News Literacy and Democracy: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

News Literacy and Democracy

1st Edition

By Seth Ashley


240 pages

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Paperback: 9781138625068
pub: 2019-11-01
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Calls for news literacy have surged in recent months. As misinformation and "fake news" swirl around the internet, news literacy is viewed by many as the antidote. Indeed, the ability to analyze news content is vital to preserving democratic practices. In this introductory text, Ashley argues for the importance of news literacy to democratic life and advances an evidence-based argument that critical contexts regarding news media structures and institutions should be central to news literacy education. In addition to explaining concepts and policies, case studies and examples from the contemporary and historical news environment are used to illustrate the concepts.


"Seth Ashley's book on news literacy provides a refreshing, original and long overdue treatment of the matter, making media literacy a vibrant political and intellectual issue for our times."

Robert W. McChesney, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

"In News Literacy and Democracy, Seth Ashley offers a refreshing holistic approach to news literacy that goes far beyond so-called "fake news" and one that is deeply aligned with the key concepts of media literacy. This book provides a rich knowledge base to help people understand how the news is constructed and why it has become more sensational and more partisan over time. Timely and responsive to the current media environment, this book helps people understand how changing business models for journalism are influencing the depiction of news and current events that we encounter online. This book should be required reading for every citizen as they reflect upon and consider what new forms of media policy and regulation may be needed to ensure that journalism can fulfill its social obligations in sustaining the democratic process."

Renee Hobbs, University of Rhode Island

"With great care and clarity, Seth Ashley maps out key challenges facing our society today, from the decline of journalism to the rise of misinformation. In doing so, he underscores the need for a critical approach to news literacy that considers contextual factors such as market fundamentalism and monopoly power. This timely and invaluable book should be required reading for anyone who is concerned about the future of democracy."

Victor Pickard, University of Pennsylvania

"In a time of increasing distrust in civic institutions, and specifically the news industry, Seth Ashley provides a poignant look at the challenges to our contemporary news ecosystem. Ashley's critical insight shows an understanding of the impacts of digital technologies on our news industries, and also explores some of the potential ways that citizens can become meaningfully engaged in news processes. Seth Ashley has provided a text that is necessary reading for those interested in the future of vibrant, diverse, and equitable democracy."

Paul Mihailidis, Emerson College

"Pulling from media sociology, political science, social psychology, and other fields, this book distills rich theoretical concepts and wide-ranging empirical findings into clear and helpful insights. In the process, Seth Ashley expands the scope of what news literacy is and what it can do for democratic life."

Tim P. Vos, Michigan State University

"Ashley provides a timely, engaging discussion of the need for critical news literacy in contemporary democracies. He brings a nuanced and historical perspective to modern problems and avoids hyperbole surrounding "fake news." This book is perfect for students and others looking to understand news literacy and its applicability to our lives."

Melissa Tully, University of Iowa

Table of Contents

PART I: Why News Literacy? 1. What is news literacy? Content and context 2. What citizens know about the news and why it matters PART II: Critical Contexts 3.The decline of journalism and the rise of "fake news" 4. The structure of news media systems 5. The political economy of the internet 6. Human psychology and the audience problem PART III: The Future of News Literacy 7. The uncritical public 8. News literacy and social capital: Getting people to care

About the Author

Seth Ashley, PhD, is associate professor of journalism and media studies at Boise State University. His research on media literacy, media sociology, and communication policy has been published in a range of scholarly outlets, including the Journal of Media Literacy Education; Communication Law and Policy; Journalism & Mass Communication Educator; Communication and the Public; Media, War & Conflict; and Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media. Ashley received his PhD and MA from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. He has worked as a writer and editor for newspapers and magazines and as a designer and technician for film, theater, and music.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Media Studies