Cronkite School, Facebook to collaborate on media literacy

By

Joe Giordano

Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication today launched News Co/Lab, a collaborative lab aimed at helping the public find new ways of understanding and engaging with news and information. News Co/Lab’s initial funder is the Facebook Journalism Project, and McClatchy is its first news media partner.

The Facebook Journalism Project’s support is a direct outgrowth of the “News Literacy Working Group” that convened last March at ASU. The gathering included experts from around the world who seek innovative approaches to fighting misinformation. Dan Gillmor, director and co-founder of News Co/Lab, spearheaded discussions at the ASU-Facebook gathering to focus not only on the “supply side” of the news equation but also the demand side.

“The launch of News Co/Lab at ASU is a great step forward in accelerating the growth of news and media literacy,” said Campbell Brown, Facebook’s head of news partnerships. “We are proud to work with the Cronkite School to establish this important effort to develop and expand innovative tools for news-literacy-friendly newsrooms.”

The lab’s first project, in collaboration with launch partner McClatchy, will help newsrooms work with their communities to develop innovations that increase transparency, engagement, mutual understanding and respect. Three McClatchy newsrooms will participate, with the Kansas City Star as the lead newsroom, and two to be announced later.

“We are delighted to partner with Arizona State University’s Cronkite School and Facebook to develop innovative ways to strengthen news literacy and build trust between citizens and newsrooms,” said Craig Forman, president and chief executive officer of McClatchy. “We know that local news is essential to thriving communities, and the results of this timely and important collaboration will guide not only McClatchy newsrooms, but also serve as a best-practices template for the media industry.”

The lab will be based in the Cronkite School, a national leader in journalism education. Eric Newton, lab co-founder and the school’s innovation chief, will work with Gillmor and other lab staff on projects. Cronkite News, the student-powered news division of Arizona PBS, will be a test bed for lab experiments.

Over time, the lab plans to work with a variety of partners, from educators, librarians and technologists to community groups and newsrooms of different types and sizes.

“The News Co/Lab aims to promote and accelerate the best work already being done, and to try out new ideas that can help in scalable ways,” Gillmor said. “Our long-term goal is to collaborate with anyone who wants to make critical thinking, honest conversation and reliable news part of our information ecosystem in communities of all kinds.”

"We deeply appreciate Facebook and the McClatchy Company for their support in launching News Co/Lab," said Christopher Callahan, dean of the Cronkite School, university vice provost and Arizona PBS CEO. "The lab fits perfectly with the experimentation, innovation and engagement we practice at Cronkite News."