The digital age has surfaced more information than ever before. Today, individuals must be able to recognize when information is true or false and understand how to locate, accurately evaluate, effectively use and clearly communicate information in various formats. This is called information literacy, and it’s a skill that may be acquired

According to Renee Hobbs, Professor, Harrington School of Communication and Media at the University of Rhode Island, “few people verify the information they find online ― both adults and children tend to uncritically trust information they find, from whatever source.” People need to judge the credibility of information and, according to Hobbs, they can do this by answering three basic questions:

1. Who is the author?
2. What is the purpose of this message?
3. How was this message constructed?

These questions enable an individual to better assess the credibility of a media message and encourage people to check the facts. As credibility becomes more of an issue, a variety of organizations are focusing on information and media literacy.

Few people verify the information they find online—both adults and children tend to uncritically trust information they find, from whatever source.

A pilot program for teaching information and media literacy is under development at the American Library Association Public Program’s Office with the Center for News Literacy at Stony Brook University’s School of Journalism to train public library professionals how to teach information literacy to adults. The program will develop media literacy instruction and all related resources for a one-year pilot with five selected US public libraries.’

The Center for Media and Literacy (CML) is also concerned with educating students about information and media literacy. Founded in 1989, CML posts on its site the 1992 Aspen Media Literacy Leadership Institute’s definition for Media Literacy as “the ability to access, analyze, evaluate and create media in a variety of forms.” For information on incorporating media literacy in the classroom, see the CML Media Lit Kit.

Lastly, for the National Association for Media Literacy Education, education is key and is at the heart of the organization’s mission. Executive Director Michelle Ciulla Lipkin stresses the need for people to understand the difference between researched journalism, opinion and commentary. Media outlets, she says, must be clear about these differences. From the same article, Information Today staff writer Jonathan Lai spoke with several college professors who teach media literacy. They all are in consensus that the time is past due to make media literacy and critical thought a cornerstone of education.

Information and media literacy are essential because of how we consume information and the amount of incoming information available to us. For more teachable moments on information literacy, watch the LearningExpress-sponsored webinar, Information & Media Literacy: Skills Needed in Today’s World: