Monday, October 19, 2009

Marquette Students Tour the "Information Neighborhood"

Tomorrow afternoon, Trib columnist Clarence Page will visit Marquette Elementary to talk with middle schoolers about the news business and why news is important. About 150 6th-graders have been gearing up for the visit by studying a curriculum developed by the News Literacy Project. Last week Chicago coordinator Peter Adams told me about one of their activities--exploring the "information neighborhoods" in a newspaper--page one, metro, sports, advertising inserts. "We go through and talk about who produced this, what its goal is, things like that," to better understand the relationship between advertisers, reporters and the paper as a whole.

Last Friday students examined digital and viral media hoaxes to learn more about what a reliable source is. I know firsthand the worth of activities like this. Back in 2006, my neighbor Daniel, then 12 years old, stopped me on the street and said, "Mark Ecko tagged Air Force One."

"What?" I responded, shocked.

"Yeah, he tagged it. It's on You Tube," Daniel told me. So we went in my house and watched the video. (You can see it here.) It was so well done it had me going for a minute. Then we looked for reliable news stories about his feat and quickly discovered it was a very clever fake--he rented a Boeing jet and painted it to look like Air Force One. According to Ecko's own website, the fake was so good it had the military double-checking whether anyone had been on the runway to shoot it.

If people like me, who've worked in news, and even the Pentagon are doing double-takes at a video hoax, how is a 12-year-old supposed to know it's not true? That's what the News Literacy Project hopes to teach--the skills to separate the fact from the fiction, opinion and advertising that dominate the media landscape, especially in new media. It's great work, and more Chicago schools are looking to get on board in 2010. For more about the News LIteracy Project and tomorrow's event, check out this article on the LISC/Chicago website.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Life After 2016

Well, Chicagoans, by now you know we didn't get the bid. But take heart, we've made a splash on the world stage and we're still a great city to come and visit, or to be a tourist in your own town. Mark you calendars for October 10, when the Burnham Plan Centennial will sponsor a new round of community showcase tours.

Our friend Mandy Burrell Booth at Metropolitan Planning Commission put it well, writing in a Facebook status update: "It's time to move on. The Olympics were just one opportunity of many to reinvest in Chicago neighborhoods that are ripe for redevelopment." You can see her take on the neighborhoods here.

On Worldview today, Jerome McDonnell asked, "Does Chicago need a Carnival to spice things up?" But I think we're plenty spicy as it is. This weekend I expect to visit the Little VIllage Arts Fest and stop by Delicias Mexicanas for a Mexican hot dog--with bacon. Mmmm...bacon...mmmm....Gotta love the Hog Butcher to the World, whether or not the IOC loved us enough this time.