I’m not sure what “news literacy” is supposed to be. Is it a way for traditional media to stay in the game?

The Robert R. McCormick Foundation—now separate from but historically entwined with the Tribune Company—just announced that it’s giving away $6 million over the next three years on a campaign “to expand innovative approaches to improving news literacy.” The campaign’s called “Why News Matters.” The first $1 million in grants have been awarded. They’ll fund news literacy programs in various Chicago-area schools and colleges.

“‘Why News Matters’ grantees will bring an entrepreneurial and collaborative spirit as we expand the reach and impact of news literacy,” said the foundation’s president, David Hiller, who formerly was publisher of the Tribune and the Los Angeles Times. “Together, we can foster a healthy, 21st Century democracy grounded in a free press and informed, active citizenry.”

There was a time when if the free press didn’t tell us we didn’t know it, and that was a problem, as the free press didn’t always get around to telling us some things and didn’t want to tell us others. “News literacy” is a way of saying that the problem today is altogether different. “With today’s explosion of media content,” said the foundation as it announced its new initiative, “news consumers of all ages are often overwhelmed with information.”