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Accountability in journalism: What does it mean for student journalists?

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Part of  JEA’s Scholastic Press Rights Commission’s Constitution Day lessons and activity package:

LESSON PLAN: Quick hits: questions for online discussion, inclusion in staff policies: The buzzword accountability. What does it mean?

In this lesson, students will discuss three questions:
• For what should journalists (commercial and scholastic) be accountable?
• How do we define accountable?
• How can we convince others this is the best definition?

The discussion will lead toward the development of positions and process for a staff manual

Summative evaluation tool: Student created product

Primary Common Core: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.11-12.5b

Secondary Common Core Standard(s) Addressed: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.4

21st Century Skills Incorporated: Critical thinking, collaboration

Supplies, Technology, Other Materials Needed: Handouts, software for desktop publishing (online or computer installed), examples of magazines, yearbooks and newspapers

Length of the Lesson: 45 minutes

Evaluation tools:

Appropriate for Grades: 9-12

Created by: John Bowen, MJE

Brief description of lesson:
In answering the questions, students will read this online article:
• Trustworthy journalism in a fact-checking-free world
http://craigconnects.org/2013/07/trustworthy-journalism-in-a-fact-checking-free-world.html#.UfGLjCOf7EM.twitter 

They will also note this question from the article as a focal point of their work:
“Any news outlet that wants to succeed must be trustworthy, that is, accountable.”

Lesson details:
Break students into small groups and have the students discuss these questions:
• How would you define responsibility in terms of scholastic journalism?
• For what journalists be accountable?
• How should journalists define accountability?
• How should scholastic journalists define accountability?

The whole class will discussion each group’s definitions and positions and work to reach agreement.

As they do this, they will develop a position statement and  a process to express the position for their staff manual.

Hints for points they could raise:
–relevance
–context
–perspective
–attribution
–ethics
–attribution
–accuracy
–truth
–facts
–diverse views
–complete
–thorough
–coherent

 

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