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Introduction to news literacy

Posted by on Aug 22, 2017 in Blog, Lessons, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


by Kristin Taylor


Introduction to News Literacy


In order for students to understand the importance of the freedom of speech and freedom of the press guaranteed by the First Amendment, they must understand the responsibilities that come along with this freedom. It is not enough to have a free press — we must be able to evaluate our news and vary our news diets. This lesson provides a foundational understanding of news media literacy and asks students to reflect on their own news media habits to escape our filter bubbles and avoid fake news. Although this lesson is formatted here as a 60-minute class period, it can be approached in a number of ways. The presentation could happen in specific classes (social studies, English, etc.) or to groups of students (school assembly, class meeting, advisory groups) with the discussion happening immediately or in a follow-up class.


  • Students will be able to define and explain the difference between traditional news sources, non-traditional news sources, news aggregators, partisan news sources and fake news sources.
  • Students will be able to define and explain the difference between objective news, news analysis, opinion and native ads/sponsored content.
  • Students will be able to evaluate the importance of news media literacy in a democratic society.
  • Students will reflect on and evaluate their own news media literacy to determine how they should continue or change their current news habits.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.9-10.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.9-10.2 Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.9-10.6 Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how an author uses rhetoric to advance that point of view or purpose.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.9-10.1.C Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that relate the current discussion to broader themes or larger ideas; actively incorporate others into the discussion; and clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions.



60 minutes

Materials / resources

Whiteboard and markers

Teacher laptop and digital projector

Handout: TrumpBriefings_newslit.pdf (used with written permission from National Report)

Slideshow: Intro to News Media Literacy

Discussion questions can be projected on the board or handed out to small groups.

Lesson step-by-step

Step 1 —  Warm up (10 minutes)

As students arrive, hand out copies of the (fake) news story “Trump to limit all intelligence briefings to 140 characters” (TrumpBriefings_newslit.pdf). Have students look at the article and ask for reactions. Is this a real story or is it fake? How do they know? If students have access to laptops or phones and go to Google this story or site, let them — the internet is the central verification tool for 21st century news consumers.

After a few minutes, of investigation and discussion, have students share why they think it is or is not fake. Then reveal that this is a fake news article and tell students that today’s class will focus on understanding different types of news sources and becoming more news literate consumers.

Step 2 — Lecture and class discussion (40 minutes)

Use the framing slideshow (with instructor notes) to discuss how the media frames the news.

Step 3 — Small group discussion (10 minutes)

Questions for small group discussion

  1. What did you learn from today’s presentation that you didn’t know before? Will this new knowledge affect the way you think about or consume news?
  2. Why do you think so many teenagers are fooled by fake news and images?
  3. Have you ever reposted an article without reading it? What is the danger of relying on headlines or assuming someone else has verified the content before you share it?
  4. Part of being a responsible citizen in a democracy is being informed. What is your media diet? Do you consume credible news sources? Do you read local news (student-run school publications, local news sources)? Why or why not?
  5. Evaluate your own news media literacy. What are you doing right? What else do you need to do to be more news literate?


Students should create a ticket-to-leave with one concept they understand about the news that they didn’t understand before and one question they still have. The teacher will collect these as they leave to plan for follow-up and clarification as needed.


Students could watch this 10 minute 2011 TED talk about “online filter bubbles” by Eli Pariser — he predicted our online experience would become more and more polarized as sites like Facebook and search engines like Google use algorithms to personalize our digital experience. Do you think his predictions have come true? What can we do to get outside our own filter bubbles?

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