Friday, February 28, 2014

The real story behind the FCC’s study of newsrooms

(This opinion piece by Lewis Friedland, Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, originally appeared in the Washington Post on Friday, February 28, 2014.  We repost it in full here with the permission of the author.)
Sometimes research takes on a life of its own and becomes more like a Rorschach test for a national policy controversy. That’s what’s happened to a review of the literature on the critical information needs of American communities that I and colleagues from around the country conducted for the Federal Communications Commission in July 2012. The recommendations of the review informed a proposed pilot study in Columbia, S.C., of what, if any, critical information needs citizens have and whether they are being met in our rapidly changing media environment.
To conservative media from Fox News to Rush Limbaugh, this was an attempt to reintroduce the now-lapsed Fairness Doctrine and for President Obama to take control of America’s newsrooms. Other former journalists and media critics apparently agreed. Still others took a more nuanced view – that this may not have been a government plot, but that it would be a waste of money, because either we already know what these needs are, or, there aren’t any, or if there are, we can’t know what they are.
In the end, the underlying theme was: we already know the answers. Americans either have no needs or none that the market is not meeting or can’t meet. Don’t do research. Don’t ask these questions.
Almost all of the critics (save one) didn’t appear to have actually read the original review or proposed study. The FCC called for the literature review because in a rapidly changing information environment it wanted (and was mandated to) understand whether Americans have critical information needs, if so what are they, and how would policymakers and the public know whether they are being met.
As most Monkey Cage readers know, the literature review is one of the most basic procedures in the social sciences. If you want to understand a problem (or even whether there is a problem), you gather all of the existing evidence, review it, identify the most important issues, and then, if warranted, suggest further research. And that’s what we did. We identified about 1,000 peer-reviewed articles in political science, communication, economics, sociology, urban studies, health, education and other fields that might bear on the concept of critical information, winnowed these to 500, reviewed each and reported on them. Our review built on previous studies conducted by the FCC and the Knight Commission on the information needs of communities.
We also outlined a plan for additional research, including studies of whole communities to see whether the needs we found in the areas of risk communication, health, education, the environment, economic development, civic, and local political information were being met or not. Our report was presented and peer-reviewed by scholars at the FCC in July 2012. The full review and bibliography was published on the FCC web site for anyone to see. The FCC then funded Social Solutions Inc. to pull together scholars from multiple disciplines to discuss how to conduct a limited study of whether critical information needs were being met in local media ecologies. (I participated in that research design meeting). SSI proposed a research design based upon that meeting and the criteria set out by the FCC. Largely because of limited funding, the FCC reduced that research to a small pilot study in Columbia, S.C., to see if such a study was viable.
The proposed pilot had three parts. To find out whether community information needs did exist and to what degree, surveys, interviews and focus groups would be carried out, drawn from a broad cross-section of the public. A content analysis of newspapers, broadcast, and Internet outlets would determine whether the information being provided matched people’s expressed needs and how well.  Finally, a third component would conduct a “media market census” to “determine whether and how FCC-regulated and related media construct news and public affairs to determine” critical information needs. One aspect of this was a voluntary questionnaire to newsroom decision-makers about their own perceptions of those needs.
This last component became the spark that set off the firestorm. When the National Association of Broadcasters came out in opposition to the proposed pilot test, they focused on the voluntary questions of newsroom decision-makers. Republican members of the House of Representatives used much of the same language as the NAB in writing to the FCC, and much of this was repeated by FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai (a Republican appointed by President Obama) in his editorial in the Wall Street Journal.
Examining the relation of news standards to news content is a staple of communication research, going back at least  60 years. There have been dozens if not hundreds of studies since then. That said, it was probably a mistake to include one in this study, only because FCC sponsorship could (and might) raise the appearance of a possible conflict. Accordingly, the FCC recently dropped that portion of the study while deciding how to proceed. This was a good and responsible decision, because it clears away the red herring of government control of newsrooms and allows us to focus on the real question: whether the information needs of Americans are being met.
In much of the 20th century, Americans received the information that they depended on through newspapers. The decline of newspapers as economic institutions is now a truism. But whether the information they provided is no longer needed, or is being provided by some alternative source (usually asserted to be the Internet) is not clear. In a 2011 quantitative study of local news provision in 100 markets Matthew Hindman found that there is only a trickle of local news on the Web, and most of this is simply repackaged from newspapers or broadcast. He concluded that while there may be some consumer substitution between online and traditional news sources for national or commodity news, this is not true for local news (an error made by Joe Uscinski in his earlier post in this space).
Why does this matter? Because more and more of the basic institutional needs of Americans depend on local information markets. For example, local school systems are rapidly expanding school choice and charter schools. When newspapers had robust education beats, they might regularly (or at least annually) report on the quality of specific local schools, providing parents at least some chance to receive good information about where to send their children. But as education reporting declines, there is no evidence that the Internet is taking its place. For several years, one of the highest-achieving charter schools in Washington, D.C., had trouble meeting its enrollment quotas, suggesting that a robust information market in the capital does not exist.
Of course, this is an anecdote, and that’s precisely the point. There is much about community information needs that we just don’t know. And the only way to know more is through high quality research. That’s exactly what the FCC is trying to do before making critical decisions on newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership that could further reduce the production of local community information, or allowing the expansion of  national cable concentration and greater control of local broadband markets that, for most Americans, are poorly performing, overpriced duopolies. To fail to even ask the questions would be an abnegation of its responsibility to the public interest.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Controversy over "critical information" for individuals and communities

On Monday my "show and tell" involved an unfolding media issue connected to the School of Journalism & Mass Communication where I serve as Director.  I thought some of you might appreciate more information on that issue, since it relates so well to our own class discussions of media literacy and digital divides.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Information, journalism, academia, and the market

Today at Inside Higher Ed, our own Professor Jonathan Senchyne writes about his experience at the New York Times shortly after one of that paper's most prominent columnists laments the alleged passing of the "public intellectual" (or civically-engaged academic knowledge worker).  From Senchyne's piece:
In September 2013, I attended The New York Times Schools for Tomorrow Conference (theme: "Virtual U: The Coming Age of Online Education") held at the conference center of the Times’s new building (video archive streaming here).
What I learned there -- besides how weird corporate-sponsored conferences are, right down to commercials they looped on screens between talks -- is that there is a system of content generation that feeds thinkpieces and thinkfluencers with greater speed and sound bite concision than most professors can offer.
It’s important to note that the only professors on stage at this conference on the future of higher education had left teaching and research as faculty for academic upper administration or to launch their own MOOC companies. While Kristof might see this lack of platform as more evidence of academic self-cloistering, I see it for the closed system that it is: “influence” comes mainly from those who might be in the position to take out full-page ads in the Times.
Read the rest of the piece here.  It's worth it.

The Means of Production

“The Means of Production”, subtitled “Literacy and Stratification in the Twenty First Century” is one chapter in a book called Literacy in American Lives, written by Deb Grant and published in 2001.  The book itself, according to the publisher’s website, “traces the changing conditions of literacy learning over the past century as they were felt in the lives of ordinary Americans born between 1895 and 1985”.  In this particular chapter, Grant examines the way in which social and economic status affects the level of literacy an individual can achieve, but more importantly to the chapter’s argument, she discusses what kinds of literacy are approved of and supported in our economy and which types of literacy are devalued.

Grant’s primary argument is that our society today – or at least our society in the time of the book’s publishing – places a heavy emphasis on technological literacy.  This is the case, she argues, because we are now part of the “Information Age” or a “knowledge economy”.  Her claim is that “as profits have come to depend on making or moving information more quickly, more cheaply, more powerfully or more meaningfully, investment in literacy-based instruments has surged” (171).  Having literacy – the right literacy – becomes a huge economic and social benefit because it is valued not only as an input into economic production, but also as an output.  It is important and valuable at so many points in the production process.   Her continuing argument is that because we live in a world where the economic production process is focused on one particular kind of literacy, there is very little socioeconomic support for those who do not learn (or have difficulty learning it) or value that literacy.  Additionally, she argues that schools should therefore make an effort to “democratize literacy” (186), both by supporting students’ quests for literacies that do not necessarily mirror the greater economic values, and also by providing them with more equal access to the ones that do.

She makes this argument in a very interesting way, by comparing the self-motivated attempts at literacy of two individuals, one from a middle-class family (Raymond Branch) and one from a lower-class family (Dora Lopez).  They were both born in 1969, and both eventually moved with their families to an unnamed university town in Wisconsin.  Her comparison of them focuses primarily on what kinds of literacy they pursue, because it is not the same type.  Branch sought to teach himself about computers and programming, while Lopez, whose family spoke English at home despite being migrant workers, taught herself Spanish.  As Brant illustrates the differences between their quests for literacy, she points out how Branch’s path to literacy was both easier and in the end, more rewarding economically than Lopez.  She calls this imbalance “unequal subsidy and unequal reward”.  Because the knowledge that Lopez seeks to gain is less valuable to the overall economic machine, not only is her reward for gaining it less, but the avenues by which she can gain it are also less.   Branch, in his quest for technological literacy, has many resources – Brant cites computer stores, access to a community of other individuals interested in technology and also the university’s resources, since his father was a part of the faculty.  Lopez had far fewer of these things.

The chapter also looks at the already unequal opportunities that Branch and Lopez had in gaining access and knowledge of the kind of literacy supported by the economic machine, such as their parents’ ability to provide them with the necessary tools.  Both Branch and Lopez’s fathers worked for the university, and yet Lopez’s father, who worked as a shipping and receiving clerk, was not provided with the technology that Branch’s father was, because his job was less valued, and therefore was not able to pass along those tools to his daughter.

Overall, this is an interesting article because it does not merely argue that those who are poor (in money or in literacy) will remain poor because they do not have access to the appropriate tools.  It argues that our concept of “the appropriate tools” ought to be looked at with a little more scrutiny.

Brant, Deb. "Literacy in American Lives." The Means of Production: Literacy and Stratification in the Twentieth Century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001. 169-186. Print.

Newspaper Subsidies

One of Week Six’s readings, “Informing Communities: Sustaining Democracy in the Digital Age: The Report of the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities,” focused on people’s local information needs and identified three objectives, with one being, “Maximizing the availability of relevant and credible information to communities” (XIII).

While this report quips that “there need be no second-class citizens in the democratic communities of the digital age,” (IV) it paradoxically acknowledges that, “Some populations… are unserved or are woefully underserved” by quality, local news sources. It is quite true that some municipalities do not have good access to local news, including Fitchburg, Wisconsin.

Fitchburg’s print newspaper, The Fitchburg Star, ceased publication in 2009, but did retain an online presence. Apparently, however, this online medium did not fulfill the community’s information need, and was even recognized by the city. In February 2014, the city government announced that it would pay for copies of The Fitchburg Star to be mailed to nearly 13,000 homes and businesses—the entire city. This resurrected newspaper will only have ten issues, one for each month from March-December 2014, and will cost Fitchburg over $30,000. The hope is that this direct public funding will help launch the Star into a subscription model, that the newspaper will become self-sustaining, and that the newspaper will become a weekly publication.

For this type of public-private partnership, one may question the ability of the newspaper to be impartial, and not just a voice-piece for the city, as journalistic integrity would dictate. While Mayor Shawn Pfaff and City Administrator Tony Roach of Fitchburg maintain that the Star will have editorial control, there were two items in a Wisconsin State Journal article that make this endeavor problematic:

“In a draft memo of understanding set to be discussed Feb. 25 the City Council, the two parties would agree to meet quarterly and ‘review content, costs and supporting sales.’”

“Enstad [general manager of Unified Newspaper Group, which runs The Fitchburg Star] said the Star won’t endorse candidates but may occasionally take stands on municipal issues.”

            The above statements are troubling because it means that the content of the newspaper will be affected. If a newspaper is intentionally avoiding candidate endorsements, is only “occasionally” taking stands on municipal issues, and will be routinely meeting with the city to discuss “content,” then the corporate personhood of that publication has been irrevocably diminished. In effect, the news that Fitchburg is paying to distribute—under the guise of good-will towards the establishment of a well-informed citizenry—will seemingly always have a pro-government slant, at least as long as the city is holding the purse strings.

            Though access to information is deemed inherently good, one must have the necessary literacies to assess, analyze, and understand the underlying conditions that are embodied in that text. For the people of Fitchburg, another layer has been added to that challenge. Publicly-supported media is not new, and there are excellent exemplars like the Public Broadcasting System and National Public Radio, but in this particular instance, the city of Fitchburg is too involved.

While this is one isolated case, more public-private newspaper partnerships may be on the horizon. A quick database search returned literature on subsidies, including a piece by Brad A. Greenberg, who at the time of writing was a J.D. Candidate at the UCLA School of Law. Greenberg believed that a mixture of direct- and indirect-subsidies by the public sector will save the newspaper industry. He writes:

“If Congress chooses to aid the press by providing subsidies to newspapers, the best manner would be a hybrid of direct funding and tax-based incentives, centered around a national public newspaper and local partnering newspapers that would be newly-converted to tax-exempts.” (Greenberg 244)

While Greenberg’s contention is an extreme theoretical model, one that would be the equivalent of a networked “Ministry of Truth” for you Orwellians, it highlights what all people, especially information professionals, need to do: assess, analyze, and understand the underlying conditions and assumptions embodied in information resources.


Erickson, Doug. “A community newspaper returns—with help from CityHall.” Wisconsin State

            Journal. 16 February 2014. Web. 24 February 2014.

Newspaper Industry.” UCLA Entertainment Law Review 19.1 (Winter 2012): 189-244. Web. 24 February 2014.  

The Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy, "Executive
Summary" in Informing Communities: Sustaining Democracy in the Digital Age (2009). 

What do NYC teens do with their cell phones during school during school hours?

In the article, "'May I have your attention?' The consequences of anytime, anywhere technology" I learned that in the NYC public school system, as of 2006, students' cell phones were confiscated at the doors along with knives, razor blades, and marijuana. At my high school we could bring cell phones, iPods, and laptops to school--as long as they stayed stowed away in our lockers and weren't brought to class. I wanted to find out how New York students were dealing with the confiscations, if they were still happening. What did they do after school, when they needed their cell phones to coordinate rides home, picking up siblings, and group projects?

According to an article I found from 2012, this is how: Cell phone "valets" with storage trucks park a short distance away from the school and charge students a small fee to safely store their phones during school hours. Students pay up to $180 a year for this service. It's a lot of money, but perhaps a better option than paying a $15 fine and having their parents come to school to every time their phones are confiscated.

Article w/ video:

S. Craig Watkins, "'May I have your attention?' The consequences of anytime, anywhere technology," in The Young and the Digital (Boston: Beacon Press, 2009), pp. 171-191.

K. Matthews, "Cellphone 'valets' at New York City schools: Students pay to store devices in trucks." Huffington Post: New York (2012). 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Teens and Screens

When pondering the week 6 assignments, the reading I found myself returning to was the S. Craig Watkins excerpt from The Young and the Digital. In the chapter entitled "May I have your attention?," Watkins brings up the intriguing notion of attention deficit trait (ADT). The simple explanation of ADT is that the more inputs and outputs people have, the more irritable and distracted they become. As Watkins connects ADT to the attitudes of students in the classroom, he ends his argument by pointing out that many young people have no sense of boundaries between their leisure and nonleisure areas. Knowing that I will work in a school setting as a teacher-librarian, I often wonder how this erosion of boundaries will affect the next generation of learners, and how I will approach their literacy needs.

In looking up supplemental articles, I came across a story from The Digital Shift website (which is from School Library Journal) called "Teen Conducts Her Own Study on Screen Time's Effect." The piece tells about a 17 year old student named Zarin Rahman, who noticed that continual use of screens for extended periods affected "her mood and school work." Upon this discovery, Ms. Rahman set out to prove some kind of correlation between screen time use and lack of sleep. The article sums up her process: 

"Rahman launched a scientific research project, testing a random group 67 of students between the ages of 13 to 18, comparing their screen time use against sleep depravation (SIC) and stress. She read through literature published on the topics and chose survey subjects who were Internet users, not on medication and with no history of mental disabilities or disorders, she says. Students in the study self reported their sleep time. The findings rang true to what she suspected — that increased recreational screen time had a correlating affect with lack of sleep and stress."

While many will argue the validity of a high school science project, I believe this young lady's insight to be an encouraging sign for her generation. Although she is young, Ms. Rahman has noticed that the way she was approaching technology had an affect on how she behaved. And much like Watkin's piece, Zarin did not completely blame or negate technology, she just used the results to modify her own behaviors. “I now limit my own recreational screen time because I know it has a subsequent affect,” she says.  “Where I maybe spent five to five and a half per day, is now dramatically down to two hours at most.”

L. Barack, "Teen Conducts her Own Study on Screen Time's Effects" from The Digital Shift

S. Craig Watkins, "'May I have your attention?' The consequences of anytime, anywhere technology," in The Young and the Digital (Boston: Beacon Press, 2009), pp. 171-191.

Information Literacy in Wikipedia

As a very representative instance, Wikipedia is a collaboratively edited, multilingual, free Internet encyclopedia supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation. Wikipedia has 30 million articles in 287 languages, including over 4.3 million in the English Wikipedia, are written collaboratively by volunteers around the world. Almost all of its articles can be edited by anyone having access to the site. It is the largest and most popular general reference work on the Internet.
About the evaluation of information from social media like Wikipedia, Besiki Stvilia, Michael B. Twidale, Linda C. Smithand Les Gasser mention that: “Large-scale, continuously evolving, open collaborative content creation systems such as Wikipedia have become increasingly popular. At the same time, in an attempt to lower the bottom line, many traditional publishers and information intensive organizations have opened their content creation processes to the general public by adding wikis and blogs to their regular channels of information creation and distribution. We are witnessing the establishment of a dynamic grid of large-scale, open information systems fueled by active participation from the general public in content creation and quality assurance activities. ” 
In addition, there are two other enlightening scholarly articles discussing about the credibility of Wikipedia and the online behavior of its users' information literacy that written by Naeemah Clark and David C. DeAndrea

Stvilia, Besiki, et al. "Information quality work organization in Wikipedia." Journal of The American Society for Information Science & Technology 59, no. 6 (April 2008): 983-1001, accessed December 20, 2013.
DeAndrea, David C. "Participatory Social Media and the Evaluation of Online Behavior." Human Communication Research 38, no. 4 (October 1, 2012): 510-528, accessed December 20, 2013.
Clark, Naeemah. "Trust Me! Wikipedia's Credibility among College Students." International Journal of Instructional Media 38, no. 1 (March 2011): 27-36, accessed December 20, 2013.

Media Literacy

Principles for a New Media Literacy by Dan Gillmor brought about a new perspective on the media and the need for critical evaluation of the media. I have discussed this topic before, but in the past, discussions I have had (both in the classroom and outside of it) about evaluation of the media have centered mostly around how different people are portrayed in the media based on gender, religion, nationality, etc. Obviously, there are news sources I trust and others I don't, but I had never considered that to be a part of a kind of literacy. However, after reading Principles for a New Media Literacy, I see how this is a topic of extreme importance, and how it can impact our everyday lives. I kept finding myself thinking about social media in particular when it came to thinking about evaluating news and news sources. I think many people, especially many people around my age and younger, rely heavily on social media for news, and whether that is a good thing or not is not as important as how reliable the information people are extracting from these sources is. An article from Huffington Post entitled Social Media Trust, Credibility and Reputation Management discusses this issue, as does Social Media as a Credible News Source from New York Women in Communications. Both articles talk about the importance of trust on media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook, and how important it is to evaluate that trust and understand whether or not the information we receive from these sources is legitimate.

The 4 things modern students must understand

"The 4 Things Modern Students Must Understand" is a brief article posted to Edudemic by Eric Patnoudes on September 19th, 2013.. This is a fitting compliment to Dan Gilmor's "Principles for a New Media Literacy" from this week's readings. Both articles share similar focuses as pointing toward what needs to happen now, and in the future, to produce contributing members of our global society.

Patnoudes points to students needing to be adept at finding information quickly, comprehending what they are reading, organizing the information discovered in a sensible way, and deciding which information will impact their decisions, solve problems, and accomplish their task at hand. Meanwhile, Gilmor points toward the skills needed for media consumption and creation, of which there is is overlap on all of Patnoudes points. Patnoude's furthers his point with what skills are most necessary for students through the inclusion of a 2:41 minute clip of Sugita Mitra discussing future learning.

Do you agree with Panoudes and/or Gilmor? What skills do you think are most relevant to students now, and in the future, regarding information?

UW-Madison's Games Learning Society Program

With regards to the use of technology and its practical use in the classroom, I'd be very disappointed in myself for not mentioning the Games Learning Society program at UW-Madison, part of the School of Curriculum and Instruction. It's a small section of C+I that focuses on gamespaces and how they can teach things to students in a controlled setting.

While it's very true that devices such as smartphones and media players should be regulated in classrooms in order to keep student's attention on the curriculum, it's important to make sure that the students also embrace learning in a space that they feel comfortable in. GLS explores ways to use this new technology in order to teach students through fun, educational environments. They also have done quite a bit of research as to shared game spaces and their impact on one's learning and literacy, both technological and otherwise.

I've taken a few courses through their department (and have been subscribed to their mailing list for a few years), and have always been quite pleased to hear more about their progress.

Ogilvy Notes and the SXSW Interactive Festival

After finishing this week's readings, I went browsing around for material for a supplemental post, intending to find some entertaining videos on teaching information literacy, or something similar. Instead, I stumbled across a few blog posts on the SXSW Interactive Festival and recent presentations that have been given there on information literacy and changes in modern technology. (If, like me, this is the first you're hearing of the SXSW Interactive Festival, you should check them out at their website.) Several links later, and I came upon the real topic of this post; the Ogilvy Notes.

Ogilvy Notes was introduced, according to their website, in order to help SXSW Interactive attendees keep track of what's being talked about at the festival's various events. I'm a little unclear as to how the Notes are created; either they're done by a team of graphic artists at the end of each day of the festival, or they're compiled from submissions from festival attendees. (I'm betting more on the former, but the latter sounds interesting as well.) Regardless of how they're created, the Ogilvy Notes serve as engaging graphical representations of the notes one might take in each session of SXSW Interactive. They're not always completely clear, the same way your lecture notes might not make complete sense to someone who didn't attend the same lecture, but I think they spark some really interesting ideas all the same.

For instance, the following Note is from a 2012 talk by Howard Rheingold called Net Smart: How to Thrive Online.
The Note touches on a number of issues dealing with information literacy, such a critical thinking (here called "crap detection"), and social networking. My favorite part is around the fish, with the quote, "If social media is making us shallow, we need to teach more people to swim." I think that nicely expresses the need to teach information literacy and not just point patrons to a computer and assume they already know what they're doing.

This and other Ogilvy Notes are not as informative as reading the papers that led to the seminars, or even the blog posts of attendees, but they are a really interesting way to supplement that material. They also work nicely in reverse - I spent a half hour or so just browsing through the Notes, trying to figure out the more obscure bits and thinking about what was more clear, trying to answer questions they posed or challenge the generalizations and facts they presented. All in all, I'm glad I found it, and I think it's an interesting way to tap into the conversations of a community I hadn't known existed before.

[Ogilvy Notes. (2012) Net Smart: How to Survive Online. Retrieved from]

Public Libraries and Information Literacy

Information Literacy and Public Libraries, a OCLC WebJunction post by Michele A. Leininger, briefly discusses the public library's role in information literacy pedagogy. She bases her post on the more simplified, deficit-based definition of information literacy pedagogy rather than Jacobs and Berg's "appreciative inquiry" approach. 

Leininger describes the public library's role in information literacy with mostly regarding adults. She argues that since adults' education took place before the internet, gaps and deficits exist in adults' information literacy. The public library is the perfect place to fill these gaps, according to Leininger, because many librarians are already engaging in pedagogy without realizing they are doing so. She also acknowledges the education needs of children and young adults whose library education in public schools is diminished due to budget cuts.

While I enjoyed  Jacob and Berg's article about an appreciative inquiry approach to information literacy and agree with many of their points, it may be unrealistic in some cases. In a public library setting, information literacy education is not always formal. Occasionally it requires the librarian to quickly teach a new skill to a patron, to make up for some "deficit" in their literacy. 

Leininger, Michele A. "Information Literacy and Public Libraries." OCLC WebJunction. OCLC. 21 March 2012. Web. 23 February 2014.

Information Literacy and Public Libraries

"Public Libraries and the Internet." Public Libraries and the Internet. University of Maryland, 2013. Web. 23 Feb. 2014.

For this week's supplement to the reading, I chose a website that directly links information literacy (the topic of our readings) and public libraries. The site is called Public Libraries and the Internet and is run by the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland. What I like about the site is that it supplies a lot of useful information ranging from the definition of information literacy to statistics on computer usage in public libraries. The goal of the website is to provide public librarians a tool to advocate improving information literacy in their libraries. It's a great tool for the working professional, because it's a one stop source of relevant data and statistics. One of the cooler features of the website is that it gives statistics about internet connectivity for each state  (here's the page for Wisconsin). For example, as of 2012 in Wisconsin 65% of libraries offer the only free internet access in their communities. It's information like this that helps librarians show that libraries are working to close the digital divide and offer new suggestions on how to improve what they are doing.

What Tech in School Really Looks Like

This article explains that "...the distribution of technology in our classrooms remains radically uneven. It differs by school and grade level. It differs by region. It differs in the make, model, and operating systems of various computers. It differs in usage." It also differs based on social and economic status of families. She goes on to explain that even some of the schools that do have computers, some have bad internet connections or none at all.  However, children and teens that don't own a computer at home are more likely to have a cell phone.
  "Teens Smartphones and Texting" study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project 
However some schools are reluctant to allow children and teens use them in class.  Others think that it is a great way for children to communicate and learn about world. However allowing children to bring their own technology into school poses some problems. "...that by encouraging students to bring computers from home, institutions will offload the cost of buying technology on parents rather than insisting that the public school should shoulder it. As the demand for and cost of technology increases, it’s certainly a tempting option for many school districts." Allowing children to bring their own technology to school can also lead to other problems. Is all technology appropriate for school? Is it fair that some children and teens have better access to technology at school than others? On the other hand it is hard for school to keep up to date on the newest technology and maintain them. 
It think this article sheds some light on a few issues discussed in some of our readings. It deals with media literacy as well as issues of allowing students to have technology in classrooms. Library School Journal also has several other articles on these issues.
What Tech in School Really Looks Like by Audrey Watters

Watters, A. (2012, April 30). What Tech in Schools Really Looks Like. The Digital Shift Library School Journal. Retrieved  from