Taking into account media literacy and the future of the Local News Act – by Jan Wondra
The concept of civic responsibility is given a new face as the country faces the reality that a large portion of its population may not have sustainable local news sources or receive factual information.
Last week, Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colorado) was part of a group of lawmakers who reintroduced the Future of Local News Act in the US House of Representatives and Senate. Other co-sponsors include; Sens. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Penn.) And Marc Veasey (D-Texas). The legislature first presented the draft law in September 2020.
In essence, the bill looks at the role of local journalism and the availability of news for the citizens of a healthy democracy. Journalism through its existence and reporting role adds transparency and accountability to the government. An educated electorate in a democracy has a responsibility to seek and absorb facts on the issues that determine their lives and livelihoods.
The national bill has several supporters including the Colorado Media Project, PEN America, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, Free Press, Society Professional Journalists, LION Publishers, Native American Journalists Association, Common Cause, and the Alliance for Community Media. The bill would create an impartial 13-member committee to examine the state of local journalism and recommend measures to Congress in support of the industry.
Another bill passed in the Colorado Statehouse on May 19 is HB21-1103, which has now been approved and awaits Governor Jared Polis signature. It requires the Department of Education to create and maintain an online resource bank of media literacy materials and resources for Colorado public schools. The bill requires the state Department of Education to review and pass revisions that implement media literacy into literacy and citizenship standards.
There is the word “citizenship” – a curriculum subject that has been largely ignored in schools and educational content for decades.
According to the dictionary, “Citizenship is the study of the rights and duties of citizens in society. The term is derived from the Latin word civicus and means “related to a citizen”. The term refers to the behavior of other citizens, especially in the context of urban development, “and we would add to be good neighbors and responsible citizens.
In addition to civics, the new resource bank will also include “Media Literacy 101”; a new set of tools to help children learn to review sources and spot misinformation online.
The legislature reintroduced a bill to investigate the state of local journalism
The Colorado Resource Bank must contain at least the materials and resources recommended in the report of the Media Literacy Advisory Committee. It requires the department to provide technical assistance to a school district, charter school, institute charter school, or board of directors of cooperative services, with the implementation of guidelines and upon the request of a school district, charter school, institute charter school, or cooperative services committee and subject to available resources Media literacy practices, best practices and recommendations.
The resource bank required by Colorado in HB21-1103 was developed by a non-partisan Media Literacy Advisory Committee composed of Colorado educators, journalists, and national media literacy experts that made recommendations to the Colorado legislature in 2019.
Selected image: Truth image. Courtesy of Byrd.