Our content guidelines

At Newsela, our goal is to provide content that:

  • inspires students to be knowledgeable and active citizens

  • empowers educators with confidence that every choice they make is vetted, aligned to standards, and supports student engagement

To that end, we carry a great responsibility in maintaining transparency and accountability to educators, students, and parents. We maintain the highest standards to ensure trust and confidence in the content we deliver to schools and districts across the nation.

Content selection & leveling

Our editorial team considers the following criteria when selecting and leveling content:

  • Our content model takes authentic, real world content from over 100 established trusted partners and makes it instruction ready for K-12 classrooms. We select texts that represent a wide range of subjects, authors, and publications and span over 20 genres, including primary sources, news, reference materials, speeches, opinions, interviews, biographies, court opinions, narrative nonfiction, fiction, and myths, legends, and folktales.

  • Through the content leveling process, writers and editors adjust the text’s language and sentence structure and add supportive context in order to make the content accessible to students reading at a range of levels. The process is designed to enhance clarity for students and yield greater comprehension to improve learning outcomes. The meaning and intent of the original content is not altered. 

  • Content published on Newsela, including original and leveled versions of text, photos, photo captions, and instructional supports, are thoroughly vetted for accuracy and clearly attributed to their sources. 

  • In sourcing our content, we consider balance, objectivity, and tone and make deliberate decisions to avoid bias, the perception of bias, and the impact of bias.

  • We select content that will be engaging to students and provide ways for teachers to make connections to an academic topic or skill. Our content is intended to meet academic needs and align with state-specific education learning standards.

  • We select content that serves as mirrors and windows for Newsela’s diverse readership, teaching students about those different from themselves, and giving them opportunities to identify with people within the content.

  • When selecting content that deals with complex topics, we strive to explain and contextualize those complexities using simple, clear and accurate language.  

  • The content we select does not contain expletives, gratuitous sexual content, or graphic descriptions of violence, with the occasional exception of primary source content that is needed to meet an academic requirement. When any of the above appears in a primary source, we use an editor's note and a sensitivity label in order to appropriately caution teachers and students.

Audience considerations

  • When selecting and publishing content we are forever mindful that our readers are not yet mature adults. 

  • We use maturity bands to help teachers and students find content that’s developmentally appropriate, relevant, and engaging for a specific maturity and age group. We consider the conceptual difficulty, length, appropriateness, and potential sensitivity of content when selecting a maturity band.

  • We apply sensitivity labels to potentially sensitive or potentially sensitive content, to help teachers decide if content is suitable for use in their classrooms. These labels are applied to stories for which the headline and maturity rating are not applicable or are insufficient when it comes to providing teachers with the information they need to know before assigning content to their students. 

  • When publishing content about serious or tragic issues or events, we do so in a way that empowers and inspires students to be active leaders, rather than leaving them with a feeling of helplessness often associated with this type of content. 

  • No perspective presented on Newsela will make students feel attacked or marginalized. The language Newsela uses to describe or define social identity groups reflects the language chosen by those groups themselves.

  • We trust teachers to make instructional decisions based on what is best for their students, therefore we give them autonomy to hide any articles they do not want their students to read.

Anti-bias measures

When selecting, leveling and publishing content, our editorial team takes these anti-bias measures:

  • We clearly label the source of all content in the byline, and allow educators to search for particular sources to help them find content from specific publishers.

  • We use the Adfontes Media Bias Chart to actively seek predominantly centrist sources to ensure that our news content is balanced and impartial. 

  • We ensure that articles on political topics come from a diverse array of sources and that they collectively present multiple sides of an issue, logical arguments, and opinions by credible authorities. 

  • We clearly mark as “opinion” any and all opinion pieces, thought pieces, and expert analyses and advice, at every level and in all headlines, to ensure clarity and prevent confusion among readers. 

  • Our expansive library of Pro/Con articles gives students the opportunity to explore multiple perspectives on a variety of topics. 

  • We initiate extra rounds of fact-checking and editing on content about complex topics. 

  • We seek and publish content that supports media literacy and encourages students to do their own fact-checking and scans for bias.

Anti-racism measures

When selecting, leveling and publishing content, our editorial team follows these anti-racism guidelines:

  • We are cautious in story selection to not emphasize stereotypes about any ethnic, racial, religious or cultural group -- even stereotypes that are sometimes thought of as positive.

  • As of July 2020, we capitalize the “B” in the term Black and “I” in Indigenous when referring to a person’s race.

  • We use "enslaved" as an adjective, rather than "slave" as a noun, in order to separate a person's identity from their circumstance. 

  • We replace the term “slave” with the phrase “captive, enslaved person” in all instances.

  • We strive to “honor the humanity of the millions of people treated as chattel property by naming enslaved people whenever possible.” (P. Gabrielle Foreman, et al.)

  • When possible, we reference specific tribes and communities to highlight that Indigenous people are not a monolithic group.

Photography & images

  • Photography featured on Newsela serves as mirrors and windows for our diverse readership, teaching students about those different from themselves and giving them opportunities to identify with people within the content.

  • Photography featured in Newsela does not reinforce negative stereotypes or biases.