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Journalism Information Literacy Framework


This document applies principles that are addressed within the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education adopted in January of 2016 by the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL). Its purpose is to enable the evaluation of the information literacy and research skills of journalism students and professionals by providing a set of framing concepts pertinent to that profession. The audience for this document includes librarians, journalism educators, post-secondary students, and professional journalists. Dispositions and knowledge practices addressed assume a United States context but may also contribute to comparison with journalism in other nations. These frames are a resource for faculty and librarians involved in curriculum planning, instructional settings, and research consultations that intersect with journalism curricula and contribute to sets of standards professional journalists may consider as they go about their work. Standards of excellence from journalism education organizations, as well as codes of practices and codes of ethics from the journalism profession, were consulted during the creation of the document (see Journalism Ethics Codes and Standards and Other Journalism Associations). These standards and codes guide journalists in supporting a vibrant free press and maintaining the exchange of information that is accurate, fair, and thorough.

Since the publication in 2011 of ACRL’s Information Literacy Standards for Journalism Students and Professionals (pdf), the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education extends the definition of information literacy. Information literacy is the set of integrated abilities encompassing the reflective discovery of information, the understanding of how information is produced and valued, and the use of information in creating new knowledge and participating ethically in communities of learning. The Framework recognizes the increasing role for students and professionals as creators of new knowledge and enhanced understanding and attention devoted to ethical uses of that information.

This recognition is presented in the form of a series of threshold concepts viewed as the points at which enlarged understanding takes place for how to think about and practice a discipline (see Strategies for Assessment). As the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education describes, knowledge practices are the proficiencies or abilities that learners develop as a result of their comprehending a threshold concept. Dispositions involve attitudinal components of learning, clusters of preferences, attitudes, and intentions.  

The authors considered the following factors to develop a document that can be relevant to the wide-range of journalists' tasks. Journalism resides at an intersection of multiple literacies such as data, visual, civic, and media. It is a practice employing a wide variety of rapidly evolving communications platforms and digital tools. Because of technological advancements, individuals can exhibit both novice and expert behaviors at different parts of the research process. At expert levels within their field, journalists understand not only how to practice their profession, but why their work and the independence of a free press is critical. The study and practice of journalism can include investigation of situations when publication sources or platforms familiar to the public are used as tools for the spread of misinformation. The role of journalists at times challenges existing positions of power or status held by persons, organizations, or governments. Journalists and their organizations may also periodically be targeted by those who wish to manipulate what and how news is covered. They engage in reflective practice, understand how journalism is produced and valued, and use the information they encounter to synthesize as well as create new knowledge for the benefit of a diverse citizenry. 

The sections that follow present knowledge practices and dispositions important for information literacy within journalism. These abilities and attitudes are addressed under six conceptual frames: Authority is constructed and conceptual, information creation as a process, information has value, news as conversation, research as inquiry, and searching as strategic exploration.


Meyer, J. H. F., Land, R., & Baillie, C. (2010). Editors’ preface: Threshold concepts and transformational learning. In J. H. F. Meyer, R. Land, & C. Baillie (Eds.), Threshold concepts and transformational learning (pp. ix–xlii). Sense Publishers.

Salomon, G. (1994). To Be or Not to Be (Mindful). American Educational Research Association Meetings, New Orleans, LA.