API report calls for journalists’ help in improving “news fluency”

American Press Institute

Journalists can change the way they build stories to create organic news fluency, ​say ​American Press Institute’s Tom Rosenstiel and Jane Elizabeth. ​We agree, of course — ​and applaud​ the way they’ve used “news fluency” as an alternative terminology to news literacy. Whereas literacy implies something one can or can’t do, ​news fluency describes how news users are always learning how to better understand and interact with news. ​Importantly, the authors argue that journalists must help ​communities increase news fluency. It is not enough to find and share facts -​- ​​in the digital age, ​it is a professional imperative for journalists to explain how the news was reported.

Rosenstiel and Elizabeth offer a number of suggestions for how news organizations can “build their journalism differently.” Chief among them are knowing their communities well enough to anticipate questions people ​will have about how a story was reported, and moving toward a “show me” method of journalism. These efforts, the authors argue, will not just ​allow news users to continuously become more news​ fluent ​but also ​elevate the quality of the journalism and build bridges between journalists and their audience.

​API is a major force in the U.S. news industry. Its thinking is an important step in improving the public’s understanding and opinion of the news​. It ​acknowledges that responsibility lies with both the supply and demand side of the equation.

The News Co/Lab has been a proponent of making news literacy a part of a newsroom’s mission, and has recognized a number of organizations that have achieved measurable success in endeavors that help people better understand how the news works.

We are currently partnering with three McClatchy newsrooms to experiment with projects aimed at increasing transparency and trust — and to measure the results of our efforts so that we may replicate and scale them to other newsrooms.

​Without the help of influential groups such as API, however, these efforts won’t spread. We are proud ​to be in the company of thought leaders ​with practical ideas about​ improv​ing the health of our information ecosystems.

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