Theorizing News Literacy Behaviors

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Despite renewed interest in news literacy (NL) as a way to combat mis- and dis-information, existing scholarship is plagued by insufficient theory building and inadequate conceptualization of both "NL"and its application. We address this concern by offering a concise definition of NL and suggest five key knowledge and skill domains that comprise this literacy. We distinguish NL from its application to behaviors that communication scholars have been interested in, including news exposure, verification, and identifying misinformation. We propose an adapted Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) to include NL in addition to the existing components (attitudes towards the behavior, social norms, perceived behavioral control) when modeling NL Behaviors. We discuss how this model can unite scholars across subfields and propose a research agenda for moving scholarship forward.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalCommunication Theory
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Competing interests: G. Hatemi has received research grant from Celgene, honoraria consulting or speaker fees from AbbVie, Amgen, Celgene, Lilly, Novartis and UCB Pharma. E. Seyahi has received honoraria from Novartis, Pfizer, AbbVie and Gilead. D. Uçar has received honoraria from AbbVie. V. Hamuryudan has received speaker fees and honoraria from Amgen, AbbVie, Celltrion, MSD, Johnson & Johnson, Gilead, Pfizer, Lilly and UCB Pharma. The other co-authors have declared no competing interests.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of International Communication Association. All rights reserved.


  • Journalism
  • Misinformation
  • News Literacy (NL)
  • News Literacy Behaviors (NLB)
  • Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB)


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