March 9, 2020

PBS NewsHour Weekend anchor Hari Sreenivasan and the PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs will become ambassadors of Poynter’s MediaWise project, teaching young people to tell fact from fiction online.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (Mar. 9, 2020) – The Poynter Institute announces a partnership with its digital literacy program, MediaWise, and PBS NewsHour. In a time when the spread of misinformation online is rampant, MediaWise and its partners aim to teach young people how to debunk misinformation online. 

Hari Sreenivasan, “PBS NewsHour Weekendanchor and “Amanpour and Company contributor, will join MediaWise as an ambassador. Sreenivasan is also a senior correspondent for “PBS NewsHour and host of the national public television series “SciTech Now and forthcoming digital series “The Fake Out,” which offers tips and tricks on how to identify misinformation in the news and online. He becomes the fourth national journalist to contribute to the MediaWise project as ambassador, alongside Lester Holt and Savannah Sellers of NBC News and Peter Hamby of Snapchat and Vanity Fair. 

“Sharing reliable facts has become increasingly difficult. Having a fourth estate a reader can trust is crucial to a functioning democracy,” Sreenivasan said. “We all practice small acts of journalism every day when we share what we think is a fact with a friend or family member, so it is incumbent on all of us to be able to discern truth from fiction. I’m excited to play a small part in MediaWise’s crucial endeavor.”

Also joining as a MediaWise Ambassador is the PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs (SRL). SRL inspires young people to find their voices and engage with their communities by using journalism to create transformative educational experiences. SRL has participation from more than 150 schools across 46 states and reaches 3,000 students each year. 

“SRL teaches young people how media and journalism shapes their lives, and in turn gives them a way to make sense of the world around them through storytelling,” said Elis Estrada, senior director for SRL. “Creating more opportunities for student voice can inspire young people to become civically engaged and savvy consumers of news and information. That’s why we’re so excited to work with MediaWise and provide teens with relevant resources that will empower them now and in the future.”

On March 5, Sreenivasan joined an SRL Student Journalist of the Year, University of Cincinnati sophomore Mary Williams, high school senior Bailey Childress from Elizabethtown, Kentucky and MediaWise senior multimedia reporter Alex Mahadavan to teach 200 high school students fact-checking skills during a youth civic engagement summit in New York City hosted by WNET, America’s flagship PBS station. The summit is an annual convening of the Youth Collective, a WNET media and education initiative that amplifies youth voice and promotes discussion about ethical issues.

The team of four worked together to teach students how to find reliable information online as well as key skills for consuming social content this election cycle like how to spot a bot and the rising concerns around deepfake and manipulated videos. They also taught the audience of high school students, many of whom will be eligible to vote in November, fact-checking skills like reverse image search and how to determine if social posts are fake or fabricated.

Their participation in the summit was part of the MediaWise Voter Project (#MVP) which aims to reach two million American college students, teaching them to be prepared and better informed as they get ready to vote for the first time in the 2020 election. The project is funded by Facebook. It will produce a video-based first-time voter guide, in-person training sessions led by a network of Campus Correspondents and MediaWise Ambassadors and an awareness campaign that will culminate in a bus tour in October. 

The #MVP program is an expansion of MediaWise, created with funding from as part of the Google News Initiative (GNI) and 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 workplaces 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,, 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 information literacy project for young people. Collectively, this work builds public awareness about journalism, media, the First Amendment and discourse that serves democracy and the public good.


About WNET

WNET is America’s flagship PBS station: parent company of New York’s THIRTEEN and WLIW21 and operator of NJTV, the statewide public media network in New Jersey. Through its new ALL ARTS multi-platform initiative, its broadcast channels, three cable services (THIRTEEN PBSKids, Create and World) and online streaming sites, WNET brings quality arts, education and public affairs programming to more than five million viewers each month. WNET produces and presents a wide range of acclaimed PBS series, including Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, PBS NewsHour Weekend, and the nightly interview program Amanpour and Company. In addition, WNET produces numerous documentaries, children’s programs, and local news and cultural offerings, as well as multi-platform initiatives addressing poverty and climate. Through THIRTEEN Passport and WLIW Passport, station members can stream new and archival THIRTEEN, WLIW and PBS programming anytime, anywhere.


About PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs

Student Reporting Labs (SRL) creates transformative educational experiences through video journalism that inspire youth to find their voice and engage with their communities. We envision building the next generation of informed media creators and consumers and believe that thoughtful, well-grounded local reporting and the interdisciplinary work of video production are powerful forms of learning and civic engagement.  Over 150 schools across 46 states and the District of Columbia participate, reaching 3,000 students yearly. SRL lesson plans, assignment prompts and instruction tools facilitate project-based learning that builds critical thinking, problem-solving, teamwork, and communication skills. Over the last decade, SRL has helped student journalists place dozens of news reports on the PBS NewsHour’s nightly broadcast and more on local media outlets. Visit to learn more.



Mel Grau
The Poynter Institute

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