What is news literacy and why is it important?

The News Literacy Project defines it as such, news literacy teaches that all information is not created equal.

The News Literacy Project defines it as such, news literacy teaches that all information is not created equal. It uses the standards of quality journalism as an aspirational yardstick to determine what information to believe, share, and act on.

With the myriad of content circulating through social news-feeds, it has become harder to discern what is news and what is propaganda.

It is important to educate ourselves about credible news reporting so that we don’t get distracted by content that is narrow sighted.

News literacy, or being literate about news, makes people better news consumers,” explains Joe Grimm, editor in residence for the School of Journalism at Michigan State University.

The challenge is in ascertaining the difference, and the reality that trending content tends to be malignant.

When I open up Facebook, under trending politics, “Caitlyn Jenner calls out Trump’s trasngender policy a disaster” is at the top with 40,000 people talking about it. Directly below is “Conservative Political Action Conference” with a traffic count of170,000.

Granted, the variables of Facebook’s algorithm influences the way content is displayed on my news-feed.

However, I find it interesting that a high profiling celebrity warrants more attention than information about a political conference. Over 620,000 people on Facebook are talking about “Did Justin Bieber Pee His Pants?”

Why is this? Perhaps because it is something instantly gratifying to engage in. Perhaps because it is much easier to be impulsively responsive than it is to be critically analytical. I argue that part of the issue is that we live in an age governed by consumerism. What are people going to buy? What are they going to eat up with their eyes?

The fundamental duty of a reporter is to accurately report information, and it is the business of media companies to distribute that information with the public.

“The problem is that it is much harder and more expensive to produce news than to produce other kinds of content,”elucidates Grimm.

Therefore it is imperative that we as consumers of news be mindful and attentive to what we engage in and share.