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Lesson Plans

The Black and White of News Reporting

Francis Montgomery of Wilkinson County High School in Woodville, Miss.

Francis L. Montgomery
Wilkinson County High School
Woodville, Miss.

Title: The Black and White of News Reporting

Mississippi State Standards

Mississippi standards may be found at www.mde.k12.ms.us.

Introduction to Journalism

2. Develop skills in evaluating journalistic reports (R, W, S, L, V

a. Differentiate between fact and opinion
b. Detect inaccuracies and bias in news coverage

3. Develop journalistic writing skills (R, W, S, L, V)

a. Identify news, elements of news, news sources, and beats.

a. Develop techniques in researching and “backgrounding” written reports
b. Present facts without editorializing
c. Write effective leads
d. Identify the five W’s (who, what, when, where, why, or how) of news writing.
e. Identify and write the basic inverted pyramid structure of a news story

5. Understand the role of advertising (R, W, S, L,V).

a. Recognize the role of advertising in the communications media.
b. Develop techniques in designing advertising

Generative Topics

  • Biases and inaccuracies in news reports and advertisements
  • Consideration of changes in news coverage since the ’60s
  • Impact of biases in advertisements Generative Objects
  • Various news clips, videos, or other headlines from newspapers or television involving ones such as O.J. Simpson, Timothy McVeigh, Rodney King, President Clinton, Monica Lewinsky, Oprah Winfrey (Mad Cow Incident), and commonly aired advertisements.

Understanding Goals

  • Essential Questions
    • What is bias? How can you recognize it?
    • What purposes do biases and inaccuracies serve in news coverage?
    • What are the reactions/results of biases and inaccuracies in news coverage?
    • In comparing today’s news coverage to how it used to be in the ’60s, how has it changed?
    • What is the difference between news coverage and advertisements?
  • Critical Engagement Questions
    • What are some of the most common biases and inaccuracies in news coverage?
    • Is there a pattern to the biases and inaccuracies and if so, what are they?
    • How are people affected by biases and inaccurate news coverage?
    • What changes have you seen in news coverage in your lifetime?
    • What is the difference between news coverage and advertisements?
    • Do you believe certain biases are acceptable in advertisements that are not acceptable in news coverage? Explain.
    • Why do you believe advertisers use different tactics for different audiences?
    • Do you believe advertisements are effective in targeting different audiences? If so, why and how so?
    • What can you do as a consumer to end biases and inaccuracies in news coverage and advertisements?

Rationale and timeline

Advertisements remain to be one of the primary tools used by businesses to sell products and create revenue for their companies. This lesson will explore the power of advertisements and the students will identify their role as consumers. It will teach students to look objectively at advertisements and to examine the various objectives/purposes of them. Additionally, people generally see themselves through the eyes of others, and news coverage that portrays blacks and whites in different lights tend to reinforce those self-images, regardless if those images are negative or positive. Students will also review contradictions portrayed in the news and advertisements. They will create their own news articles and advertisements. The activities for this lesson should last from 7-10 days which allows students ample time to research information, discuss findings, and create displays.


Activity 1

  • Students will use newspapers, magazines, and catalogs to gather examples of biases and inaccuracies and differentiate between positive and negative images of blacks and whites.
  • They will create displays comparing their findings to Entman’s grid and statistics.
  • They will write a comparative essay using the information.

Activity 2

  • Students will use facts provided by the teacher to write their own news article about black on black crime.
  • The students may embellish the article by only creating sources and quoting the sources. They must include all the facts in the article.

Activity 3

  • Students will compare the news article they created.
  • They will have to answer questions from their classmates based on why they chose to magnify certain facts while diminishing others.
  • They will also have to predict audience reactions to their articles.

Activity 4

  • Students will identify articles that contain biases or inaccuracies.
  • They will rewrite the articles that contain biases and inaccuracies.

Activity 5

  • Students will review advertisements for biases and inaccuracies.
  • They will count the number of blacks, whites, and others in advertisement.
  • They will discuss what is being advertised and see why the advertiser is presenting certain images.

Activity 6

  • Using magazines, students will identify various political candidates of different races.
  • They will identify at least two issues on the candidate’s platform. They will write a paper discussing how the issues relate to the candidates’ races and compare how the issues are presented or advertised.

Activity 7

  • Students will record advertisements shown during the time they watch television the most.
  • They will discuss the television’s decision to air the ad during this particular time and the expected audience.
  • They will also discuss their feelings after watching the ad – for example, after seeing the ad, did they want to go out and buy the product?


(Assessments are imbedded within each activity. The final product will be graded using a rubrics).

  • Discussion
  • Observation
  • Student’s news articles
  • Surveys
  • Displays

Resources Recommended

Various news clips, videos, or other headlines from newspapers or television on foreign issues reported in the U.S. and outside of the U.S.

This lesson plan was published in The Media and Democracy Curriculum Compendium 2003, Barrett and Greyser editors, publishedby Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

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