NewsLiteracyPlaybook - Flipbook - Page 30
Standards of quality journalism:
The lesson on which all are built
Critical Questions for
Students to Ask
Our initial classroom program included five core
lessons that were aligned to our four “enduring
understandings” and a summative exercise that we
called the CHECK process. We now offer a growing
collection of online lessons — along with quizzes,
challenges and other interactive resources — through
our Checkology virtual classroom.
Who created this? How can I tell?
But the one constant on which all lessons are
based — and indeed, the reason our organization was
founded — is that there are basic, specific practices
that make some pieces of information more credible
than others. Responsible individuals seeking
information adhere to ethics and standards, such as
verification and impartiality, whether they are digging
up facts on their own or reporting while working for a
Is the information presented in a
dispassionate manner, or does it appeal
to my emotions?
These are the standards of quality journalism, and we
consider them the yardstick that we use to measure
all news and other information for credibility.
Journalism, by its very nature, is imperfect; that
is why it’s called “the first rough draft of history.”
Journalists make mistakes for many reasons: the
immediacy of deadlines, competitive pressures,
misleading (or even false) information from sources,
and sloppiness or human error. But journalists at
quality news organizations are required to meet
standards, the first of which is accuracy. If they fail to
do so, there are typically consequences, including —
in the most egregious cases, such as the fabrication
of sources — dismissal; in most cases, their
journalism career will come to an abrupt end. Quality
news outlets will correct factual errors.
What sources are cited? What is the
nature of those sources? Is there
Does it use loaded or inflammatory
language or images?
Are different points of view represented?
Is it intended to let me make up my own
mind, or does it seek to persuade, inflame
Is the subject of the article/video/blog
post given a chance to respond?
What personal biases do I bring to what
I’m reading, watching and hearing?
We encourage students to form critical habits of
mind as they consume news and other information.
While learning to ask these critical questions about
pieces of questionable information is a helpful
exercise, students also should be encouraged to
develop more functional and efficient evaluation
habits. In short, we want students to think like factcheckers. This means leaving the example itself
behind and reading laterally (from a wide variety
of sources), searching for more information about
the central claims or about the source where those
claims originally appeared. This approach can help
students debunk misinformation quickly in their