Journalism Panel for Middle School Students

News Literacy Panel
From left to right: The author, Akili Franklin of WDSU, Laine Kaplan-Levenson of WWNO, and Peter Kovacs of The Advocate.

I did something cool back in January. Working with my head of school and our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, I organized a new literacy panel featuring three local journalists for my seventh graders, all of whom take a semester long library class with me that meets 45 minutes a week. The panel featured journalists from three different news formats: Akili Franklin, a Metairie Park Country Day alum and current News Director at WDSU, represented television. Peter Kovacs, Editor of The Advocate, represented newspapers, and Laine Kaplan-Levenson, Producer and podcast host at NPR affiliate WWNO, represented radio. If you haven’t listened to Laine’s podcasts Tripod: New Orleans at 300 and Stickey Wicket, do yourself a favor. They are great podcasts to share with students.

I got to moderate the panel, which was a lot of fun. Like being on The View, I’m sure. Some of the questions we addressed were:

  • Describe the path that led you to your current position in news media.
  • As media producers, what do you feel you owe your audience? How do these values manifest in your work?
  • Why is the First Amendment’s protection of press freedom important to a healthy democracy?
  • Why do politicians and public figures often seem to have a love/hate relationship with the press?
  • How does the need to obtain ratings, advertising, shares, or likes impact your work?
  • What new challenges does your industry currently face? How are those in your field currently working to overcome or embrace these challenges?

It was a great conversation and our three journalists related to the students and complemented each other well. What questions for students would you like to ask journalists? What might your students want to know?

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