News Literacy Now

How to “Read” the News

by Bobbie Eisenstock (Author)
Textbook XVI, 150 Pages


Real news. Fake news. Alternative Facts. We are living in the Digital Age of Disinformation where factual news, opinion and disinformation exist side-by-side in the media culture. How do we know who and what to believe?

News Literacy Now introduces a new way to "read" the news. Based on the intersection of media literacy, news literacy, information and web literacy skills, this hybrid strategy adapts the media literacy framework developed by the Center for Media Literacy to analyze the nature of news, explain professional journalism practices and standards, and apply lateral reading to verify facts and empower informed participation in democracy.

Written in a Q and A format from the news consumers’ perspective, the book asks and answers questions to think critically about our personal news experiences, the news-gathering process, and the vital roles journalism and the First Amendment play in a democracy. It connects key concepts with strategies to deconstruct misinformation and disinformation that have weaponized falsehoods and disrupted the flow of trustworthy news.

Challenged by a news credibility crisis, news media literacy has never mattered more. What we need are skills to think like a journalist and search like a fact-checker. Whether you are a media literacy expert or newbie to media and news literacy, this book is essential for everyone who uses media—teachers and students from middle and high school to higher ed, parents and grandparents, media and youth advocates, and anyone who cares about living in a world where facts matter.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • List of Illustrations
  • Acknowledgments
  • Dear Reader
  • How to Read This Book
  • 1 You and News
  • How Do We Get News Literate?
  • Five Questions to Ask Ourselves About News
  • Read the Research
  • 2 Why News Literacy Matters
  • Why Do We Need News Literacy Now?
  • How News Literate Are We? What the Research Says
  • Who Is a News Literate Person?
  • Where Do We Go From Here?
  • An Integrative News Media Literacy Framework
  • What’s Next?
  • 3 What Is News?
  • What Is the Purpose of News?
  • What Makes News Reliable?
  • What Is the Fourth Estate?
  • What Is the Fifth Estate?
  • What Is “Fake News”?
  • Ask the Right Questions: Purpose
  • 4 Who Writes the News?
  • Who Is a Journalist?
  • What Are the Different Types of Journalism?
  • If a Journalist Didn’t Write This, Then Who Did?
  • Ask the Right Questions: Authorship
  • 5 What Makes This Story Newsworthy?
  • Who Decides What Is News?
  • What Determines the Newsworthiness of a Story?
  • How Is a News Story Constructed?
  • What Are Journalism Story Techniques?
  • Ask the Right Questions: Format
  • 6 Do News Media Take Sides?
  • Is News Objective?
  • How Is the Story Framed?
  • Is the Story Fair, Balanced or Biased?
  • Where’s the Evidence?
  • Whose “Fault” Is It?
  • Do News Media Take Sides or Not?
  • Ask the Right Questions: Content
  • 7 Who Is Your Gatekeeper?
  • Who Sets the News Agenda?
  • How Might Different People Understand the Same News Story?
  • Who’s Caught in the “Spiral of Silence”?
  • Who Is the “Third Person”?
  • Who Believes “Fake News” —​ Me, You or Them?
  • Ask the Right Questions: Audience
  • 8 Digging Deeper
  • No More CRAAP!
  • How to Search Like a Fact-​Checker
  • How to Disrupt Disinformation
  • Now What?
  • A Final Word
  • A Few Resources
  • Types of Misinformation and Disinformation
  • Selected News and Media Literacy Resources

←xii | xiii→


The idea for this book was inspired by my students. Their generation is coming of age at a time when it is challenging to know who or what to believe. My hope is that they get into the habit of reading quality journalism and use their news literacy skills to “read” between the lines and become informed and involved citizens who value and protect democracy.

This is not a typical academic book. Thank you Patricia Mulrane Clayton at Peter Lang Group for seeing my vision, and Dani Green, my editor, and Jackie Pavlovic, production manager and quality champion, for helping to realize that vision.

Thank you to all my media literacy colleagues and especially:

Tessa Jolls and the Center for Media Literacy, you have been my backbone for media literacy. Thank you for being a friend and honoring the legacy of Elizabeth Thoman by continuing to make the Center a vital voice of the media literacy movement.

The National Association for Media Literacy Education, I am grateful to be part of a community that does the critical work to educate and advocate for media literacy education, and I am honored to serve on the Board of Directors to help guide its mission.

←xiii | xiv→

Jessi Hollis McCarthy at the Freedom Forum, thank you for being my passionate partner in brainstorming new ways to teach students to disrupt disinformation that threatens our democracy.

My appreciation for my colleagues in the Journalism Department at California State University, Northridge runs deep, especially Linda Bowen, who as Chair supported me developing a news literacy course that is the basis for this book.

A special thank you to Kathy Montgomery and Jeff Chester at the Center for Digital Democracy for your support and our impassioned discussions about media, politics, and life over the many years of our friendship.

I am fortunate to have an extraordinary group of friends and family members who are a constant support — thank you Madeline, Phil, Sue, George, Susan, Richard, my walking partner Linda, my sister Susan, and Loretta my lifeline.

There would be no book without the love and support of my family. Jonah and Kiva, I am forever grateful for the joy you bring and for being two of my biggest supporters, as well as my media literacy experiment when you were growing up. Randy, thank you for enriching our family and carrying on the tradition of media-literate parenting with Eyla. And Alan, the LOML, how do I say thank you to a unique human who is always there for me, makes me laugh, keeps me sane, and shares a life in which we mutually create a space to pursue our passions.

←xiv | 1→

Dear Reader

Real news. Fake news. Alternative facts. Post-truths. How do we know what is real or made up? How do we identify reliable and credible news? We are living in the Digital Age of Disinformation when it has become harder and harder to know who and what to believe. How we choose to get our news has never mattered more.

I am a media literacy educator and advocate. I have been teaching for more than three decades and have taught thousands of students, and facilitated workshops for just as many educators, parents, health practitioners, and media professionals. Whether I am teaching about media and diversity or gender or popular culture, my students learn media literacy skills. In my teacher in-service trainings, parent education and professional workshops, media literacy is emphasized as a life skill. I teach how to analyze media messages with a critical eye by asking questions about who created the message and why, the techniques used to construct the message and deconstruct its meaning, and how different people might interpret the message.

Then came the 2016 presidential election. That year the word post-truth was chosen by Oxford English Dictionary as the word-of-the-year because it spiked in frequency in mainstream media and became associated with the phrase post-truth politics. The term “fake news” was also popularized and added to the dictionary. ←1 | 2→Just when we were steeling ourselves for the 2020 presidential election year, we were hit with Covid-19. By April, news was overwhelmed with misinformation and disinformation about the global pandemic and Oxford English Dictionary lexicographers who track and analyze word usage began to release updates of new word entries: Covid-19, coronavirus, infodemic, self-isolate, self-quarantine, shelter in place, social distancing, superspreader, flatten the curve, PPE, staycation and more. By June, the Black Lives Matter movement was back in the national headlines after the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black Americans by police officers that led to protests against law enforcement agencies and a surge of social activism in the United States and around the world. Black Lives Matter and its abbreviation BLM exploded in usage and were added to the new word list.


XVI, 150
ISBN (Hardcover)
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2023 (June)
Journalism media literacy news literacy
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2023. XVI, 150 pp., 1 b/w ill., 10 color ill.

Biographical notes

Bobbie Eisenstock (Author)

Bobbie Eisenstock (Ph.D., USC Annenberg School for Communication) is a media literacy educator and advocate. Her teaching and research intersect media and news literacy with community-engaged learning to educate and empower students to use their voice for personal and social change. She serves on the Board of Directors of the National Association for Media Literacy Education and was honored with their Elizabeth Thoman Service Award for her contributions to the field. Among her other honors are the National Eating Disorders Association Award for Activism and Advocacy and the Visionary Community Service-Learning Award from California State University, Northridge where she teaches in the journalism department.


Title: News Literacy Now
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168 pages