Why the 5 Factors of News Literacy Matter 
Posted by Laura McLoughlin on January 23, 2023 in categoryNew Readers PresscategoryFacts & ResearchcategoryNewscategoryMember Tips

Have you heard the one about Buffalo Bills’ safety Damar Hamlin collapsing on the field January 2 and suffering a cardiac arrest because of a COVID-19 vaccine?  

Or what about the Vatican disinviting President Joe Biden from the funeral of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI? 

Using five simple factors, News Literacy Project’s Rumor Guard proved both claims to be false. 

This week is National News Literacy Week. The News Literacy Project, along with the E.W. Scripps Company, presents the event annually to “underscore the vital role of news literacy in a democracy and provide audiences with the knowledge, tools and abilities to become more news-literate.” 

With the media landscape constantly evolving, and as it’s becoming easier for misinformation to be created and spread, news literacy is more important than ever. The nonprofit organization and some of its partners like Senior Planet from AARP and the National Institute for Civil Discourse started to see a need to teach adults the basics of news literacy. What resulted was News Literacy Project’s Rumor Guard. 

Alee Quick, civic marketing manager at News Literacy Project, said Rumor Guard takes the stories or rumors that are going viral across the web—like the ones about Damar Hamlin and Joe Biden—and uses five factors of credibility to analyze whether the stories are true. The five factors are baked into every story on Rumor Guard, so users learn actionable news literacy skills that become second nature.  

“In order for a democracy to function we have to start from a place of facts. And if it’s harder for adults to understand what information is reliable about an election or health and wellness, then we need to start from a place of facts if we’re going to move forward,” Quick said. 

So, what are the five factors Rumor Guard puts information up against? 

Authenticity: Has what you’re seeing been doctored or fabricated in any way or is it genuine? 

Source: Has it been posted or confirmed by a credible source? 

Evidence: Is there sound evidence to verify the claim? 

Context: Has a quote, photo, video, data, or news report been taken out of its original context to create a new false claim? 

Reasoning: Is the claim logical and rational? 

“At News Literacy Project we don’t want to tell people what to think, we want to help people understand how to think about media. [We want them to] be more discerning and have these skills so that when they are [talking to friends] or see social media they can go, ‘hmm, that makes my Spidey-sense tingle, and I know because I read on Rumor Guard that something similar was not posted by a reliable source, and this is how I can determine whether something is reliable or not,’” Quick said. 

It's also important to remember that while these skills help weed out the misinformation and fake news, it’s equally important to use them to find reliable news sources that can be trusted to find important information. It gives someone the power to know something is true, not because someone told them, but because they have the actual skills to determine credibility, Quick said.  


Take part in News Literacy Week: 

In addition to Rumor Guard, News Literacy Project has a resource library filled with useful tips and classroom activities. While many are geared toward K-12 classrooms, they can be adapted to use in the adult education classroom. Learn more: 

News Literacy Project and Scripps are hosting events every day this week. Check them out and join in:  

News Literacy Project has created several useful infographics: 

The New Readers Press weekly newspaper News for You publishes news from trusted sources written between levels 3–6. For National News Literacy Week, News for You Online has made some of its stories related to news literacy available for free at 

Find News for You’s Teacher’s Tips related to news literacy at:  

For Spanish speakers, Factchequeado is a good resource to counter dis- and misinformation:




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