Penn State Harrisburg professors awarded News Literacy Grants

Funds will support projects aimed at promoting 'news over noise'
Graphic of a cell phone with the words news and a check mark on it
Credit: Sharon Siegfried

MIDDLETOWN, Pa. – Four Penn State Harrisburg professors have been awarded grants for projects related to news literacy as part of a pilot program through Penn State’s Bellisario College of Communications.

The Bellisario College's News Literacy Initiative is sponsoring a Commonwealth Campus grant with Penn State Harrisburg as the pilot site. The schools of Humanities and Public Affairs and the Madlyn Hanes Library are sponsoring this grant program at the college.

"These news literacy grants promote the goals of the Bellisario College's news literacy program, including ensuring that 'Penn State students graduate with an appreciation of the function and importance of news and are able to critically seek, assess and use news and current information as participants in a democracy,’” said Jeffrey Beck, director of the School of Humanities. “We thank the Bellisario College of Communications, especially Dean Marie Hardin, for this support of news literacy at Penn State Harrisburg."

Grants were awarded as follows:

Eric Best, assistant professor of homeland security and public policy, and Dan Mallinson, assistant professor of public policy and administration, both with the School of Public Affairs, were awarded $7,000 for “News and Numeracy: Improving Understanding of Quantitative News and Journalism.”

Their project will focus on numeracy by training students to understand quantitative news pieces and data journalism, through activities including integrated lesson planning across multiple courses, library engagement and a lecture series.

Nakho Kim, assistant professor of communications with the School of Humanities, was awarded $6,000 for “Local News Literacy: Dashboard to Detect Gaps in Local News Agenda.”

Kim plans to develop a dashboard tool to draw communication data from diverse sources and visualize the local news agenda, highlighting gaps.

Kimberly Schreck, professor of psychology with the School of Behavioral Sciences and Education, was awarded $7,000 for “Mixed Messages in the News: Choose the Best and Mute the Rest (the Sequel).”

Schreck will replicate and extend a previous study that evaluated news transcripts and found that news networks often reported and sometimes implicitly recommended pseudoscientific and sometimes harmful treatments for autistic individuals.

The grants run through December 2023. More information on the grant program can be found here.