Renee Hobbs, University of Rhode Island / Media Education Lab
The PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs program (www.studentreportinglabs.com) connects middle and high school students to local PBS stations and broadcast news professionals in their communities to report on critical issues from a youth perspective. Through a project-based, active learning model, students learn how to synthesise information and investigate important topics, while building media literacy, communication and problem-solving skills necessary for the knowledge economy of the 21st century. The program involves more than 50 schools and community centers across the country and each site has adapted the pro- gram to meet the particular educational needs of its students, faculty and community. The intended goals of the PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs program are to help students gain a better understanding of what constitutes news; evaluate the credibility of the information they receive via news content; strengthen their appreciation for the norms of professional journalism; and build skills and confidence as communicators through learning how to produce news content in a collaborative real-world environment where what they create may be viewed by an au- thentic large audience and publication becomes the ultimate assessment. Findings from pre-post quantitative research conducted with nearly 500 high school students who participated in the program reveal the development of media production skills that involved gathering and synthesising information, using digital media and technology to communicate ideas in the format of a broadcast news package, and engaging in cycles of revision and feedback to polish their work. This study found significant increases in collaboration and teamwork competencies, including intel- lectual curiosity, the ability to give and receive feedback, and confidence in self-expression and advocacy.
Keywords: journalism, media, media literacy, education, high school, secondary educa- tion, public broadcasting, news, partnership, program, evaluation