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Teens Making News This Week with Words, Not Weapons

Teens are making news in ChicagoTalks, owing to a couple of journalism-related efforts that combine news know-how, education and the voice of teenagers about problems they face. At Marquette School, located at 6550 S. Richmond St. in Chicago, they are kicking off a new curriculum focused on news literacy. In the loop, Columbia College Chicago’s Links program is hosting a Launch Party for its teen-written magazine r_wurd at 33 E. Congress.

On Tuesday, Oct. 20 at 1:30 p.m., Clarence Page, a Pulitzer Prize-winning Chicago Tribune columnist, will appear with Alan C. Miller, founder of the News Literacy Project and a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter formerly with the Los Angeles Times, Andrew J. Mooney, executive director of LISC/Chicago, and Paul O’Toole, principal at Marquette School, to announce the News Literacy Project in Chicago.

The News Literacy Project ( is a partner with the Chicago office of LISC, a national not-for-profit organization that provides capital and other resources to support the comprehensive development of healthy, stable neighborhoods with this project.

Marquette teacher Courtney Rogers will pilot the curriculum to teach sixth grade students how to distinguish verified information from unfiltered messages, opinion, advertising and propaganda. Marquette is one of five inner-city middle schools that LISC is engaged with through the Elev8 program, which brings integrated services, including health care and after-school opportunities, to middle-school students. Contact Jane DeRonne, 312-822-0505, or Peter Adams, 773-706-7199, for more information.

Meanwhile, the public is invited to meet downtown for the Launch Party of the teen-written magazine r_word on Thursday, Oct. 22. Attendees are invited to discuss the issues important to a group of high school schoolers who use words instead of weapons to detail the challenges they face. Columbia’s Links program reaches out to teens and the public via its webpage and Facebook.

“We’re really excited about the publication of our latest r_wurd,” said Curtis Lawrence, an assistant professor in the Journalism Department at Columbia College Chicago. “In addition to the contributions from our teen reporters who focused on how unemployment and a spiraling increase in violence impacts them, there’s a special section dealing with environmental racism,” Lawrence said.

Lawrence co-founded the journalism skills-building program for Chicago Public Schools students and teachers with Journalism Department Chair Nancy Day.

“Thursday’s event, where award-winning investigative journalist Renee Ferguson will lead a discussion with our students, will be an excellent opportunity for those interested on a teen perspective to a number of key urban issues,” Lawrence said.

Lawrence and Day said they were especially thankful to the McCormick Foundation and the Dow Jones Newspaper Fund for their financial support of Columbia Links projects.

Columbia Links is a journalism skills-building and leadership development program for youth and teachers in Chicago Public Schools, housed at Columbia College Chicago. Through workshops, mentoring and the creation of youth-produced publications, Links works to build expertise, relationships, skills and opportunities that connect students, teachers and volunteers through journalism, while revitalizing youth media in Chicago.

Come and talk with teens who care about their neighborhoods:

  • 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 22
  • Journalism Department of Columbia College Chicago, Second Floor, 33 E. Congress Parkway, corner of Wabash.
  • Program begins at 6 p.m. in room 219.
  • RSVP at or call 312-369-8993 for more information.

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