News Literacy

What's the big deal?

At Nupinion, we think news literacy is more important than ever. The digital space presents unique challenges to the way that we engage with news on all levels. A healthy and vibrant democracy relies on an educated electorate that has access to the facts and is equipped with critical thinking skills. Fake and biased news are nothing new but the lines between advertising, journalism, content marketing, opinion and propaganda can be hard to distinguish on the internet.

This page introduces some of the key concepts of news literacy. It raises some questions to ask yourself when reading news. Finally, it provides further resources to some great organisations working in this space.

News literacy is the acquisition of 21st-century, critical-thinking skills for analyzing and judging the reliability of news and information, differentiating among facts, opinions and assertions in the media we consume, create and distribute.

News literacy teaches us that all information is not created equal. Deciding what information to believe, share and act on is crucial. We are no longer just consumers of news. We are also distributors and creators of news. We must reflect on this role and the standards of quality journalism to understand the role of a free press in democracy. More than ever before, media literacy is a core competency for anyone to be able to civically engage effectively. The goal of news literacy is to help anyone navigate news and information in the digital environment.

Nupinion's tools facilitate news literacy by offering easy access to multiple news sources, different perspectives, social conversations surrounding a news topic and more. However, it ultimately remains the responsibility of the reader to evaluate each source. Technology is a tool that improves productivity. It cannot replace the role of critical thinking in evaluating news media.

The standards for quality journalism should be examined with time and care. The following questions are designed as a starting point to begin discerning verified information from spin, opinion and propaganda.

Reading News

Things to keep in mind when reading an article.

  • Do other sources verify the facts and figures cited?
  • Where is this news coming from? Does the publisher have a vested interest?
  • Are there anonymous sources? Why are they anonymous?
  • Is there a personal bias evident in the article? Is your own bias influencing your reading?
  • Have you read sources from a different political perspective than yours?
  • Are there reliable sources and statistical information? Are links provided to the source information?
  • Is the language emotionally charged or sensationalist?
  • What role do images play in influencing your reaction to the story?

Journalism Standards

Broader questions about news and journalism.

  • What does it mean for something to be newsworthy?
  • What makes an issue or event news, and who decides?
  • What factors should be used to determine which issues and events get covered by journalists?
  • Is all information created equal? Why or why not?
  • What rules should journalists abide by when reporting a story and why?
  • Are any journalistic standards impossible to achieve? If so, should those standards be abandoned?
  • What is required to make a piece of information credible?
  • What rules should journalists follow to ensure that the information they report is credible?
  • How many different types of sources are there for news reports?
  • When a source of news makes a mistake, how should it handle that mistake to maintain its credibility?
  • Why do different kinds of news reports require different kinds of sources?
  • Why do news organizations have strict policies about the use of anonymous sources? When might it be necessary to keep a source anonymous? Should the government ever be able to force journalists who have anonymous sources to reveal who they are?
  • If the press sometimes acts like a watchdog, who watches the watchdogs?

Special thanks to Nupinion's Education Liaison Carine Gibert for her contributions to all news literacy content on this page.

Further Resources

News & Media Literacy Organisations

The News Literacy Project

The News Literacy Project (NLP) is a nonpartisan national education nonprofit that works with educators and journalists to teach middle school and high school students how to sort fact from fiction in the digital age.

Center For Media Literacy

The Center for Media Literacy (CML) is dedicated to a new vision of literacy for the 21st Century: the ability to communicate competently in all media forms as well as to access, understand, analyze, evaluate and participate with powerful images, words and sounds that make up our contemporary mass media culture.

Center For News Literacy

News Literacy is a curriculum developed at Stony Brook University in New York over the past decade. It is designed to help students develop critical thinking skills in order to judge the reliability and credibility of information, whether it comes via print, television or the Internet.

National Association For Media Literacy Education

The NAMLE vision is to help individuals of all ages develop the habits of inquiry and skills of expression that they need to be critical thinkers, effective communicators and active citizens in today’s world.

Media Smarts

MediaSmarts is a Canadian not-for-profit charitable organization for digital and media literacy. Our vision is that children and youth have the critical thinking skills to engage with media as active and informed digital citizens.

Media Education Foundation

Media Education Foundation produces and distributes documentary films and other educational resources to inspire critical thinking about the social, political, and cultural impact of American mass media.

Media Wise

MediaWise believes that press freedom is a responsibility exercised by journalists and editors on behalf of the public. The most important role of journalists in a democracy is to inform the public about events, issues and opinions which might influence the decisions people take about their lives and the society in which they live. For that reason the Trust asserts the public’s right to know when inaccurate information has been delivered by the mass media

European Association For Viewing Interests

EAVI – the European Association for Viewers Interests – is an international non-profit organisation registered in Brussels which advocates media literacy and full citizenship. EAVI supports the adoption of initiatives that enable citizens read, write and participate in public life through the media.