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The nonprofit news research project welcomes the former educator as CEO with plans to expand

The nonprofit news research project welcomes the former educator as CEO with plans to expand

Fourteen years after its founding and with a disinformation landscape far more horrific than anyone could have predicted, this summer’s news literacy project will be the new CEO, marking a transition in leadership but not a change of direction for education-oriented nonprofits.

On June 30, founder and CEO Alan Miller, a journalist and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, will resign, allowing Charles Salter to take the top spot.

Salter, who currently holds the position of President and Chief Operating Officer of NLP, will bring to the growing staff of the organization his experience in the field of education – teacher, director, head and leader of a non-profit organization.

In 2008, when Miller embarked on a news research project after attending his daughter’s 6th grade, he thought news literacy would become an important skill for students and faculty in an age of growing social media and smartphones. Indeed, it will prove even more critical than he expected.

Misinformation has “become one of the biggest – if not the biggest – problems of our time,” Miller said in an interview with EdSurge, reflecting on the organization’s history and trajectory. “It emphasizes everything else: immigration, climate change, population health. If we can’t agree on what the fact is – if the market for ideas is collapsing – then how can we ever reach a consensus to solve other great problems of our time? How are we ever going to bridge the digital divide – the digital abyss – when we have different realities of the pandemic, the election results, the war in Ukraine with Russia? ”

Miller added that 14 years ago, if someone had told him that tens of millions of Americans would later believe and would promote “absolutely discredited conspiratorial thinking” – and act accordingly in a way that would affect public health decisions and our health democracy. – he would not believe.

“In many ways, I feel we have moved from a voice in the desert to an answer to prayer, especially after the 2016 election,” he added.

From the beginning, NLP has sought to be strictly non-partisan, seeking to teach people to think about the news and information they consume rather than what to think about it, Salter explains. The organization did so through a weekly email newsletter called Sift, an online learning platform called Checkology, and other resources and programs that together reached about 2 million students in the past year and more than 50,000 faculty in all 50 states and 120 states. countries.

A number of major developments in recent years, including the 2016 U.S. presidential election, have highlighted the need to increase news literacy – the COVID-19 pandemic and the January 6, 2021 Capitol riots, the main ones being. During this time, the news literacy project has evolved from a niche nonprofit to a leader in national efforts to create a more demanding community, ranging from youth and educators.

Now that disinformation and misinformation continue to distort the facts and manipulate the truth – the most recent example of such a scale as the Russian invasion of Ukraine – NLP has gained momentum.

In the first 14 years, the organization raised more than $ 35 million from a combination of funds, corporations, large and small donors. It has also grown to 30 employees. Over the next four years, NLP aims to raise $ 36 million and double to 60 employees. This summer alone, NLP hopes to hire and fill 15 new positions.

Part of this expansion, which will be led by Salter, involves efforts to reach not only teachers and students but also the general public.

“We do this through the exponential growth of the organization and don’t steal anything from education,” Salter explains. “We’re just building a new half.”

As NLP develops it will continue its work in education and create more software on this side. One attempt is to help more states adopt media literacy requirements, as Texas and Illinois have done. Others include plans to develop a graduate course that prepares educators to teach news literacy, and a national news literacy conference for faculty and students.

“We’re going to take our practice to the next level with what we didn’t do – community building, training, certification,” Salter says.

As for the general public, the organization plans to create a platform that everyone can visit to check the facts on major issues and current events, as well as learn more about how to evaluate news and distinguish reliable information from incredible.

“Our goal now is to turn the mission into a national movement,” Miller said. “We want to change the way people share and consume information so that there is a much greater sense of personal responsibility. We want to change the culture we’ve seen with regard to smoking, drunk driving and rubbish. This is a key fact and a key factor in the new plan of our organization. “

If Salter takes the helm this summer, Miller will remain with the title of founder and will work full time for an additional year, primarily raising funds for NLP and advising Salter. He will remain on the board indefinitely, he says.

Salter, for his part, says that although he will embark on a period of rapid growth and expansion of NLP, staff and the general public can count on stability and continuity under his leadership.

“My management style and strategic planning and what I prioritize have gradually become the organization’s approach. I don’t think people will see much difference, ”he says. “I’m not sitting on anything that could change dramatically, no drastic shift in culture or even a change in our priorities because they’ve merged together over the last four years.”

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