Newspaper in Education - NIE - is a collaboration between schools and the nation's newspapers to use newspapers as educational resources. The goal is to promote literacy and encourage students to develop reading newspapers into a lifetime habit.
Many schools pursue this undertaking throughout the school year. It's given priority attention in even more schools during Newspaper in Education Week. This year's NIE Week began Monday and runs through Friday.
The Messenger backs this project enthusiastically each year. During NIE Week 9,412 newspapers are being distributed to 26 area schools. Dozens of Messengerland businesses, in cooperation with The Messenger, underwrite the cost of making newspapers available to the schools free of charge. In addition, teachers are offered a teachers guide full of activities that can be used with the newspaper during the week or throughout the school year.
During 2012, 24,000 copies of The Messenger were provided to schools as part of the NIE initiative.
Teachers incorporate the newspaper in a wide variety of classroom subjects, from current events to math and science. At the elementary level, students might read the Mini Page or learn to track the weather in cities across the United States. As students mature, they may begin to discuss the impact of local, state and national news events, or use the ads to learn about budgeting and how to be critical consumers.
In many ways, the newspaper is a "living textbook," recording history as it happens.
In an era when almost too much raw information is available to anyone who seeks it, newspapers help to organize the intimidating array of data and make it understandable to readers. That function is especially critical because information overload can cause more confusion than enlightenment. Such bewilderment can lead to nonparticipation in civic life. Newspapers help overcome that problem by sorting information into categories that are manageable intellectually. In so doing, they help citizens interpret the complicated world around them.
The information explosion - and most especially sites on the Internet sponsored by groups other than legitimate news organizations - has also created a verifiability problem. It is difficult for people to determine whether what is presented on the Web and elsewhere as ''truth'' should in fact be believed. Newspapers have always played an important role as validators of information. The deluge of information that confronts us today makes this function more important than ever.
Through the NIE program, young people come to appreciate just how valuable newspapers can be as they seek to understand an ever-changing world.