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Stony Brook University’s School Of Journalism And LSU’s Manship School Of Mass Communication Partner To Advance News Literacy In The U.S.

Stony Brook University’s School Of Journalism And LSU’s Manship School Of Mass Communication Partner To Advance News Literacy In The U.S.

STONY BROOK, NY, MARCH 12, 2009 — Louisiana State University today announced the creation of the nation’s first endowed chair that will be dedicated to working with Stony Brook University’s pioneering program in teaching News Literacy.   


    The announcement of the partnership came at a Stony Brook conference, “News Literacy:  Setting a National Agenda.”  The conference, running March 11-13, brings together university leaders, journalists, educators, policy makers and foundation leaders to craft a national strategy on how to teach News Literacy to university and high school students. 


    Made possible by a gift from Dee Dee and Kevin Reilly, Sr., the chair will be named for Dee Dee’s brother, Wendell Gray Switzer, Jr., Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy who lost his life while on active duty.  The Switzer Chair will work with Stony Brook in leading a national initiative to provide citizens with the knowledge required to navigate contemporary media and become critical consumers of news, advertising and other information. 


    “Thanks to the foresight of the Ford and Knight Foundations, we have a national model in Stony Brook’s Center for News Literacy.  The Switzer Chair will be focused on assisting the Center while developing a Media Literacy program at LSU. Combining our resources and knowledge signal a new way of doing business among the academic industry, the media industry and the philanthropic community,” said John Maxwell Hamilton, Dean of the Manship School.  “We owe a debt of gratitude to the Reilly family for their lifetime commitment to an informed and engaged citizenry.”

    Already, nearly 3,000 undergraduates, from across all academic disciplines, have taken Stony Brook’s course in News Literacy, which teaches students how to judge the reliability and credibility of news reports, whether they come via print, television or the Web.

    “This partnership ratchets up our efforts to create a nationwide program,” said Howard Schneider, Dean of Stony Brook University’s School of Journalism and the Executive Director of the Center for News Literacy. “In a world full of hype, spin, infotainment, unfiltered tweets, propaganda and self-promotion, it has never been more important for students – and citizens – to learn how to identify reliable news and information. We hope many more universities will join the Stony Brook-LSU partnership.


    The Switzer Chair will work with the Center to expand courses among non-journalism students across college campuses and high schools, to create and distribute adaptive, innovative course materials, to work with the media industry, to explore trends such as why citizens turn off the television or choose not to read a newspaper, and to serve as an engine for action on how to improve citizens’ ability to retrieve information necessary to make well-informed decisions.   


    The Manship School of Mass Communication is the only school in the country that offers degree programs at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels focused specifically on media and public affairs.  The Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs, where the Switzer Chair will be housed, is an integral component of the school’s dedication to help advance good government initiatives and public participation.  The Reilly Center will work with the Switzer Chair and the news literacy movement to conduct symposia and research that bring new ideas and action to the classroom and the newsroom. 


    The Center for News Literacy was established in 2007 at Stony Brook University’s School of Journalism. Its mission is to educate current and future news consumers.  The Center serves as a resource center for universities and high schools across the U.S.  The Center also develops programs, designs conferences, seminars, lectures, and workshops that bring together journalists and academics to explore issues related to the reliability of news. 

  Contact:  Howard Schneider




                John Maxwell Hamilton






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