Nearly two years ago, on August 9, 2014, Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was fatally shot by police in Ferguson, Missouri. News of the event swiftly spread across national media outlets and the shooting quickly became a flashpoint for a national discussion about race, policing, and justice in the United States.
The media coverage of Ferguson - and the protests that followed - provides an important opportunity for young people to explore how they can be informed and effective participants in today’s digital landscape. How do we all - especially young people - make sense of it? How do we become responsible consumers of news and information as news stories unfold, often with multiple perspectives on the same event?
Our new unit, “Facing Ferguson: News Literacy in the Digital Age,” in collaboration with the News Literacy Project, explores these important questions. Using the news coverage of Ferguson, Mo. in the wake of Michael Brown’s death as a case study, teachers can help their students develop critical thinking and literacy skills.
What we often don’t realize is how our own identity shapes our perceptions of current events. Even reporters and photojournalists need to recognize their own limitations when telling a story in real-time. This urges us all to take a step back when we read a story or see an image and ask ourselves, what information is known and what is still unknown? Watch this video about the different ways people respond to the news using a photo taken from a Ferguson protest.
Asking these questions allows us all to deconstruct the complex narratives that drive current events and how society interprets them. Adults and young people must challenge each other to think about how to be engaged citizens - to question the story that is unfolding, to consider multiple viewpoints, and to be aware of our own identities and perceptions and how those influence the way we make sense of the world around us.
How do your students respond to the news around them? Join our conversation about news literacy in the digital age on August 8 from 4-5 p.m. PT/7-8 p.m. ET. @FacingHistory and @TheNewsLP will host a #sschat (social studies chat) on Twitter.