How young people learn through news

Alison Lee, Hong Kong Baptist University

News gives us information, through it we gain knowledge and make value judgements. News literacy means that one can appreciate the value of news, how to interpret it and how to apply that knowledge socially.

Generation Y or net generation –born after 1980, rebellious and activists. In Thailand they are called ‘strawberry generation’, they look pretty but don’t press them as can’t take pressure!

These ‘children’ are more knowledgeable and literate than their parents. They are the first global generation and they are a force for social transformation.

The emergence of  ‘we media’ –media that is not produced by formal news agencies but by anyone. Same idea as ‘citizen journalism’. Net generation don’t news via formal sources – news will find them. High correlation between news consumption and personal development. If you are interested in improving yourself you will consume more news.

‘Young people’ are ‘prosumers’ both producing and consuming the news.

Reflective thinking skills introduced into news literacy programme. Students need to know what they are doing as ‘prosumers’ and have a sense of decent participation. These skills should be a civic responsibility. Previous idea was that if you taught critical thinking skills then would create critical news consumers but this does not always follow. Now integrating notions of positive psychology (‘happiology’) into the news literacy programme to create greater understanding of impact and how to consume the news. Most popular course at Harvard is positive psychology, Harvard Medical School recently published a report on this.

When studying Chinese earthquake there students were more willing to be volunteers, appreciate own context and be more active and engaged news consumers. They also had a greater sense of how to express their views in a constructive way. Positive news literacy could shape future news consumers more constructively.

One Reply to “How young people learn through news”

  1. Ms. Lee,
    I’m the director of the Center for News Literacy at Stony Brook University, where the undergraduate news lit course was developed in 2005. Our Summer Institute for News Literacy teachers starts on Monday and I’d love to be able to tell them about your work. My email is and I’d love to see your syllabus or any links to the course. Another interesting connection, I took Tal Ben-Shahar’s “Happiness” course at Harvard when I was there as a Nieman Fellow. GREAT COURSE.

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