Partner Spotlight: NexGen News

When did your organization launch and why?

The idea for NexGen News was born in a 5th grade classroom in 2020. When I was in elementary school, current events education consisted of cutting a clipping out of a newspaper and summarizing it in front of the class. About 15 years later, as a 5th grade teacher, I had a difficult time finding age-appropriate news sources that were actually engaging for students. Adult newscasts were dry and inappropriate. Written news articles for students didn’t grab student attention and interest. I thought to myself: If I’m teaching the next generation of learners and leaders, don’t they deserve their own news source to stay informed about the world around them? Doesn’t teaching media literacy need to be a focus in this social media world? Don’t we as educators need to meet the demands of future generations for the good of society? It was clear there was a large gap between the education that students will need to be successful in the future, versus the education that they were receiving in the present. I believed that if done in a way that engages students, current events education could help bridge that gap.

What does your organization do? What are its main goals? Main projects?

Created by educators for educators, NexGen News brings news to young people, presented by young people, and provides teachers the educational tools to have students think critically about current events. The core product is a biweekly video newscast that is presented by child actors that keeps students engaged and informed about the world around them. We partner with Reuters to source all of the news stories and media assets, and then cater the content to a younger audience. Each story in the newscast is accompanied by a ready-made curriculum that is available on NexGen News’ online learning management platform. The curriculum includes standards-based lesson plans for grades 3-5 and 6-8, leveled news articles, quizzes, writing prompts, discussion questions, and student activities. As of April 2022, NexGen News had a library of over 145 videos and curriculum sets, with 8 more added each month. By combining engaging video newscasts and ready-made curriculum, NexGen News is here to revolutionize current events education in the classroom.

What makes your organization stand out? What would you say is the most unique thing about your organization?

What makes NexGen News unique is that it was founded by two 5th grade teachers. With over 22 years of combined classroom and curriculum experience, founders Laura Segre and Dr. Michelle McGuire understand what students and teachers need, and how to best deliver it to them. Teachers need a ready-made media literacy and current events curriculum, and creating engaging video newscasts is the best way to deliver the content and motivate students. Only when students are motivated by the content, can they become critical thinkers.

What are recent projects or new resources that your organization would like to share with other NAMLE members?

As a new educational product, NexGen News is offering free access to teachers and schools until June 30, 2022. Please fill out this form if you or your school is interested!

What are the connections between the work of your organization and media literacy?

NexGen News is created for young people, and presented by young people. By focusing on the student audience, we break down barriers to media literacy. While being able to decipher adult news sources is certainly a skill in itself, we believe that students should have their own news source that caters to them. NexGen News uses a video format to engage the next generation in the world around them, and presents content in an age-appropriate way for grades 3-8. This format allows students to access the news easier than ever before.

Why is media literacy important to your organization?

As we look to educate future generations, we must acknowledge that our world is evolving very rapidly. We are living in the age of social media, and information is more readily available than ever before. Yet media literacy is not addressed in most state standards. To prepare students for the future, they must stay informed about current events. We must foster students that think critically and are media literate. The future of society depends on it. It’s not an easy problem to fix, but NexGen News is here to contribute!

Anything else you want our readers to know about your organization, your mission, or your staff?

Our vision is to foster a media literate future generation of critical thinkers that are civically and socially active and contribute to society. To accomplish this vision, our mission is to keep the next generation informed about the world around them through a newscast presented by young people. To accompany the newscast we provide educators and families with the tools to have students think critically about current events.

The views and opinions expressed in the Organizational Spotlight blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of NAMLE or its members. The purpose of the Organizational Spotlight blog is to highlight our Organizational Partners and give them a place to share their reflections, opinions, and ideas.