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Journalism Information Literacy Framework

Research as Inquiry

Journalism research is an iterative process that creates new threads of inquiry and helps identify and scope story ideas.

Inquiry is an integral part of the research process in reporting, often leading down different lines of questioning as journalists learn more about the issue(s) they are covering, and identify gaps in existing news coverage. Expert journalists recognize the importance of following those paths and digging for answers. They also understand that research is an integral part of the process in determining the credibility of an information source and confirming what they have been told. The range and depth of questions that journalists ask and examine can vary depending on the nature of the topic, with some issues requiring more investigation to provide further support for a story. Novice journalists stick to a limited number of research methods, while experts have developed a wider variety of strategies for researching and questioning. Experts are also able to recognize the scope of inquiry needed (depending on the topic), the demands of the publication cycle, and the importance of deadlines. Novices will feel their research is complete once there is enough information for a reader to understand the story and will typically stay at the surface level, whereas an expert will also ensure that they have explored multiple sides of a story.

Knowledge Practices

Journalists who are developing their information literate abilities

  • monitor a variety of information to develop story ideas;
  • develop questions based on gaps in media coverage of a story, such as untold parts of a story or voices that have not been heard or amplified;
  • assess the appropriate amount of research needed;
  • use background research to gain a broad understanding of a topic or issue;
  • leverage technologies in the process of identifying new questions;
  • synthesize information from a selection of sources found through research;
  • maintain a secure system for organizing and safeguarding information obtained through a variety of sources.


Journalists who are developing their information literate abilities

  • seek a variety of sources and multiple perspectives in developing a defensible story;
  • ethically treat human sources and subjects in the process of gathering and using information;
  • recognize the importance of persistence in gathering information;
  • seek assistance from and collaborate with colleagues as needed;
  • maintain a critical approach in determining what could be considered newsworthy;
  • recognize that more sources will be acquired than might appear in the final story;
  • demonstrate flexibility and creativity in learning new technologies for research purposes;
  • value the process of source verification.