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Journalism Information Literacy Framework

Information Creation as a Process

Journalists use a variety of information sources that can include but are not limited to documents, datasets, news articles, videos, and people. Information is created in published and unpublished formats with unique processes that can influence how journalists select and use information.

The journalism field recognizes that information is highly interconnected and is created in a variety of formats and modes of delivery. Journalists assess these information formats by looking at the various creation processes involved, usually for authoring content in their original reporting work. Assessment can include but is not limited to how the information was gathered and vetted, when it was collected, and who was collecting and publishing it. Understanding the creation and publishing processes is vital for fact-checking. Journalists value information sources that are transparent in how they were created to help them evaluate for quality, accuracy, and relevance in a story. Sources that are not as transparent or deemed unreliable may be used as a starting point, and then fact-checked through triangulation and other information; however novice reporters struggle with tracing information back to the original source. Novice journalists are beginning to understand the significance of public records but cannot always articulate what they are and why they are important. If deadlines allow, expert journalists take the time and legal action to sift through public information and request information to be made public by leveraging Freedom of Information (FOI) laws. Expert journalists understand that creation processes are fluid, and that the credibility of information sources can change as the processes change. Journalists who cover a specific topic or beat have specialized knowledge and familiarity with the formats valued and produced by the field they are covering. Additionally, investigative journalists may probe deeper into information verification, uncover difficult-to-locate material, gather facts from uncooperative human sources, or critically analyze complex systems of disinformation. Journalists develop skills to produce and publish information in a variety of formats, including packaging and disseminating the same news story across different platforms, which might affect how news consumers perceive the information from each format.

Knowledge Practices

Journalists who are developing their information literate abilities

  • understand a variety of information formats are available for them to use;
  • articulate the opportunities and limitations of established and emerging formats, recognizing when certain formats should be used and for what purpose;
  • identify and evaluate the creation and publishing processes of different information formats, including their vetting, ownership, and copyright;
  • recognize the implications of using information formats that contain static or dynamic information;
  • identify the different types of information formats produced by the news media and the platforms used for publishing, and develop the skills needed to produce and publish information in a variety of formats;
  • understand the value of public records and know how to request records under the Freedom of Information (FOI) laws; 
  • recognize that different communities value some information formats over others;
  • develop specialized expertise in the information creation processes and formats that are used by people in their beat or particular subject area;
  • understand how mis/disinformation can be created and published;
  • understand the greater information ecosystem, that it is highly interconnected, and how individual formats function in the greater system.

Dispositions

Journalists who are developing their information literate abilities

  • value the process of selecting appropriate information formats based on the information need, editorial deadlines, and competition pressures between newsrooms;
  • understand that the variety of formats produced by news media can impact how information is received, used, and understood;
  • value organizations and formats with transparent creation processes, such as public records;
  • understand the role of new and emerging information communication technologies throughout the newsgathering and publishing processes;
  • are inclined to develop the skills to use and assess new information formats, such as the ability to gather, analyze, manipulate, and report on numeric data.