NYT x Sesame Street Campaign

This concept explores what a partnership between The New York Times and Sesame Street might look like in attempts to address the issues around News Literacy with a younger demographic.

Social Impact

My Role
Art Direction
Graphic Design
Installation Design
Voice over
Serda Ursan
Nathan Bolton

Director & Editor by Harutyun Harutyunyan

1. Problem

News, analysis, and opinion are the three pillars of what we know as “journalism.” In the days of print, there were dedicated sections for each, clearly marked, to avoid confusion between what was a statement of fact and what was simply one person’s opinion.
But in a complex, fast-paced, context-free, information-overloaded media landscape, the lines have become much more blurred. The result being that news consumers have become unable to tell the difference between what’s news and what’s opinion.

This idea is supported by a recent Pew Survey, that showed just that: “The findings from the survey... which measured the public’ability to distinguish between five factual statements and five opinion statements, found that a majority of Americans correctly identified at least three of the five statements in each set. But this result is only a little better than random guesses. Far fewer Americans got all five correct, and roughly a quarter got most or all wrong.”

Not only were respondents unable to properly discern the difference, they were also more likely to classify a statement as “fact” if it agreed with their existing political views. Yet another telling conclusion from the survey showed that attributing a statement (whether fact or opinion) to a particular news organization, had almost no impact on their ability to distinguish between the two types of statements either.

This study, and many like it, are a troubling sign of the times, highlighting an increasing inability of news consumers to distinguish fact from fiction and critically analyze how it shapes the way we see and interact with the world around us. More troublingly, it points to an overall decline in news literacy (a subdiscipline of media literacy), a skill set defined by the Stony Brook School of Journalism as follows:

  1. Recognize the difference between journalism and other kinds of information and between journalists and other information purveyors;

  2. In the context of journalism, recognize the difference between news and opinion;

  3. In the context of news stories, analyze the difference between assertion and verification and between evidence and inference;

  4. Evaluate and deconstruct news reports across all news media platforms, base on the quality of evidence presented and the reliability of sources;

  5. Distinguish between news media bias and audience bias.

This is a serious threat not just for The Times and our mission to simply help people understand the world, but to society at large, as divisive rhetoric, filter bubbles, and disinformation have created deep divisions within our culture that is having profound impact on the world.

Research Questions

If adults are dealing with so much chaos in regards to the news, how then are they teaching their children and the next generation about navigating the news landscape?

How do children learn about complex issues like news literacy?

How early are children exposed to similar issues in education?

2. Campaign

Our children are inheriting a future where the truth is becoming harder to discern everyday. By the age of 5, they will have already learned the fundamental skills that will guide them through the rest of their lives.

In order for them to live and thrive in a modern world, it is essential that news literacy be part of their early education. That’s why the New York Times will partnered with Sesame Street, the beloved show that has given children the tools they need to succeed -- since 1969.

Each week, Scoops will present a new piece of news literacy vocabulary. He will help viewers grasp its meaning, and learn about the role it plays in understanding the news

Scoops will also be making his rounds on the talk show circuit. Because if we’re honest, parents could use some brushing up too.

Learning has lasting effects, and with Scoops, viewers will be able to learn and grow into educated, empowered members of their communities.

-Because today’s children are tomorrow’s citizens

Newspaper and Children’s Zine


Behind the Scenes