SUNY Stony Brook Opening News Literacy Center

A bit of regional j-school news: SUNY Stony Brook is bolstering their School of Journalism with a new “Center for News Literacy” with Newsday Editorial Page editor Jim Klurfeld at the helm. The $200k+ project is intended to serve as a journalism resource center for universities across the country and to organize conferences on issues related to the reliability of news media.

Press release after the jump.


Jim Klurfeld, Newsday’s Editorial Page Editor, Named Interim Director

STONY BROOK, N.Y., September 26, 2007—Stony Brook University’s School of Journalism announced today that it would establish the nation’s first Center for News Literacy designed to educate current and future news consumers on how to judge the credibility and reliability of news. The effort is being funded in part with a $200,000 grant from the Ford Foundation.

The Center will act as a resource center for universities across the U.S., develop curriculum for high school instruction and secondary teacher training programs, and design conferences, seminars, lectures, and workshops that will bring together scholars and journalists to explore issues related to the reliability of news from print, broadcast, and the web. Last year, with a $1.7 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Stony Brook created one of the nation’s first courses in News Literacy that the University expects to teach to 10,000 students over the next four years.

Jim Klurfeld, who is joining the School of Journalism as a Visiting Professor, has been named Interim Director of the Center of News Literacy, said Stony Brook University President Shirley Strum Kenny. Klurfeld is the Editor of the Editorial Pages at Newsday.

“Jim Klurfeld is just the right person to lead this new Center,” Kenny said. “His commitment to truth and accuracy was the hallmark of his outstanding career in journalism. Under his leadership, this unique effort will have a lasting impact on students, teachers, and the public.”

“The goal is to equip the next generation of news consumers with the ability to judge for themselves what information they can trust and what information is suspect,” said Howard Schneider, Dean of the School of Journalism, who will serve as Executive Director of the new Center. “We want to create more informed citizens and sustain quality journalism at the same time.”

“The proliferation of new media and new ways to access and distribute news and information presents our society with enormous opportunities and challenges,” said Orlando Bagwell, Director of Media, Arts and Culture at the Ford Foundation. “The Ford Foundation has long standing commitment to strengthening democracy and a critical, informed public is key to the functioning of ours. The Center for News Literacy will help ensure that audiences and consumers understand the role of media in society.”

The Center will develop a pilot program for the public, act as a clearinghouse for “best practices, ” design and develop a Center web site, and extend the News Literacy program to high school students. The Center will be housed in the School of Journalism.

“We are going through a media revolution and it’s critical that students are equipped to deal with that revolution,” Klurfeld said. “I’m excited about the challenge of starting Stony Brook’s Center for New Literacy and believe we can make it into a resource for educators not just on Long Island but throughout the country.”

Stony Brook’s effort in News Literacy began over a year ago in an effort to explore how the digital revolution has spawned an unprecedented flood if information and disinformation around the clock, and around the world. The School of Journalism established the News Literacy course in order to equip all students—not only journalism majors—to make key distinctions between credible news reports and unreliable news reports, between news and propaganda, between assertion and verification, between journalism and entertainment.

“The consequences for individual and collective decision-making are profound,” Schneider said, “as is the question of sustaining an audience for quality journalism in the future. Yet, the problem has gone largely unaddressed by the nationa’s journalism schools, which have focused almost exclusively on training the next generation of journalists.”

Stony Brook’s School of Journalism, the state’s only undergraduate journalism school at a public university, will unveil its “Newsroom of the Future” – a fully equipped, state-of-the-art facility that will serve as a classroom, lab and newsroom—next month. The University established the School of Journalism in June 2006 and began offering a Bachelor’s degree program last Fall.

The Center for News Literacy will differ from media literacy centers at many universities in as much as its sole focus is judging the credibility and reliability of news, as opposed to an exploration of broader media-related issues.

About Stony Brook University

In only 50 years, Stony Brook has established itself as one of America’s most dynamic public universities, an essential part of the region’s economy, and a center of cultural excellence. Nobel laureates, Guggenheim fellows, and MacArthur grant winners teach on the campus, making it a magnet for outstanding students. Stony Brook is ranked in the top 2 percent of all universities worldwide by the 2006 London Times Higher Education Supplement. U.S. News & World Report ranks Stony Brook among the top 100 best national universities and among the 50 best public universities. A member of the elite Association of American Universities, Stony Brook is among the 62 best research institutions in North America. Stony Brook faculty and researchers are leaders in significant national and worldwide projects, including the establishment of a research facility in Turkana Basin in northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia, the management of the national parks of Madagascar, and the uncovering the causes of lobster mortality in Long Island Sound.

About the Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization. For more than half a century it has been a resource for innovative people and institutions worldwide, guided by its goals of strengthening democratic values, reducing poverty and injustice, promoting international cooperation and advancing human achievement. With headquarters in New York, the foundation has offices in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Latin America and Russia.