Day 2: Identifying standards-based journalism

Practicing Quality Journalism lesson cover art

Learn the standards

In this foundational lesson from NLP's Checkology® virtual classroom, you'll learn seven standards of quality journalism by taking on the role of a rookie reporter covering a breaking news event. NOTE: Use a computer or tablet to access these lessons; they are not designed for phones.

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Additional resources

Further reading

Stay current on debates and discussions about journalism standards by following the work of journalism scholars, media critics and analysts, and ombudsmen and public editors, such as:

In addition, Columbia Journalism Review has named public editors to examine coverage in The New York TimesThe Washington PostCNN and MSNBC.

Practicing Quality Journalism challenge cover art

How newsrooms work

Now that you've learned the standards of quality journalism, take this challenge that tests your understanding of how these standards affect the way that newsrooms work.

Educator Extra:

Blending tips and strategies 

Consider front-loading this lesson with a short reflection about the standards and practices that students think journalists and news organizations should follow.

Prompts for discussion

  • What standards and practices should journalists follow to ensure that the information they report is credible?
  • What types of sources are used for news reports?
  • Why are documents so important to the practice of quality journalism?
  • Why do different kinds of news reports require different kinds of sources?
  • Why do news organizations have strict policies about the use of anonymous sources? When might it be necessary to keep a source anonymous? Should the government ever be able to force journalists to reveal the names of their anonymous sources?

Go deeper

Contact a local news organization (or more than one) and ask if it would share its standards and ethics policies with your students — whether by email, during a videoconference or as part of a field trip. If that’s not possible, work with students to construct one or more hypothetical scenarios that would be challenging for journalists and would require the guidance of such standards, and ask a local journalist (ideally a standards editor, if there is one) if he or she would visit the classroom to discuss them, either virtually or in person.

Some things to consider: What if documents are emailed anonymously? What if a journalist’s family member was connected to a possible story? Do news outlets have standards or policies governing what journalists can post to their personal social media accounts? Are there standards or policies governing how journalists can use social media in their reporting? What might happen if the parent company of a news organization is involved in a scandal?

Take informed action

Ask students to select a topic that is important to them; then create a collection of recent news reports about that topic from a variety of news outlets. (We suggest you set the number of news reports they collect at five.) Next, have students give each news report they selected a score (for example, from 1 to 10, with an NA (not available) option when necessary) for each of the standards they learned about in this lesson.

Keeping these scores confidential, have students trade collections with classmates who selected a different topic and ask them to complete the same ranking process. When students have finished ranking, have them compare rankings for each story and discuss the differences. At the conclusion of this activity, you might have students share a “best and worst” from their collections and ask if they would like to contact the news organization or journalists in some way.


Want more?

Test your news literacy know-how with our free app, Informable. Score points for accuracy and speed across four modes, each with three levels of difficulty.