-profits, businesses and individuals―to submit applications on how to create a more news-literate, critically thinking Chicago citizenry.

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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Journalistic Ramifications of the Illinois Eavesdropping Law

Thursday, March 08, 2012

The McCormick Foundation is a staunch supporter of the First Amendment, press freedoms and civil liberties. Always has been, always will be.

That’s why we are delighted that the troubling Illinois Eavesdropping Act has been declared unconstitutional and now awaits possible review by the state’s Supreme Court or repeal by the state legislature.

The Journalism Program played a role in calling attention to the statute, which outlaws the recording of either private or public conversation without the consent of all parties involved. I get that part.  It becomes overly strict by specifically banning audio recording of police officers, though it does allow for silent video recordings and photographs.  The kicker is that it’s a felony with a sentence of up to 15 years in jail.

In January, we sponsored a town hall meeting at Loyola University on the journalistic ramifications of the Eavesdropping Act. McCormick grantee Lucy Dalglish of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of Press said the statute is the only law of its type in the United States because it criminalizes the nonconsensual recording of conversations to which the participants have no reasonable expectations of privacy.

“The law makes it a crime to audio-record all interactions with police officers, even those in which either the police or the citizen may be engaging in misconduct,” she said. “This threatens the core values of free speech and a free press enshrined in the First Amendment.”

Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said the law makes no sense at a time when so many citizens have the capability of smart phones.  Moreover, the city’s top cop told the town hall that recording police doing their jobs can help in the defense of officers accused of misconduct.

Our keen interest in the subject was fueled late last year after Loyola journalism professor Ralph Braseth filed a complaint against police.  Braseth was detained after recording the arrest of a teen near Loyola’s downtown Chicago campus and the officer allegedly erased the recorded file.

The eavesdropping story illustrates the potential impact of civic engagement and solid journalism.
We are confident that our upcoming Why News Matters initiative will offer effective ways to educate and energize Chicagoans. Remember the April 2 deadline for responding to the Request for Ideas.

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Open Government Training for Journalists and Citizen-Journalists

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Free training seminar for journalists, citizen-journalists and any interested individuals.  Celebrate Sunshine Week by learning the best practices for obtaining access to government records and helpful methods for effectively using the Illinois Freedom of Information Act and Illinois Open Meetings Act.

When:             Saturday, March 17, 2012, 12 – 2 p.m.
Where:            Chicago-Kent College of Law, 565 W. Adams, Room 580
Agenda:          Introduction by Stephen Franklin (Chicago Headline Club)

Attorneys Maryam Judar (Citizen Advocacy Center) and Natalie Brouwer Potts (Center for Open Government) address the following topics:

  • Freedom of Information Act (FOIA):  the nuts and bolts of making a request, getting help from the Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor, appealing FOIA denials, obtaining records in the most useful format, submitting standing requests and how to sue the public body.  We will review sample FOIA letters and discuss common FOIA problems.
  • Open Meetings Act (OMA):  monitoring government meetings, how to spot and challenge an improper closed session, and typical First Amendment issues.  We will review examples of OMA violations.
  • Angela Caputo of the Chicago Reporter:  hear from a journalist with a history of FOIA and open government experiences.
  • General Questions:  We will leave time for general questions from the audience.  For specific advice, you will have an opportunity to speak with the attorneys after the training to set up a free consultation.

RSVP: Please email the Chicago Headline Club at to confirm attendance by March 16, 2012.  Attendance is free.  Everyone is welcome.  Please indicate any specific topics you would like the training to address in the RSVP.  

The Open Government Training for Journalists and Citizen-Journalists is sponsored by the Chicago Headline Club, Citizen Advocacy Center and Center for Open Government.

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