AARP Eye Center
I founded the News Literacy Project (NLP) in 2008, with the belief that knowing how to identify credible news is an essential life skill in an information age — and that this was not being widely taught in schools. We are a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that creates tools and resources to help educators teach and the public learn how to determine what news and other information to trust, and to have the ability to be informed and engaged participants in the civic life of the country.
The problem I’m trying to solve
We are living in the most complex information ecosystem in history. News and credible information are competing for people’s attention with far more content that is designed to persuade, sell, mislead and misinform. Students and many in the general public lack the ability to discern what they should trust, share and act on.
In a 2018 survey of 5,035 adults, researchers from the Pew Research Center presented participants with 10 statements they might see in the news and asked them to identify which ones were factual statements and which ones were opinions. Only 35 percent of the participants correctly identified all the opinion statements, while a mere 26 percent identified all the factual statements. Misinformation represents one of the greatest challenges of our time. It is undermining our public health, as well as our public life, and threatens our democracy. NLP’s mission has never been more urgent.
The moment that sparked my passion
In 2006, when my daughter’s middle-school teachers learned that I had won a Pulitzer Prize as a reporter at the Los Angeles Times, they invited me to speak to 175 sixth graders at the middle school about what I did as a journalist and why it mattered. After the talk, my daughter brought home 175 handwritten thank-you notes that we read aloud. I could see what had resonated with the students and had sparked an interest in news and journalism. I realized that if a lot of journalists brought their expertise and experience into America’s classrooms, this could have a meaningful impact. That was the seed that eventually took root as the News Literacy Project.