CLARIFY was launched in Fall 2014 in The Bronx to give teens from underserved communities the experience of using public service journalism to improve their communities. The program has grown to include students from all five boroughs and is needed now more than ever before:
- Only 26 percent of non-charter high schools in NYC have high school newspaper programs and only 15 percent in the Bronx do (as reported in a 2022 survey conducted by Baruch College’s High School Journalism Program)
- There has been a steady decline in local journalism across the country with an average of two local newspapers closing every week–this leaves communities less informed
- Lack of diversity in our newsrooms remains a significant challenge
- Today’s high school students are the first to use social media as a news source. The ability to ensure they have the ability to discern between fake and real news is a growing priority
CLARIFY addresses these issues and more. Alumni report being instilled with newfound confidence, improved critical thinking, and civic awareness.
Upon completion of the program, pre/post surveying has indicated a significant increase in understanding of public-service journalism and the important role it plays in local communities. Students consistently report improved awareness of public officials and their duties, how the local government conducts itself, and an increased willingness to contact public officials and government agencies for information. The CLARIFY Youth Training Program has helped to transform students from hesitant interviewers to bold reporters who have the research skills and knowledge to ask public officials informed questions.
When covering local issues that apply directly to their communities, these students are able to witness the very stories they cover play out in front of them. The benefits of CLARIFY don’t end once the program does. An early comprehension and participation in journalism sets these students up for a lifetime of media literacy and civic engagement.