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Journalism Information Literacy Framework

News as Conversation

Understanding of a news event is highly complex, and addresses many possible angles. News reporting is constructed by inquiring into a range of perspectives in a participatory information ecosystem that includes professional journalists, newsroom staff, citizen journalists, sources, and readers.

News stories break and evolve over time, with various news outlets covering different angles and revealing new pieces of information. Expert journalists seek out gaps in coverage but also determine what stories need to be retold for the benefit of the community. In framing a news story, a journalist must choose which pieces of information and perspectives to include and how to organize them. To be represented in the news is inherently powerful, and it is an ethical responsibility in journalism to hold those in power accountable and to give a voice to those without power, particularly groups that are historically disadvantaged or marginalized. (See, for example, "Journalism Needs More Diverse Voices.") The kinds of perspectives that are represented in the news may change over time with differences in societal values, with greater awareness of those without power and with developments in news production and dissemination. Expert journalists understand that a news story may be characterized by several competing perspectives and are inclined to seek out a range of perspectives, including those voices that are marginalized. They critically judge what tells a story in the most impartial light and are aware that choices made may change others’ conclusions about the story. Novices may only perceive “both sides” of a story and may only seek out familiar perspectives or voices.

Experts balance the commercial demands and tight deadlines of reporting with seeking complete and fair information. While anyone may participate in the news conversation, those who work for established news media organizations may have more significant influence and amplification of reporting. Expert journalists understand the importance of the participatory environment in news reporting and value the contributions of other reporters, editors, experts, and members of the community in writing a story, whereas novices may consider reporting as a solitary act of performance. The news conversation occurs through both traditional publishing and new information communication technologies, and experts go beyond established modes of publishing when disseminating information. Familiarity with methods of journalistic research, writing, and publication helps novice learners enter the news conversation.

Knowledge Practices

Journalists who are developing their information literate abilities

  • contribute to the news conversation in various mediums, which may include reporting, blogging, participating in social media, and following media commentary;
  • identify advantages, challenges, and responsibilities to entering the news conversation via various venues and technologies, considering issues like the intended audience, how the information might be used, and the time frame;
  • determine how a news story fits within the contributions of previous reporting and cite other news sources as appropriate;
  • choose perspectives that are representative to the community being served and appropriate to the type of publication;
  • evaluate how perspectives are represented in the news and how that has changed over time;
  • recognize that an individual source represents the “face” of a perspective, that an individual may not represent the only - or even the majority - perspective on the issue
  • determine how to represent potentially socially harmful perspectives carefully and ethically;
  • leverage new technologies creatively in identifying perspectives and sources and in contributing to the news conversation.

Dispositions

Journalists who are developing their information literate abilities

  • value and evaluate contributions made by others to the conversation;
  • understand that reporting is a collaborative process;
  • recognize that how a story has been told in the media may not be the best or the only way of understanding what happened;
  • recognize that society privileges certain perspectives over others, and that those without power should be sought out;
  • recognize that their own personal biases may need to be checked in choosing perspectives for a story;
  • suspend judgment on the value of an individual perspective until the broader context is understood;
  • recognize that conversations are happening in traditional and emerging venues;
  • seek to build trust with community members, and specifically look to include and listen to marginalized groups.