News literacy quiz questions


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Instructors typically prepare a short quiz to ensure students have carefully read and understand the terms and provisions contained in the syllabus. You may give the syllabus quiz in recitation during either the first or second week.


1) News satisfies three basic human needs. These are to ____________, ___________, and _________.

2) Marie Colvin was killed while reporting on the civil war in:

a) Libya

b) Syria

c) Egypt

d) Yemen

3) The organization that works to safeguard the well-being and safety of journalists is:

a) The Associated Press

b) The Committee on Public Information

c) The Committee to Protect Journalists

d) The Society of Professional Journalists

4) North America’s first newspaper, published in 1690, ran for:

a) one year

b) still being published

c) one hundred fifty years

d) one day

5) In 2004, Google briefly invested in a Chinese internet search engine named:

a) Weibo

b) WeChat

c) Baidu

d) Google Hong Kong

6) A January 2010 cyberattack from Chinese hackers prompted Google officials to:

a) Negotiate a new contract with the Chinese government

b) Shut down its Chinese search engine

c) End the practice of self-censorship of politically sensitive search results

d) Intensify self-censorship practices

7) Explain what Napoleon meant when he said, “Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets.”

8) Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and killed while working for:

a) Google News

b) The New York Times

c) The Washington Post

d) The Wall Street Journal

9) Newsday’s exposure of genocide helped end (eventually) the war in which country?

a) Rwanda

b) Bosnia

c) Serbia

d) Central African Republic

10) The “tankman” image portrays the aftermath of pro-democracy protests in:

a) Romania

b) Soviet Union

c) China

d) Indonesia


1) According to the Pew Research Center, the majority of Americans believe the news media has too much freedom:

a) True

b) False

2) The five freedoms outlined in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution are _________, _________, ___________, ___________, and ______________.

3) In its original form, freedom of the press referred to the United States’ professional news media:

a) True

b) False

4) Which of the following “Founding Fathers” imposed restrictions on press freedom during his tenure as president?

a) John Adams

b) Thomas Jefferson

c) James Madison

d) Benjamin Franklin

5) The modern definition of freedom of the press was promulgated in:

a) Miller v. California

b) Roe v. Wade

c) Near v. Minnesota

d) Loving v. Virginia

6) The legal framework surrounding the obscenity exception to no prior restraint is rooted in:

a) state law

b) Congressional statute

c) community standards

b) English common law

7) Explain the concept of privilege as it pertains to libel suits:

8) The national security exception to no prior restraint has been successfully invoked:

a) one time

b) twice

3) seven times

4) never

9) Following his NSA disclosures, Edward Snowden received asylum in:

a) Hong Kong

b) China

c) Ecuador

d) Russia

10) A reporter from which newspaper had advance knowledge of the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion:

a) Los Angeles Times

b) New York Times

c) Boston Globe

d) New York Daily News


1) A “video news release” typically contains:

a) authoritative, factual news reporting

b) the opinions of experts

c) advertising

d) sports reporting

2) A “taxonomy” is:

a) a system of classification

b) a Mexican state

c) surgical procedure

d) colonial-era form of journalism

3) Articulate the key difference between advertising and publicity:

4) Provide an example of raw information, and explain how that particular example is raw information, and not something else.

5) The three elements that make a piece of information journalism are ____________, ________________, and ___________________.

6) The YouTube video entitled “My Iraq Music Video” falls within the _______________________ category.

7) Identify and explain at least one flaw in the CNN report on the aftermath of the Kabul terror attack.

8) Explain one reason why it is important for journalism to contain the elements referenced in question five:

9) You are on the subway and notice an anti-smoking poster produced by the New York City Department of Health. Which information neighborhood does this poster belong in?

a) Advertising

b) Publicity

c) Propaganda

d) Journalism

10) You are on the bus and use your phone to record a video of a woman shaving a cat while riding the bus. Later on, you post this video to your social media account. What type of information is the video?

a) Entertainment

b) Raw information

c) Journalism

d) Publicity


1) The July 2014 shootdown of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in Ukraine satisfies which three news drivers?

a) Magnitude, Prominence, and Proximity

b) Importance, Magnitude, and Conflict

c) Human Interest, Conflict, and Change

d) Timeliness, Unusualness, and Relevance

2) The prominence news driver typically involves stories related to:

a) advances in scientific research

b) celebrities and well-known public figures

c) the passage of new laws

d) military confrontation

3) The death toll from the March 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami highlights which news driver?

a) Importance

b) Magnitude

c) Relevance

d) Human interest

4) News organization editors seek to balance what is ________________ versus what is deemed _______________.

5) People magazine is an example of a news publication that emphasizes:

a) its readers’ needs

b) its readers’ wants

6) Editorial judgment within news organizations is subject to a set of professional standards adhered to by all journalists:

a) True

b) False

7) Consumption is the only way the public (audience) may influence editorial judgment:

a) True

b) False

8) Any work labeled as journalism must contain ___________________, __________________, and __________________.

9) The August 2014 death of comedian Robin Williams satisfies which of the following news drivers:

a) Change

b) Conflict

c) Human Interest

d) Magnitude

10) Identify and explain an example of a news story that would satisfy the importance news driver.


Because the first exam is scheduled during recitation in Week 6, instructors typically do not schedule a quiz this week.


  1. Which of the following is an example of media bias?

    1. A persistent pattern of reporting "black-on-white" violence more often and more prominently than "black-on-black" violence

    2. An Op-Ed page that is dominated by liberal columnists

    3. A newspaper's decision to cover a gay-pride parade rather than an NRA convention

    4. A television reporter mistakenly labels a protester as an "antichrist" though he identified himself as an "anarchist"

(answer: a)

  1. How can a news consumer spot bias?

    1. Avoid using inferences

    2. Look for consistent patterns of unfairness

    3. Be aware of one’s own preconceptions

    4. All of the above

(answer: d)

  1. The Verification Process in Journalism involves two main steps:

    1. searching for evidence and third party commentary

    2. evaluating sources and third party commentary

    3. searching for evidence and evaluating sources

(answer: c)

  1. According to Newsday, racial identification is used . . .

    1. All the Time

    2. None of the Time

    3. Only when it is relevant to the story

    4. Only when there are no photographs of the news story

(answer: c)
  1. What is a marker of fairness in journalism?

    1. Free newspapers

    2. Journalists who uncover corrupt politicians

    3. Stories that cover all of the relevant sides of the issue

    4. A motto like “Fair and Balanced”

(answer: c)

  1. The sleeper effect is:

    1. A tendency in people to disassociate messages from their sources

    2. A tendency in people to pursue information that reflects their point of view

    3. A strong pressure to conform to popular opinion

    4. The unconscious biases that a reader brings to a story

(answer: a)

  1. A fair article:

    1. Gives all arguments equal weight

    2. Gives context

    3. Relies on the journalist to weigh the evidence

    4. Relies on government sources

(answer: b)

  1. is a simple test that determines what?

    1. Hidden biases

    2. Awareness to current events

    3. IQ

    4. Psychological Disorders

(answer: a)

  1. Is journalistic objectivity possible?

    1. Yes, reporters simply need to become neutral and objective witnesses by eliminating their own predjudice

    2. No, reporters will never eliminate their own biases

    3. Yes, objectivity is about the process of the journalistic system rather than individual people

    4. No, no matter how objectively a story is covered, some consumers will always accuse them of bias

(answer: c)

  1. Which of the following is NOT a sign of a failure to be fair on the part of the media?

    1. Attributing more weight to the opinions of so-called "experts"
    2. Neglecting to contact the subject of a story to allow them to respond to negative charges

    3. Using unflattering or stereotypical images to portray a subject a certain way

    4. Presenting quotes representing one side of a controversial debate prominently, while "burying" quotes representing the other side

(answer: a)

  1. Does "fairness" require that equal time/space be given to both sides of an issue in every news story?

    1. Yes, because only hearing one side of the story creates a journalistic bias

    2. No, because journalists and consumers should accept the fact that all of us, journalists included, has our own biases

    3. Yes, because we need to be reminded that there are many "truths" out there

    4. No, because a journalist has a responsibility to be fair to the evidence, which may favor one side of a disputed issue

(answer: d)

  1. Which of the following is not an occasion in which the reporter should provide balance to an article?

    1. In a dispute between two sides where there is conflicting evidence

    2. When there is a conflict between parties with conflicting points of view

    3. When there is no commonly accepted evidence to suggest one side of a conflict is right

    4. When there is commonly accepted evidence to suggest one side of a conflict is right

(answer: d)

1) A journalist’s first obligation is to:

a) Satisfy the audience

b) Earn profits

c) The truth

d) Root out corruption

2) The process of justifying a truth claim with evidence is called:

a) journalism

b) accountability

c) verification

d) independence

3) Submitting one’s work for critical analysis by experts is known as _______________________.

4) Because the truth changes over time, journalistic truth is:

a) irrefutable

b) provisional

c) pseudo-scientific

d) rational
5) Identify and explain one piece of direct evidence from the July 2014 shootdown of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in Ukraine:
6) Identify and explain one piece of indirect evidence from the July 2014 shootdown of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in Ukraine:
7) If Brian Thevenot had opened the freezer at the New Orleans Convention Center during Hurricane Katrina, what would he have found?

a) dead bodies

b) nothing

c) frozen food

d) medical supplies
8) Discuss one reason why the process of verification sometimes breaks down:
9) Brian Thevenot wrote his original 2005 story based on:

a) direct evidence from National Guardsmen

b) indirect evidence from National Guardsmen

c) direct evidence from residents trapped in the Convention Center

d) indirect evidence from residents trapped in the Convention Center
10) There is no difference between the methods by which journalists and scientists search for the truth:

a) True

b) False

1) A news source is:

a) a news gathering organization, such as CNN

b) an individual interviewed for a news story

c) a trove of documents used to construct a news story

d) a reporter working for a news organization

2) A news outlet is:

a) a news gathering organization, such as CNN

b) an individual interviewed for a news story

c) a trove of documents used to construct a news story

d) a reporter working for a news organization

3) You read a story about the death of Robin Williams where his wife is interviewed. Would you label her an independent or self-interested source? Explain.
4) Explain why multiple sources in a news story are always better than a single source.
5) In the course of the interview, Robin Williams’ wife states, “He was a good man.” Is this an example of verification or assertion? Explain.
6) When considering the same interview with Robin Williams’ wife, would you consider her an authoritative source, an informed source, or uninformed? Explain.
7) When evaluating anonymous sources, a skillful news consumer looks for _________________, _______________, and ___________________.
8) From the Anderson Cooper reading: Evaluate the hotel manager, Ananda de Silva, using the IMVAIN source evaluation criteria, and explain his reliability as a source as being either reliable, slightly reliable, or unreliable.
9) Did Anderson Cooper open the freezer? Explain.
10) Identify one piece of direct evidence and one piece of indirect evidence Cooper obtained during his search for the children.


1) There is a car accident on Nicolls Road. Within Newsday’s coverage of the event, the reporter informs readers that in the past 15 years, there have been 189 car crashes on the same stretch of road. That piece of information is known as:

a) context

b) transparency

c) verification

d) direct evidence
2) Within the same news report on the Nicolls Road car accident, you see the reporter write, “Attempts to reach the drivers’ families were unsuccessful.” This is an example of:

a) context

b) transparency

c) verification

d) direct evidence

3) Skillful news consumers deconstruct news stories to determine whether the information within the stories is:

a) entertaining

b) interesting

c) verified

d) actionable

4) Information contained within a news story that reveals the reporter’s process of gathering and weighing evidence is known as:

a) context

b) transparency

c) verification

d) accountability
5) The section of a news story that summarizes the story’s main point(s) is known as the:

a) headline

b) context

c) lead

d) transparency

Because the second exam is scheduled during recitation in Week 11, instructors typically do not schedule a quiz this week.


1) The New York Post incorrectly identified two young men as suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing based on evidence gathered from:

a) CNN

b) Fox News

c) Reddit

d) Newsvine
2) is a website operated by:

a) The American Historical Association

b) Stormfront, a white supremacist organization

c) The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site

d) The Democratic Party
3) When performing research online, it is important to remember that rank equals reliability.

a) True

b) False
4) Looking at a website’s “About Us” page is a key step in determining whether the site’s creators have adhered to:

a) verification

b) independence

c) accountability

d) corroboration
5) Twitter verifies the authenticity of celebrity user accounts by:

a) charging celebrity users monthly fees

b) deleting fraudulent accounts

c) placing a blue check mark near the user’s name

d) placing a green check mark near the user’s name


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