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beat: A reporter’s assigned area of responsibility. A beat may be an institution, such as the courthouse; a geographical area, such as a small town; or a subject, such as science. The term also refers to an exclusive story. News Reporting & Writing (Eighth Edition) by the Missouri Group. Copyright 2005. Reproduced by permission of Bedford/St. Martins.

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Jennifer Gockel
English teacher
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Lesson Plans

Becoming an Informed Consumer of Print Journalism




Becoming an Informed Consumer of Print Journalism

Jennifer Gockel of Connetquot High School in New Bohemia, N.Y.

Jennifer Gockel
Connetquot High School
Bohemia, N.Y.

Title: Becoming An Informed Consumer of Print Journalism

Long Term Objective

Students will be able to critically evaluate a newspaper for accuracy, credibility, and bias as well as determine a newspaper’s target audience. The purpose of the critical analysis is for students to have an understanding of the types of newspapers available to them so that they can make informed decisions about where to go for different types of information.

Lesson Duration

Two to two and one-half days.

Assignment

Following a class discussion, students will work in groups to evaluate various area newspapers for accuracy, credibility, and bias and to determine the newspaper’s target audience. Students will then present their findings to the rest of the class.

Step One:

  • Display all publication and hold a class discussion on the purposes and target audience of each.
  • Explain to the importance of knowing where to go for reliable information as well as knowing which types of print media to go to for different information.
  • Ask students about what types of articles they would expect to find in each publication (also, which might be prone to sensationalism, which they think would be most accurate, etc.).

Step Two:

  • Tell students they will be working in groups to analyze a newspaper for accuracy, credibility and bias.
  • Ask students what criteria they will use to evaluate the newspapers. Hopefully, they will come up with things such as named, “credible” sources, equal number of quotes, from the various sides of the issue, accurate headlines, etc.
  • Put class-generated list of criteria on the board.

Step Three:

  • Tell students they will have (at least 40) minutes to evaluate a newspaper as a group and report back to the class with their findings. Also, the group should report their overall impressions of the paper (tell them to pay attention to things such as the number and size of photos, the number of wire stories, etc.).

Step Four:

  • Create groups (four to five total) and have each group evaluate one of the following types of papers. You might want to have a few copies of each so the groups aren’t crowded around only one paper.
    • The most popular local daily newspaper
    • Available regional daily newspapers
    • Closest major metro newspaper (such as the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Dallas Morning News, The Washington Post, Newsday, Houston Chronicle, San Francisco Chronicle, The Boston Globe, The Arizona Republic, etc.)
    • USA Today, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal

Step Five:

  • Starting with the most popular local daily newspaper, have the groups display the newspaper they evaluated and present their findings.

Step Six:

  • (After all of the groups have presented.) As a class, discuss the similarities and differences between the newspapers as well as whether or not their expectations of each publication were met.

Step Seven:

  • Reiterate the criteria for evaluating print media and importance of being able to discern credible information and knowing where to look for different types of information.

Materials/ Resources:

Make sure all publications are from the same day/ week.

  • The most popular local daily newspaper
  • Available regional daily newspapers
  • Closest major metro newspaper (such as the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Dallas Morning News, The Washington Post, Newsday, Houston Chronicle, San Francisco Chronicle, The Boston Globe, The Arizona Republic, etc.)
  • National dailies: USA Today, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal
  • A news magazine (such as Newsweek or Time)

 



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