News literacy

What do we mean by news literacy?

News literacy is the ability to think and speak for ourselves about current affairs. In order to do this, we need to develop the knowledge and skills needed to form an accurate picture of what is happening in the world and justify opinions about the news with sound arguments.

News Literacy Model illustration

Our news literacy model

The news literacy model has been created by The Economist Educational Foundation as a way to support the development of news literacy in young people. It outlines the knowledge and skills needed to engage with the news.

The model includes a News Curriculum which details the specific knowledge required to understand the news. It also sets out four essential critical-thinking and communication skills: speaking, listening, problem-solving and creativity. These skills form part of the Skills Builder Universal Framework*.

We’ve created resources for teachers to help them to use the news literacy model in their classrooms. The resources are suitable for use with students aged 9-16.


*The Skills Builder Framework is a tool to develop and measure progress in the essential skills for school, university and employment. It can be found at skillsbuilder.org/framework.

Why these skills?

Listening

Good listeners learn more.
To understand the news, we need to gather all the important information. That means we need to be able to listen well. Sometimes, we don’t really listen to things that we don’t agree with. That can mean that we miss out on hearing important perspectives or being able to hear the truth. Other times, we can be too easily persuaded by information that isn’t true, because we don’t listen well enough to spot that it’s false. Listening well means really trying to understand what you’re hearing, so that you can learn new things.

Speaking

Good speakers have discussions that help everyone to learn, including themselves.
Speaking is an important part of news literacy for two reasons. Firstly, it helps us to work out what we think about the news, by enabling us to join discussions about it. In discussions, we can hear different people’s opinions, ask questions to find out more and think hard to answer questions that people ask us. This all helps us to learn. Secondly, speaking helps us to express our opinions about what’s happening in the news and what should be done about it.

Problem-solving

Good problem-solvers can work out what’s really going on and what should be done about it.
Problem-solving is an important part of news literacy because it enables us to work out what we think about the news. It helps us to work out whether information is true or false.  Also, when we hear about problems in the news such as climate change, problem solving helps us to work out how those problems could be solved. Problem-solving helps us to decide between different points of view, too. Sometimes there are lots of different opinions about a news story and problem-solving helps us to work out which ones make most sense, which ones we agree with and why.

Creativity

Creative people can come up with ideas about what might be going on and what could be done about it.
Creativity helps us to come up with ideas that help us to understand the news. For example, we might come up with ideas about why something is happening in the news. Or we might come up with ideas about how different events in the news might be connected, which helps us to understand the reasons for things. It also helps us to work out which points of view on the news we agree with, by enabling us to imagine the consequences of those points of view. Creativity and problem-solving go together. Just like problem-solving, creativity helps us to work out what we think and come up with ways to solve problems that we hear about in the news.

Resource toolkit

News Curriculum poster

Discover our News Curriculum through accessible and challenging questions. Put up in your classroom to help students to develop a solid foundation of knowledge to underpin their discussions.

News-literacy skills poster

Display our news-literacy skills to help students progress in their communication and critical thinking. Discover how to progress in each skill through the easy-to-follow assessment criteria.

Question cards

A selection of questions which can help to develop news literacy knowledge and skills. Useful for questioning students about the news, having students question each other and reflection activities.

Tips for discussing the news

Some student tips for discussing current affairs in the classroom.
Useful for creating a positive and respectful discussion environment, and building student confidence in sharing their ideas

Tips for managing sensitive conversations

Some tips for how to manage conversations about controversial or difficult issues in the news. Useful for facilitating conversations about the news.

Trustworthy news: key indicators

Eight indicators to help identify trustworthy news, adapted from The Trust Project’s Trust Indicators. Useful for building knowledge and planning activities.

How does news literacy improve young people’s lives?

The skills and knowledge that make up our news literacy model also impact a young person’s success in education, employment and democratic engagement.

EMPLOYMENT

News-literacy skills are identified by employers as essential to succeeding in the workplace.

  • Essential skills are required by “almost everyone [...] to do almost any job. They are the skills that make specific knowledge [...] fully productive”1
  • Skills which cannot be automated, such as the news literacy skills, support a long and prosperous life in the future2
  • Employers consistently call for these skills across all educational and experience levels3
  • 74% of teachers say employability skills are now the most important way to improve pupils’ career prospects4

EDUCATION

A focus on communication skills and discussion supports academic success in school and beyond.

  • Introducing Interventions that target communication skills can lead to students making approximately five months additional progress throughout the year5
  • High-quality conversations in primary school can significantly improve SAT scores, reading comprehension and writing and reasoning skills6

DEMOCRATIC ENGAGEMENT

Giving young people accessible, relevant information about societal issues and space to practise discussing them supports democratic engagement.

  • Building young people’s access to relevant political and societal information builds confidence in political engagement. Only 37% of young people currently feel the issues are relevant to them7
  • The Fake News and Critical Literacy report recommended regular exposure to, and discussion of, the news to help foster trust in journalism and democracy8