Centennial Events

Day of Service with News Literacy Project

This event occurred on Monday, April 30

When Joseph Pulitzer first envisioned a great school of journalism at Columbia, he had many ideas for the roles the school and its alumni might play in building a better future. One of his chief priorities was that the school be accessible to a wide range of students.

The J-School has been true to Pulitzer’s mission for a hundred years, offering scholarships and making it possible for promising young journalists to become part of the Columbia community. And so it was always clear that, in addition to celebrating alumni and advancing the conversation about journalism, the J-School’s centennial would also include a service component.

To fulfill this special duty and carry on its longstanding commitment to the diverse communities in and around Morningside Heights, the J-School has partnered with the News Literacy Project to educate local children in media literacy and the importance of a free, vibrant press. The News Literacy Project is an expanding national program that connects professional journalists to classrooms, particularly in low-income school districts, with an innovative curriculum designed to inspire interest and awareness of journalism.

On April 30, four Columbia student volunteers – Mollie Bloudoff-Indelicato, Carla Bleiker, Rose De’Souza and Chris Mascaro – headed up the inaugural afternoon of service in the freshly-christened Pulitzer Hall, bringing their experience and the News Literacy Project curriculum to 26 middle-schoolers from Manhattan’s De Le Salle Academy. The afternoon began with a lively discussion of where the students turn for reliable information (answers ranged from the New York Times and Newsweek to the Huffington Post and Google News), and what techniques and skills lead to mastery of the art of the interview. Then, the J-School volunteers staged a mock press conference, the middle-schoolers charged with constructing a news story from a virtual police chief inclined not to divulge any unsolicited information.

Students from De Le Salle Academy discuss news sources and interview techniques with Columbia Journalism School volunteers. Photo/Jesse Adams.

After the press conference, the De La Salle students enjoyed snacks and took a tour of the J-School’s most storied places, including the Joseph Pulitzer World Room and the television studio. The middle-schoolers left with knowledge they will bring to future projects, including a multimedia project 13 of the students are completing as part of their work with the News Literacy Project.

In months to come, the J-School will continue to work with the News Literacy Project, and hope to broaden its reach to help alumni connect with other young students in their local communities. It would be a fitting capstone to the school’s centennial were some young participants, inspired by J-Schoolers, someday enter Pulitzer Hall as journalism students.