News Literacy Week: CWI students bringing a new perspective to local news

Posted at 4:22 PM, Jan 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-28 22:22:56-05

NAMPA, Idaho — This week is News Literacy Week, and our parent company, E.W. Scripps, is partnering with the News Literacy Project to help provide you with ways to spot misinformation that’s meant to trick or mislead us.

At the College of Western Idaho, Maximus Molina and Stephanie Becerra are trying to bring a new perspective to local news. In her final semester at CWI while pursuing a degree in media arts, Becerra has watched the past four years unfold with an increased desire to seek the truth.

"More than anything, I feel like it would motivate you more to go out there, get the truth and let people know what's going on so they can form their own opinion," she said of former President Donald Trump's remarks toward the media.

While the narrative around the media could be a motivator for some, it opens up new windows of opportunity for others. Molina, a freshman at CWI, said Trump's comments had not phased him in his pursuit of a journalism career.

"After hearing all of that, at least for me, I don't really worry about what Trump said," Molina said. "I worry about how can I help the industry, or how can I help bring a different perspective to people at home, rather than being classified as bad journalists."

A variety of voices in local news

The news presents a set of facts, but more voices behind those facts shape opinion, Becerra said.

"Especially when you don't know all the facts then learn, that's when your opinions can change," she said. "I know some people's opinions change based on others and it's hard not to do that. Other than that, it's just looking at the facts."

But more time and space given to a variety of voices and perspectives opens more space for common ground, something Molina said he is hoping to do.

"You've got different perspectives that kind of clash, but you also want to get even ground, see where this person is coming from and where this person is coming from," he said.

Art in the form of storytelling

Dan Garrity is currently a professor at CWI, helping students navigate the art of storytelling in the college's multimedia storytelling class. After many years in the news business, Garrity discovered his passion for teaching at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wa., where he eventually became the director of Broadcast News.

"It became a little more fulfilling… to see somebody try something that we'd discussed, and then succeed," Garrity said. "I did learn something from a lot of coaches I'd observed. The coach that's doomed to failure tries to mold the players into the coach's ideal. The really successful, great coaches are the ones who say, 'let's see what we got here.'"

Now at CWI after moving to Boise to be closer to family, Garrity applies his news background and passion for teaching to guide students from a range of experiences through the current media landscape.

"On the one hand, a student's a student's a student," he said. "On the other hand, I see the students I am honored to be in front of these days; they climb over a pretty high wall to get to class every day."

From everything to daily class to final projects, students on different media paths find other areas of fascination within the class. For Molina, it's the technical side of producing the news.

"What piques my interest is how they go about the production of making a story," he said. "From the start of getting the story to going through the motions of getting a group to go out and not only film, but get the visual effect to someone sitting at home watching a story."

Beccera said she wants to break the mold of what she sees in the news daily and find a way to use the platform to make people sometimes smile — while still informing the community.

"Just getting the truth out there, no matter how ugly it is, and getting both sides of the story is important to people, whether it's nationally or locally," she said. "It's important to get it out there so people can see. I think people want to know what's going on."

Regardless of whether his students pursue hard news or go another path in the media, Garrity said he knows his students have the foundation they need.

"I feel very confident that the basic foundational skills they are learning get them a serious conversation with a television news director, with the communications director at St. Luke's, with a political campaign," he said. "This is the new language of the 21st century and we are grammar teachers.