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News Literacy Toolkit

About This News Literacy Toolkit

News literacy has become especially important as digital technologies have greatly shaped how news information is created and circulated. (News literacy is "[t]he ability to use critical thinking skills to judge the reliability and credibility of news reports, whether they come via print, television or the Internet," according to Stonybrook University's Center for News Literacy.) 

At the same time research shows that the United States has become more politically polarized, and this is reflected in much of the news that we encounter. This increased polarization add to the challenge of critically evaluating news and media.  

This guide includes resources to help with evaluating news sources and exploring the complexities of news information today. See the left-hand menu for various resource types.

Why News Literacy?

In recent years fake and misleading news has become prevalent. It is perhaps unsurprising that Oxford Dictionaries named "post-truth" as its 2016 "Word of the Year." This guide can help readers evaluate news sources for accuracy and harmful bias.

Reasons that fake news has become a growing problem include:

  • The growing use of social media as the primary source for news consumption:
    According the a Pew Research Center report over 40% of adults in the US go to Facebook for their news.
  • The appeal of sensational and often false "clickbait" information
    News that goes "viral" and is widely share is far more likely to be false or misleading.
  • "Filter bubbles" that result from the personalized web:
    Search engines and social media usually present a us with information intended to fit with own own individual interests and perspective. We may then miss information that others with different perspectives are more likely to see.
  • Confirmation bias:
    People are predisposed to believe information that fits their worldview and to discount information that does not.

These factors reflect a need to carefully evaluate news sources and where and how we get our news.