Defining and conceptualizing news literacy

Melissa Tully, Adam Maksl, Seth Ashley, Emily K. Vraga, Stephanie Craft

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Interest in news literacy inside and outside the academy has grown alongside related concerns about the quality of news and information available. Attempts to fully define, explicate and operationalize news literacy, however, are scattered. Drawing on literature across journalism and mass communication, we propose a definition of news literacy that combines knowledge of news production, distribution and consumption with skills that help audiences assert control over their relationship with news. We propose that knowledge and skills should be conceptualized across five domains: context, creation, content, circulation and consumption. This explication offers a clear, concise and cohesive path for research about news literacy, especially empirical testing to evaluate news literacy and its effectiveness in contributing to relevant behaviours. This framework also offers a consistent, yet flexible, approach to measuring news literacy across diverse contexts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1589-1606
Number of pages18
Issue number8
StatePublished - Mar 31 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021.


  • News literacy
  • concept explication
  • knowledge
  • mass communication theory
  • measurement
  • media literacy
  • skills


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