UAS students discuss media literacy at News Engagement Day event

Students at UAS listen to discussion with WikiTribune editor Peter Bale via video conference in London as part of News Engagement Day on Oct. 3, 2017.

Students at UAS listen to discussion with WikiTribune editor Peter Bale via video conference in London as part of News Engagement Day on Oct. 3, 2017. (Photo by Adelyn Baxter/KTOO)

The University of Alaska Southeast participated Tuesday in News Engagement Day, part of a national effort to increase civic participation and media literacy.

Assistant Professor of Communications Rosemarie Alexander, a former KTOO journalist, said she sees as a concerning trend among young people when it comes to news.

“So few young people actually engage in news. And one of the reasons we decided to do it here at UAS is simply, as a former reporter — excuse me, as a reporter who is now teaching also — I can’t believe that students really are not civilly engaged, and so this was an opportunity to help them,” she said. 

Alexander invited former CNN producer Chuck Thompson, who’s originally from Juneau, to lead a discussion on the future of news media.

Thompson connected with Peter Bale, the launch editor of a new news project called WikiTribune led by the founder of Wikipedia. 

Bale spoke to the lecture hall full of students by video conference from London.

WikiTribune aims to fix problems like fake news and distrust of media by allowing users to fact-check news articles along with professional journalists. It is expected to launch later this year.

Students grilled him on the wisdom of allowing news articles to be annotated by members of the public and asked him how he would ensure objectivity in reporting.

Taylor Hrupek, an exchange student from the University of South Dakota studying communications, said it was exciting to hear about WikiTribune’s plan.

“This will probably end up being a pretty big deal on some worldwide spectrum, so it’s cool to see, like, we’re in the town of Juneau, Alaska, and we’re getting a front row seat to what’s going on in the world,” Hrupek said. 

Alexander said News Engagement Day is just the beginning of a larger effort to increase media literacy at UAS.

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