News That Defined Us, a new NFM funded free cross-curricular resource created by Tyneside Cinema in partnership with BBC Newcastle and Whickham School, Tyne & Wear, is now available to all UK schools following its official launch at the Houses of Parliament.
Tom Watson MP and fellow members of the Department of Media, Culture and Sport Committee including Damian Collins MP helped launch the programme, which highlights the personal and intimate experiences associated with news production.
News That Defined Us aims to teach young people the importance of media literacy, encourage them to explore issues more deeply and help navigate truth and bias within the news.
The launch saw pupils from Whickham School and Tom Watson debate the news gathering process. Members of the Department of Media, Culture and Sport Committee also reinforced how young people need to engage with the news agenda and improve their media literacy in order to remain objective when making sense of unfolding events.
“The UK’s media is currently at a crossroads and truth and meaning have never before been under such scrutiny,” said Watson.
“I applaud Tyneside Cinema’s commitment to providing a platform for debating news values and empowering young people with regards to the way in which they analyse and make sense of the media. Tackling this subject at an early age is vital in ensuring that society approaches the news agenda in a fair and balanced manner.”
News That Defined Us is the result of an ambitious project that spanned four school years and nine curriculum subjects over a nine-month period. With the help of renowned BBC icons and broadcasters such as Kate Adie and Alastair Leithead, who covered their experiences in the UK, Washington, China and Afghanistan, the project provides 200 interactive questions to support 30 hours of broadcast news footage.
Exploring crime, conflict, politics, media, culture and bias, the comprehensive programme brings together broadcast journalists, eyewitnesses and schoolchildren in plenary sessions where the pupils get the opportunity to ask the questions.
Funded and supported by the UK Film Council, Heritage Lottery Fund and Northern Film & Media, News That Defined Us is expected to be a valuable resource for schools throughout 2012 as the media continues to be at the heart of the news agenda.
“News is now more accessible than ever and the advent of social media has provided multiple channels for people to consume the media,” adds Mark Dobson, Tyneside Cinema’s chief executive.
“Children are becoming increasingly disengaged with mainstream news organisations, often opting for partisan or unsubstantiated information sources on current affairs and the world around them.
“News That Defined Us provides a unique resource for both teachers and students by offering the perspective of the reporters, the subjects and those witnessing the events.”