Research (Vol. 55) — Street Smarts

Using Narrative Media Instruction and Experiential Learning to build Cultural Competency in Future Journalists

By Michael Longinow
and Tamara J. Welter

Introduction — Few lessons are more vivid from the presidential election of 2016 than the awareness that many of those most prominent in U.S news media do not know the real people that comprise audiences they claim to be serving[1]. Linked to this lesson is the attention given, since before that election, to the growing effects of “fake news” that uses stereotype and false perceptions of cultural reality to promote stories about marginalized people groups.[2]

Student journalism stands as a key resource for reform of these problems. As tools for guiding a grasp of critical thinking through investigation, narrative discovery and understanding of audience, the campus newsroom and classrooms of student media advisers have the potential to equip future leaders in American journalism with a deeper grasp of, and respect for, cross-cultural encounter, making students aware of the ways that audience can inform their approach to those far different from themselves.

Few research studies have brought learning theory to an examination of cross-cultural encounter as a teaching tool for guiding Millennials toward excellence in long-form journalistic storytelling in the 21st century.[3]  This paper will use experiential learning theory to show the ways that a cross-cultural pedagogy can have lasting effects on students’ approach to understanding themselves as journalists and their readers and viewers as a globally interactive audience. It will highlight ways in which experiential learning serves as an important pedagogical tool to bring Millennials from cross-cultural awareness to cross-cultural competency through encounter in pursuing long-form journalistic storytelling. It will suggest experiential learning as an antidote to cynicism among this age group about the role of fact-based journalism in 21st century media cultures.[4]

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