Current Event April 11, 2021
Listen to hear about a video game that sold for a very high price.
Vocabulary: anonymous, auction, remarkable
Current Event March 16, 2021
In a recent television interview, Prince Harry, grandson of Queen Elizabeth of England, and his wife, Meghan Markle, aired their grievances against the British royal family. The couple spoke publicly for the first time since stepping back from their royal duties a year ago. Meghan, who is biracial, objected to what she felt were racist comments from family members as well as the palace’s insensitivity to her mental health needs. Listen to hear more about the young couple’s disappointment with Buckingham Palace and why they chose to leave the royal life behind.
Current Event March 3, 2021
A 9-year-old boy in Colorado has raised thousands of dollars for food banks by writing and selling his own newsletter. He was inspired to help after learning that many people are unemployed during the pandemic, and some struggle with hunger. Writing his kid-friendly newsletter has connected him with neighbors and taught him what it means to be a journalist. Listen to an interview with a young writer to learn why he started a fund-raising project and what he likes best about the job.
Is it possible to find “genuine pockets of goodness” on social media these days? Artist Johnny Sun and famed Hamilton playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda think so. They were strangers to each other until they met in the comments section of Twitter and went on to publish Gmorning, Gnight! Little Pep Talks for Me & You, a book which coupled Miranda’s beloved daily Twitter affirmations with Sun’s quirky, expressive illustrations. Listen to Sun tell the story of how his search for positivity in the social media community brought him into Miranda’s orbit and transformed both his career and mental health.
Current Event January 8, 2021
A deepfake is a piece of audio or video that has been manipulated to represent something that never actually happened. Created using advanced technology, deepfakes often look and sound so real that it is easy to be fooled by them. Many people worry that deepfakes will cause damage by spreading false information so widely that the truth will be lost. Some are concerned that deepfakes will erode people’s trust in the media, causing them to dismiss truth as fiction. Listen to learn more about media manipulation and then debate: Will deepfakes change how people view media?
Current Event November 6, 2020
Many Americans rely on polls to predict the outcome of elections. Polls ask large numbers of voters how they plan to vote, and news media outlets often report on those findings. However, many such polls did not accurately predict 2020 election outcomes, and people are wondering why. Some say that polling has become less reliable, and the media’s use of them can be misleading. Others say that polls can still help to inform us, and that without them, we would be in the dark. Listen to hear more about election polling and then debate: Should the news media rely on election polls?
Current Event November 5, 2020
Many people feel stressed as the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage, and some are turning to Tabitha Brown for comfort. Brown is a TikTok personality who posts cooking videos accompanied by words of love and encouragement. Her soothing presence has attracted millions of followers, including many young people. Listen to Tabitha Brown explain how she got started on TikTok and the responsibility she feels to her teen audience.
Current Event June 5, 2020
How do videos of violent acts affect people? This question has been raised again by the recent leaked videotape of the killing of an unarmed black man, Ahmaud Arbery, in Georgia. Some say violent videos can help achieve justice for the victim, while others point out the harms that are caused when the videos become routine. Listen to learn more about the effects of viral violent videos and then debate: Should videos of community violence be shared?
Current Event November 7, 2019
"Alice in Wonderland" is now on Instagram. Social media fans can find five works of literature, including the classic novel by Lewis Carroll, on their social media feeds. The New York Public Library has posted multimedia versions of the works through its new Insta Novel project. By combining the fun and appeal of social media with popular novels and poems, the library hopes to attract new readers. Listen to hear a blogger describe her experience with "Alice" online, and discover how it lined up with the aims of the Insta Novel creators.
Current Event October 10, 2019
Vaping has been linked to illness and even some deaths, and critics are arguing that ads targeting young people contribute to this growing public health problem. Vaping advertisers are looking to successful cigarette ads of the past to help them attract new users. They emphasize flavored varieties that appeal to young people and promote vaping as a healthy alternative to smoking. Listen to hear how vaping companies are working with advertisers to skirt regulations and craft ads that attract teens to the risky practice of vaping.
Current Event September 13, 2019
Congress recently held a hearing to consider how technology companies might be endangering the news industry and threatening democracy. Some newspaper publishers argue that online platforms like Google and Facebook unfairly threaten their existence and are controlling public access to information. Some technology executives say this is not the case, suggesting that the news media are not keeping up with innovative competition. In order to resolve this issue, lawmakers have proposed a bill with bipartisan support. Listen to learn more and then debate: Are online platforms threatening democracy?
Current Event August 16, 2019
YouTube has started removing videos containing extremist content promoting white supremacy. Some people and organizations support this policy as a way to make social media platforms safer. Others point out that the system for removing videos is imperfect, and this policy could interfere with video creators’ right to freely express themselves. Listen to learn more about YouTube’s new restrictions and then debate: Should YouTube remove extremist videos?
Current Event April 5, 2019
For years, parents have commemorated major moments in their children’s lives with a camera. These personal photos and videos often end up on social media, shared with wide audiences. Some kids like this exposure, while others do not. Listen to this story to hear a reporter with The Atlantic magazine talk about this social media phenomenon and then debate: Should parents share about their kids on social media?
In this interview, actor Henry Winkler discusses his own learning difference and that of Hank Zipzer, the main character in Winkler’s children’s book series. Hank, who is based on Winkler’s own experience as a child, struggles with learning to read, but works hard to succeed despite his challenges. Listen to learn more about Winkler’s story, how he persevered through his dyslexia and achieved success, and what he considers his greatest accomplishment.
Current Event March 5, 2019
A journalist in the Philippines who has been critical of the government was recently arrested for the sixth time, raising concerns among champions of press freedom around the world. The arrest was based on false charges, and the journalist may be in danger in a country where the press has been regularly targeted by an authoritarian government. Listen to this interview with a representative of Reporters without Borders, an organization that reports on press freedom, about the risks facing journalists worldwide.
Current Event February 19, 2019
The comic strip Baldo has been published in newspapers across the United States for 20 years. It was the first ever to feature a Latino family as the main characters. Hector Cantu, the author of Baldo was inspired to create the comic strip after noticing how few Latino characters were represented in comics. Baldo features fictional characters who deal with real life issues. Listen to this story to hear from the author of Baldo about the creation of this ground-breaking work.