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News Literacy Guide 

News Literacy

“The ability to use critical thinking skills to judge the reliability and credibility of news reports, whether they come via print, television or the Internet”--Glossary, Digital Resource Center: Center for News Literacy

What is news?

The information that keeps us informed about our world. The Digital Resource Center: Center for News Literacy defines news in four ways:

  • News is a "Scoop"--Newsworthy often means new
  • News is what an editor thinks is news--Someone is always making decisions about what gets published and what doesn’t; what leads are followed up on and which are left unexamined
  • News is what's on society's mind--think of what gets shared among your friends or on social media
  • News is what powerful people don't want you to know--Journalists uncover truths; it is their job to investigate and report so that citizens can make informed decisions

What is journalism?

The American Press Institute defines journalism as “the activity of gathering, assessing, creating, and presenting news and information.” The Society of Professional Journalists have a Code of Ethics that guides their work.

What is Fake News?

Media Matters defines fake news as “information that is clearly and demonstrably fabricated and that has been packaged and distributed to appear as legitimate news.” Of course, the term fake news is often used to refer to other kinds of information, whether that is news we don’t agree with or satire or clickbait or deeply biased reporting. Accuracy when describing information is important to evaluating the validity of that information.

Recognizing Bias

We all have a world view, a set of beliefs that we use to understand the world around us. These beliefs often develop into biases, a preference for a particular perspective that upholds our worldview. These biases aren’t necessarily bad, but they do often obscure vital pieces of information that may lead to a fuller understanding of a story. This section of the News Literacy Guide provides resources for how to recognize your own bias, how to recognize bias in the news and media you consume, as well as some strategies for getting a fuller picture of news events and issues in the media.

News Quality Chart--First, identify the news source you use the most, and then see where it falls on the Liberal/Conservative range, and then where it falls on the original reporting/fake news range.Read about how this chart was developed.

  • Allsides is a website that presents articles about issues from three distinct perspectives: liberal, conservative, and center. It’s particularly useful in understanding how language can be used to convey very different perspectives on the same event.
  • Discover your Bias--Allsides also provides its own tool, along with other resources, to make it easier to recognize your biases. Most are fairly short online quizzes. Try one out!
  • Why You Stink at Fact Checking looks at research from Cognitive Psychology to understand why we so often struggle to identify and retain factual information
  • How to Escape your Political Bubble for a Clearer View (NY Times article on ways to get views from other political viewpoints)

Evaluating Credibility and Checking Facts

Not all information sources are created equally. There are a number of factors to consider when evaluating the credibility of a news source, and determining whether the information provided is true, fake, or just one side of the story. The resources below can help you think through the process.

Fact Checking Sites

How and Why Fake News Spreads

Resources for Teaching News Literacy

Looking for materials to support a class you’re teaching? Or do you just want a deeper dive into understanding news literacy? Either way, these resources provide lesson plans, activities, readings, and other media to develop news literacy.

TH 7/24/18