NewsBrands Ireland has launched the seventh year of Press Pass, its news literacy and student journalism Transition Year programme. Over 80,000 students have benefited from the free schools programme so far and interested schools are being invited to register for this year’s Press Pass at www.presspass.ie
With the full support of the Department of Education, Press Pass seeks to improve news literacy and critical thinking skills while helping students to develop a deeper understanding of news media and how it communicates about the world around them.
Through Press Pass, students become familiar with a variety of language types (information, argument, narration, persuasion) that they will encounter during the Leaving Certificate English programme. Students also learn to analyse content and are asked to think and form opinions about important social issues.
Participating schools receive free newspapers, a Teacher’s Lesson Plan and a specially created student workbook. Students are encouraged to engage with the newspapers in the classroom, to analyse them and then to create their own original journalism, the best of which is entered into a national competition. Categories include: News, Features, Opinion, Sport, and Photojournalism. This year also sees the addition of two new categories – the ‘School Newspaper Competition’ and the ‘News Literacy Student Challenge’.
The ‘School Newspaper Competition’ will allow the whole class to take part in this fun and educational project which will give students a hands-on experience of the news publishing process. Teachers can take the role of Editor-in-Chief and assign roles to students such as researchers, writers, photographers, videographers, sub editors, reporters, and designers. Further category details can be read here
Press Pass gives students the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of the media, how it works and who to trust by learning to do journalism themselves. If a student knows how good journalism is made, then they are better equipped to interrogate the information that bombards them daily. The ‘News Literacy Student Challenge’ invites students, either individually or as a class, to teach their newly acquired news literacy skills to junior students or an older relative. Research has found that the best way to understand a concept is to explain it to someone else. In what scientists have dubbed “the protégé effect”, students enlisted to tutor others, work harder to understand the material, recall it more accurately and apply it more effectively.
The chairman of the Press Pass programme is former Irish Times journalist and Professor Emeritus at the School of Media, DIT, Michael Foley.