The Poynter Institute announces investment from Facebook to expand MediaWise digital information literacy program to first-time voters

January 22, 2020

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (Jan. 22, 2020) – The Poynter Institute announces it has received funding from Facebook to launch a national media literacy program called the MediaWise Voter Project (#MVP). The program’s goal is to reach 2 million American college students, teaching them to be prepared and better informed as they vote for the first time in the 2020 election.

“Poynter is dedicated to elevating fact-based expression so that everyone can actively and confidently participate in our democracy,” said Neil Brown, the president of the Poynter Institute. “Facebook’s investment in this initiative will help first-time voters have access to independent, non-partisan and credible information so that they can make the most of their new civic responsibility.”

The MediaWise Voter Project builds on the momentum created by Poynter’s digital literacy project for teens called MediaWise — which teaches middle and high school students how to identify factual information, put posts in context and avoid sharing misinformation in their social media feeds.

Components of the MediaWise Voter Project include:

A FIRST-TIME VOTER GUIDE
With an emphasis on improving media literacy, Poynter will develop a first-time voter guide through a “how to” social content series that will cover everything from voter registration to spotting misinformation. Students will learn to be discerning consumers of digital information. The project will reach first-time voters primarily through social media outreach, focusing on the platforms most commonly used by 18-25 year olds.

IN-PERSON TRAINING
Poynter’s #MVP team will host a series of bootcamp-style media literacy trainings at college campuses nationwide as well as other places where young people gather. This fall, as Election Day approaches, the MVP project will build up to a multi-campus bus tour where Campus Correspondents and MVP staffers will teach media and voter literacy at college football tailgates. The project will focus on helping young voters understand how to spot misinformation on subjects important to their tastes and interests. Topics will include climate change, school shootings, student loan debt, gun safety and LGBTQ issues in a voice that resonates with the target audience.

AN AWARENESS CAMPAIGN
Poynter will work with a network of college campus correspondents, press, social media influencers and national celebrities to create and spread awareness of the MediaWise Voter Guide. The network will create original video content to support the project.

“Helping to stop the spread of misinformation is an important part of our work to help protect elections but we know we can’t do it alone. This new first-time voter media literacy education program will reach millions of teens and young adults as they head to the polls. We value Poynter’s commitment and dedication to help give people the tools they need to make informed decisions,” said Katie Harbath, Public Policy Director, Global Elections at Facebook.

Poynter is a leading instructor and convener in the journalism industry and a practitioner of accountability journalism through its International Fact-Checking Network and the Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact. The Craig Newmark Center for Ethics and Leadership at Poynter works with media organizations and citizens to establish modern ethical policies and best practices.

“In line with all of Poynter’s work, the MediaWise Voter Project will be nonpartisan,” said Katy Byron editor and program manager of Poynter’s MediaWise franchise. “This initiative seeks to educate students across the political spectrum and arm them with the tools they need to find accurate and reliable information about the election. We want young voters to be confident that they made their voting decisions based on fact and not fiction,” Byron said.

Poynter will once again partner with Complexly, the production company of John Green, a MediaWise ambassador and the host of the MediaWise Navigating Digital Information Crash Course on YouTube. Complexly will produce the MVP Voter Guide. Additional partners of the MediaWise Voter Project will include Students Learn Students Vote (SLSV) and the Campus Vote Project.

The MediaWise Voter Project will kick-off with events on college campuses in January. The first event is scheduled for Friday, Jan. 24 hosted at the University of Iowa where the MediaWise team will train hundreds of students with the help of its first 2020 MediaWise Ambassador, influencer Tyler Oakley. The following week there will be another training at the University of New Hampshire on Friday, Jan. 31. Both events are in advance of the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary so that the first-time voters are prepared to participate.

MediaWise was created with funding from Google.org and is comprised of four major components: a teen fact-checking network, workshops at schools across the nation, a MediaWise Ambassador program and an open-source digital literacy curriculum by the Stanford University History Education Group (SHEG).

About The Poynter Institute
The Poynter Institute for Media Studies is a global leader in journalism education and a strategy center that stands for uncompromising excellence in journalism, media and 21st-century public discourse. Poynter faculty teach seminars and workshops at the Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida, and at conferences and organizations around the world. Its e-learning division, News University, offers the world’s largest online journalism curriculum, with hundreds of interactive courses and tens of thousands of registered international users. The Institute’s website, poynter.org, produces 24-hour coverage about media, ethics, technology and the business of news. Poynter is the home of the Craig Newmark Center for Ethics and Leadership, the Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact, the International Fact-Checking Network and MediaWise, a teen digital information literacy project. Collectively, this work builds public awareness about journalism, media, the First Amendment and discourse that serves democracy and the public good.

About MediaWise
MediaWise is a digital information literacy initiative led by the Poynter Institute in partnership with the Stanford University History Education Group (SHEG), the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) and the Local Media Association (LMA) and funded by Google.org (2018-2020). The goal of MediaWise was to teach 1 million American teenagers to tell fact from fiction online with half coming from underserved or low-income communities. Today, the work of MediaWise has been seen by more than 5 million viewers and counting. The MediaWise program consists of four pillars: a SHEG curriculum; in-person training events hosted at schools nationwide; a teen fact-checking network; and a MediaWise ambassador program.

Per Poynter’s Ethics Policy, funders do not influence program curriculum or content.

Contact:

Tina Dyakon
Director of Marketing
The Poynter Institute
tdyakon@poynter.org
727-553-4343