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National News Literacy Week kicks off amid changing media industry

The E.W. Scripps Co. is partnering with the News Literacy Project to ensure the public has the skills to be informed and participate in a democracy.
Posted at 1:19 PM, Jan 22, 2024

As more Americans rely on social media for news, this year's National News Literacy Week is focusing on responsible sharing. 

"We used to focus on kids. We used to focus on eighth graders and seventh graders in ensuring that they came out of school with the tools necessary in order to be savvy media consumers," said Adam Symson, CEO of the E.W. Scripps Company, which is the parent company of Scripps News. "And what we've recognized is this is not an issue that the young people face; it's an issue that all of us face."

The E.W. Scripps Company is partnering with the News Literacy Project, a nonprofit organization, to ensure the public has the skills to be informed and participate in a democracy. 

The media industry is constantly changing. In fact, local stations owned by the E.W. Scripps Company have undergone major changes recently, notably removing some live broadcasts in local markets. 

Symson responded to criticism that the move may take resources away from being able to respond to local news events. 

"The move we've made in order to prioritize newsgathering reporting over what I would sort of characterize as the performative aspects of our business is actually completely in line with our dedication to ensure that we're covering our communities better," Symson said. 

He said he believes deprioritizing the "performative" aspects of the business, such as the use of TV presenters or news anchors, allows TV stations to get closer to their communities. 

"Reallocating resources so that we make sure that we're properly covering the geographic and demographic communities in which we operate is very, very consistent with the mission," he said. 

Symson added, "There's nothing to say that watching a news broadcast that is live is actually presenting to you information more relevant to your life than a more well-produced, well-reported telecast that is focused on covering the communities better."

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There are fewer guardrails in place to counter false narratives, and the tools and networks that help spread misinformation are getting more robust.


While this approach may be different from other TV companies in local markets, Symson said he's not too concerned with what they are doing. 

"We still have the ability to be live and cover breaking news if we need to. We expect to always be there for the breaking news stories, the severe weather, the things that people rely on us for, but we want to prioritize storytelling; we want to prioritize making sure we have enough resources to cover the entire geography of a market," he said. 

Symson insists that the reason people are losing trust in news is because media outlets are not doing a good job of investing in consistent media coverage in local communities. 

"Reallocating resources into our markets so that we have more news gatherers, more journalists in the field covering those communities all the time — not just when there's sort of a disaster, but all the time — we think will benefit us in the long run," Symson said. 

National News Literacy Week is an annual project for the E.W. Scripps Company. Symson says he believes the campaign will generate more savvy news consumers, which benefits the entire nation. 

"I think Americans want a healthy democracy. I have a lot of faith in the American people. I have a lot of faith in our system of government," Symson said. "And though we live in this incredibly polarized world, I expect us to rise above it eventually and ensure that this democracy lives on and that we do so in a way that that citizens remain engaged in the decision-making process."