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What happens when a journalist
gets it wrong?

Posted by on Aug 29, 2017 in Blog, Lessons, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

by Jeff Kocur

Title

What happens when a journalist gets it wrong?

Description

Inaccurate reporting is not the same as fake news, but it can carry the same consequence. What are the forces at play that compel journalists to strive for accuracy? How do media organizations stay accountable for the work of their journalists? What happens when a journalist makes a mistake, and what happens when a media outlet loses the trust of its audience and/or advertisers.

Objectives

  • Students will understand free market forces which drive media outlets to strive for accuracy.
  • Students will become familiar with the consequences of inaccurate reporting.
  • Students will research an incident of inaccurate reporting including the responses from the culpable media organization afterward.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem.
 

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.11-12.1

Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11-12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.11-12.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence, conveying a clear and distinct perspective, such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning, alternative or opposing perspectives are addressed, and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and a range of formal and informal tasks.

 

Length

50 minutes

Materials / resources

Story on CNN reporter resignations

Exit ticket (below)

Lesson step-by-step

  1. Read the attached article as a jump-in reading activity, and have students discuss the following question as a think-pair-share. (15 minutes)

After the information was deemed unreliable, what steps did CNN take to show they

were not purposefully peddling fake news?

  1. After a brief discussion, share that the CNN incident is not by any means the first time a

news organization has been exposed for stories that were inaccurate or blatantly untrue.

         (30 minutes).

Ask the students if they know of any off the top of their heads?

Place your students in groups of four, and share the attached Disgraced journalists slideshow(see the slideshow below) with them. Each group will choose one journalist (make sure groups report out who they are researching to avoid duplicates) who ruined his or her career by reporting false, inaccurate, or poorly reported information.

Each group will have about 15 minutes to research and create, and about two minutes to report out.

  1. Final Steps/Assessment (5 minutes)

Exit ticket:

Ask the students to reflect on the following question before they leave the room:

What are three concrete steps a reputable media operation should take when they discover a published story has major errors in it?

Disgraced journalists slideshow

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How the media frame the news
and what journalists should consider

Posted by on Aug 29, 2017 in Blog, Lessons, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

by Maggie Cogar

Title

How the media frame the news and what journalists should consider

*The lesson plan “How people interpret the news and why it matters” is meant to be used before this lesson. It will help give students a background on news interpretation and processing before moving on to news framing and effects.

Description
Journalists are taught to be objective, so they don’t “frame” stories” … or do they? Whether consciously or unconsciously, research suggests time and time again that what the media decides to cover, and how they cover it, ultimately influences what people find important and how they interpret the news. So it’s important for journalists to consider their story angle, word choice and even interview questions to be sure they don’t rely on social stereotypes, which could potentially be inaccurate, to tell their stories.

Objectives

  • Students will explain and discuss how the media frame content.
  • Students will evaluate word choice and story angle in existing news stories.
  • Students will apply these concepts to their own writing, by adjusting interview questions, story angle and word choice as needed.
  • In the extension assignment, students will research a specific topic to see how the media frames it (i.e. female athletes, climate change, etc.).

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze how an author uses and refines the meaning of a key term or terms over the course of a text (e.g., how Madison defines faction in Federalist No. 10).
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.11-12.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

Length

50 minutes

Materials / resources

Clip: Framing video clip

Slideshow: See How the media frame the news at the bottom of the lesson

Also see: Related lesson plan

Lesson step-by-step

Step 1 —  Entrance Activity (5 minutes)

Show the following video clip from the tv show Scandal, that considers gender stereotypes in the news (refer back to previous lesson plan on news interpretation for the social construction of gender) … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1oyIEgDWAQ

Step 2 — Lecture & Class Discussion (20 minutes)

Use the framing slideshow (with instructor notes) to discuss how the media frames the news. (see the bottom of the lesson)

Step 3 — Framing Activity (20 minutes)

Students will …

  • Make four columns on a piece of paper and label them story angle, visuals, design and word choice
  • Read this story and takes notes in each column with overall impressions in each category.
  • Questions to consider:
    • What is the main angle of the story? Is it biased? One sided?
    • Do the visuals match the main angle of the story? Do the visuals enhance understanding of the story or distract from it?
    • How does the overall design of the story frame it? I.e. what is main angle of the story as told by the design?
    • Are there any words used in the story that could have loaded meaning or be interpreted the wrong way? Are there any words that may paint the picture in a more positive or negative light?

Step 4 — Exit Slip (5 minutes)

On a piece of paper respond:

Will what you learned today impact what you do as a journalist? How?

Extension

Have students research a specific group or issue to see how the media portrays it. Examples of research topics include …

  • Gender (specifically they could look at female athletes, female politicians, parent roles, male models or athletes, etc.)
  • Race (they can look at this in relation to many things like race & athletes, race & criminal coverage, etc.)
  • Climate change
  • Abortion
  • Equal marriage

Further resources: Links to stories to analyze framing

http://www.startribune.com/search-firm-knew-of-st-paul-superintendent-candidate-s-bankruptcy/425706293/

http://www.dispatch.com/article/20160125/NEWS/301259783

How the media frame the news slideshow

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Solutions journalism in student publications

Posted by on Aug 29, 2017 in Blog, Lessons, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

by Kristin Taylor

Title

Solutions journalism in student publications

Description

Critics accuse the news media of only reporting bad news, but journalists must investigate and report on problems. One alternative to reporting solely on the problem is to report on how people and communities are seeking to solve those problems. This form of investigative journalism is called “solutions journalism.” This lesson provides an introduction to solutions journalism and encourages student reporters to generate ideas about how they could use this approach in their own reporting.

Objectives

  • Students will be able to define solutions-based journalism and analyze how it differs from traditional news coverage.
  • Students will read examples of solution journalism and analyze how a solutions approach changed the article.
  • Students will apply solutions-based thinking to a current topic they could report and create a reporting plan.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.9-10.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.9-10.2 Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.9-10.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language of a court opinion differs from that of a newspaper).
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.6 Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text in which the rhetoric is particularly effective, analyzing how style and content contribute to the power, persuasiveness or beauty of the text.

Length

60 minutes

Materials

Whiteboard and markers

Teacher computer and digital projector

Student computers, if available

solutionsjournalism.org video

Bad news isn’t the whole story” episode of On The Media podcast

Lesson step-by-step

Step 1 — Warm up (5 minutes)

Ask, “What is the difference between journalism and advocacy? Given fears about being perceived as advocates rather than objective journalists, how can a reporter write a story about solutions to problems?” Students offer thoughts; teacher records ideas on the board. Say, “Today we are going to explore the concept of Solutions Journalism and think about how you might use this approach for one of your own stories.”

Step 2 — Video and think-pair-share (10 minutes)

Teacher plays two-minute video from solutionsjournalism.org introducing the concept of solutions journalism. In pairs, students summarize what they learned about the concept and come up with a definition for “solutions journalism.” Partners share their definitions with the class.

Step 3 — Class discussion (10 minutes)

As a follow-up, the teacher asks questions to make sure they understand these key ideas:

  • The video does not suggest that ALL journalism should focus on solutions, but rather suggests there should be a mix. Why is that so important?
  • Why would it be important to look at solutions that aren’t working alongside those that are?
  • How is this kind of journalism different from straight advocacy?

Step 4 — Partner activity (25 minutes)

Students meet back up with their partners and go to solutionsjournalism.org. Together, they select two stories to read from “The Best Solutions Journalism of 2016.” (If students do not have access to computers, the teacher can pick out two stories ahead of time and print them out for the class.) Partners should discuss these stories and why the Solutions Journalism Network selected them. They should consider how each story would have been different if it didn’t have a solutions focus.

Step 5 — Assessment (10 minutes)

Groups will share final thoughts and takeaways from these articles and then brainstorm at least three potential problems at school or in our local community. As a class, look at each problem and discuss how students could investigate that problem from a solutions journalism mindset.

Extension

Students can listen to the 11-minute podcast episode of On the Media called “Bad News Isn’t the Whole Story,” an interview with one of the cofounders of the SJN. The class would discuss how Rosenberg responds to journalists who fear being labeled advocates if they practice solutions journalism.

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Developing guidelines for the use of
sponsored content in your student media

Posted by on Aug 29, 2017 in Blog, Lessons, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

by John Bowen

Title

Developing guidelines for the possible use of sponsored content (or native ads) in your student media

Description –– second in the sponsored news sequence
Because of the rapid spread of sponsored content or native advertising, it is possible your students will have to decide whether to use them in their student media. Faced with that decision, what arguments would students raise and what decisions would they make – and why?

Objectives

  • Students will review their plusses and minuses discussion about use of native ads and sponsored content, focusing on the strongest arguments.
  • Students will develop ethical guidelines about the use of native ads and sponsored content in your student media.
  • Students will evaluate their work, the goal being to reach agreement on guidelines for each for inclusion in their staff manual.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.11-12.1.D Respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives; synthesize comments, claims, and evidence made on all sides of an issue; resolve contradictions when possible; and determine what additional information or research is required to deepen the investigation or complete the task.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.11-12.2 Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) in order to make informed decisions and solve problems, evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source and noting any discrepancies among the data.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.11-12.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence, conveying a clear and distinct perspective, such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning, alternative or opposing perspectives are addressed, and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and a range of formal and informal tasks.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.8 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.

Length

50 minutes

Materials / resources

Blackboard or whiteboard

Teacher laptop and digital projector

Internet access

Model SPRC ethical guidelines for sponsored content/native ads

Ethical guidelines template

Lesson step-by-step

Step 1 — Warm-up (5 minutes)

The teacher will summarize the discussions on native ads and sponsored content and introduce the concept of students in small groups developing ethical guidelines for the use of native ads and sponsored content in their student media.

Step 2 — Small group work (25 minutes)

The teacher will ask students to form small groups of three or four depending on class enrollment. Half the groups will focus on ethical guidelines for native ads and half on ethical guidelines for sponsored content.

The teacher will distribute links to the ethical guideline models from the SPRC and the ethical guidelines template for student use as required.

Students will create drafts of ethical guidelines to be shared with other teams so they can select items for final statements for their staff manual.

Step 3 — Whole group instruction (20 minutes)

Student groups will share their work with other teams who did the same assignment. At the end of the discussion period student teams will synthesize their work into one final native ads ethical guideline and one final sponsored content ethical guideline for inclusion in student media staff manuals.

Assessment

Since this basically planning work in teams, no individual grades need be given at this point. The teacher might choose to evaluate student work by assigning an opinion statement due the next class. This statement would share with student media audiences why student journalists felt this statement was needed and the issues it addresses.

Extension

Student groups might add one more step in the approval process by digitally sharing final drafts with those handling the other topic for comment and later resolution.

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Propaganda

Posted by on Aug 29, 2017 in Blog, Lessons, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

by Michael Johnson

Title

Propaganda

Description
In this lesson, students explore propaganda techniques, and discuss how they are the targets of advertisers and politicians. Students will understand and identify how propaganda techniques are used to influence them into doing, feeling and believing a message that may or may not be of benefit to them. Students will create their own propaganda message using one (or more) of 11 known propaganda techniques. The key is to help students begin an awareness of, and the ability to identify, how their outlook on life is related to the messages they see. This lesson takes one 60-minute class period to complete.

Objectives

  • Students will be able to identify what propaganda is and how is it used.
  • Students will be able to explain the various propaganda techniques and how they affect the dissemination of information.
  • Students will be able to interpret propaganda and spin to make an informed decision.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.9-10.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language of a court opinion differs from that of a newspaper).
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.9-10.6 Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how an author uses rhetoric to advance that point of view or purpose.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.9-10.8 Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning.

Length

50 minutes

Materials / resources

Blackboard or whiteboard

Teacher laptop and digital projector

Internet access

Images of propaganda

Judging Propaganda worksheet

Lesson step-by-step

Step 1 — Warm-up (5 minutes)

Instructor will write the word propaganda on the board and ask students, as a class, what this word means to them. What do they think when they heard the word? Prompt students to think about the definition, examples, situations in which it is used, and why it would be used in a situation.

After the discussion, students should understand that propaganda refers to a type of message aimed at influencing opinions and/or the behavior of people. Propaganda may provide only partial information or be deliberately misleading. Propaganda techniques are often found on television and radio, as well as magazines and newspapers.

Step 2 — Samples of propaganda (5 minutes)

Show or distribute the attached examples of propaganda and discuss with students:

  • What technique is being used?
  • What do you think the purpose of this image is?
  • Is this propaganda?  Why or why not?  If yes, which pieces of information regarding the subject of the image are not addressed?
  • What might we learn about society based on the pieces of propaganda?
  • Is propaganda only limited to foreign governments with communistic or dictatorial regimes? Has the United States ever generated propaganda?

Step 3 — Assessing prior knowledge (5 minutes)

Ask students what types of propaganda techniques they can name. After a short discussion, introduce (or review) the following 11 techniques of propaganda:

  • Emotional appeal (i.e. fear):  Appealing to the emotions of an audience.  For example, when a propagandist warns members of her audience that disaster will result if they do not follow a particular course of action, they are using fear appeal.
  • Glittering generalities:  Words of praise for a product or person; use of nice words such as “goodness” or “patriotism.”
  • Testimonials: Famous people or figures who will appear trustworthy speak to the audience in promotion of a product or idea.
  • Bandwagon:  The basic theme of the bandwagon appeal is that “everyone else is doing it, and so should you.”
  • Plain-folks: By using the plain-folks technique, speakers attempt to convince their audience that they, and their ideas, are “of the people.”
  • Scientific approach:  Using scientific jargon (i.e. numbers, statistics, data, etc.) to convince your audience.
  • Snob appeal:  Giving the impression that people of wealth and prestige are on board.
  • Card stacking:  Only presenting one side of the issue/situation.
  • Transfer:  Transfer is a device by which the propagandist carries over the authority, sanction, and prestige of something we respect and revere to something he would have us accept.
  • Name-calling:  The linking of a person or idea to a negative symbol in hopes the audience will reject the person or the idea on the basis of the negative symbol, instead of looking at the available evidence.
  • Euphemisms:  An attempt to pacify the audience to make an unpleasant reality more palatable. This is accomplished by using words that are bland and euphemistic.

Step 4 — Small group work and discussion (5 minutes)

Place students into small groups and hand out the attached Kids Voting worksheet, “Judging Propaganda.” Have students complete the sheet in their groups then go over the answers as a class:

  1. B        6. H
  2. E        7. C
  3. A        8. F
  4. D       9. G
  5. J       10. I

Discuss:

  • Why should we examine advertisements, campaigns, and various media forms in general for propaganda?  Is propaganda a negative tactic in your opinion?  Explain.
  • Out of the types of propaganda from the worksheet, which do you think is most effective and why?  Which do you think may be used to disguise truth the easiest?

Part 2 of lesson: Utilize a Propaganda Technique to Create an Advertisement

Step 5 — Identification of technique (15 minutes)

Next, assign each group one of the propaganda techniques from the handout.  Then, tell the groups to complete the following assignment:

  • You have been assigned a particular propaganda technique. As a group, create an ad to present to class using this propaganda technique. You may create an ad for a newspaper or a poster.
  • The purpose of the ad is to recruit votes for Steve Williams, who is running for your state’s Senate.
  • You may be creative in the content you provide about Williams, but it must be presented in a way that utilizes your propaganda technique.
  • Be prepared to present your ad to the remainder of class in 15 minutes.
  • Instructor note: If using this activity during an election time, assign students a real political figure for whom to create an ad. Students would then need to research facts about that figure and his/her political values and agenda so that their ad is realistic to the candidate while still utilizing the assigned propaganda technique.  

Step 6 — Student presentations (15 minutes)

Once students are finished, have them present their ad to the remainder of class without sharing the propaganda technique they were assigned.  After each presentation, instruct the rest of class to identify which technique the group utilized. Discuss:

  • How did the ads for Williams differ?
  • Of all the ads you heard/saw today from classmates, which ad would make you most want to vote for Williams and why?
  • When politicians are campaigning during elections, in what ways do they utilize the techniques that you just used in your own ads?  How do these propaganda techniques affect the election process?

Step 7 — Assessment

For homework, instruct students to bring in an example of propaganda. Students should examine magazines, the Internet, or watch TV and scan for examples then summarize the ad example on notebook paper, classify the type of propaganda used in the ad, and evaluate its effectiveness. Ask students to bring in copies of the ads if possible.

Assessment

Exceeds Expectations – Student performance far exceeds minimal level of performance.

Meets Expectations – Criterion is met at a minimal level.

Revisit – Criterion not met. Student responses are weak or unfocused to be acceptable.

Exceeds expectations Meets expectations Revisit
Student understands and knows the 11 propaganda techniques.
Student created a propaganda message that fits into one (or more) of the 11 techniques.
Student presented their assigned propaganda technique to the class.
Student located a current example of propaganda.

 

Resources

Judging Propaganda

Listed below are the names of propaganda techniques, followed by specific examples. Match the name of the technique to the example by placing the letter in the box.

a. Emotional appeal           f. Scientific approach

b. Glittering generalities    g. Snob appeal

C.Testimonials                   h. Card stacking.

d. Bandwagon                     i. Transfer

e. Plain folks                       j. Name calling

 

  1. These are vague, nice-sounding descriptions of things: “Have a lawn that makes you proud.” “Get the biggest bang for your buck.” “… stronger, brighter.”
  2. This appeals to your sense of home and family: “Lemonade, just like grandma used to make.” “The hearth-baked goodness of whole grain bread.” “It’s as American as apple pie.”
  3. This is a direct line to your fear, anger, pity, or sense of humor: “Don’t be bullied into paying more taxes that you already do.” “If you know the feeling of a dead battery on a lonely road, then buy …”
  4. Since many people want to do what everyone else is doing, you are urged to get onboard and join the crowd: “Be like Mike.” “Keep up with the Jones and make your home the best it can be.” “Join the younger generation and vote for …”
  5. One blame problems on a group, person or idea: “Our downfall began with the other party.” “I inherited the budget deficit from my predecessor.”
  6. One only presents one side and hides the other. One only presents what is favorable or what is unfavorable, whatever serves the cause.
  7. These refer to people who are either unnamed, unknown or famous who have something positive to say about the product, issue or candidate. Everyone is made to sound like an expert: “Most experienced mothers depend upon …” “These movie stars are voting for …”
  8. Tests, statistics and pseudo-scientific jargon are used to be convincing: “Four out of five dentists use …” “Research shows …” “The polls show our candidate ahead.”
  9. These give the impression that people of elegance, wealth, good taste and intelligence will buy the product or vote for the issue or candidate” “When only the very best will do, buy …” “People of status will vote for …”
  10. One groups things for a stronger effect. The following combinations of traits do not necessarily go together: “Young and joyous,” “think and juicy,” “old and wise.”

Examples of Propaganda

Works Cited and Resources

ChangingMinds.org. (2017, May 21). Name-calling. Retrieved May 21, 2017, from ChangingMinds.org: http://changingminds.org/techniques/propaganda/name_calling.htm

NC Civic Education Consortium. (2017, May 21). Propaganda and Spin. Retrieved from StudyLib: http://studylib.net/doc/8877067/spin—database-of-k

Child Abuse. 2012. Photograph. Child Health Foundation. Child Health Foundation, 9 Mar. 2012. Web. 21 May 2017.  <http://adsoftheworld.com/sites/default/files/images/childhealthscream.jpg

Perkins, Matthew. “Food and Society.”: Subway Sunday: Eat Fresh? Blogger, 16 May 2014. Web. 21 May 2017. <http://foodandsocietyathanover.blogspot.kr/2014/05/subway-sunday-eat-fresh.html>

Proactive. Digital Image. Propaganda Project 16 May 2014. Web. 21 May 2017. <http://propagandaproject2013.weebly.com/commercial.html>

Williams, Morgan. Digital image. WordPress.com. N.p., 9 Apr. 2013. Web. 21 May 2017. <http://morganjlw.wordpress.com/2013/04/09/arguments-get-on-the-bandwagon-american-wwii-propaganda/>

Beneker, Gerrit A. Digital image. Library of Congress., 1918. Web. 21 May 2017. <http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/cph.3g09651/>.

Burger King. (2013). Big taste. Less fat. [Advertisement]. Retrieved from <http://propagandafoodcomms9.weebly.com/card-stacking.html>

Under Armor. (2013). The advantage is undeniable. [Advertisement]. Retrieved from <http://www.keywordsuggests.com/F2V2*C6Doj5eueL0gE2wu24qFAerMHUz%7C3dG0YXV4ts/>

Corona. (2014). Find your beach. [Advertisement]. Retrieved from <https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/97/ac/5b/97ac5b722fa2ae88c5fb738b6b1bb7b1.jpghttp://www.keywordsuggests.com/F2V2*C6Doj5eueL0gE2wu24qFAerMHUz%7C3dG0YXV4ts/>

Hopps, Harry R. “Destroy This Mad Brute.” Digital Desk., 1917. Web. 21 May 2017.  <http://www.digitaldesk.org/projects/secondary/propaganda/destroy_brute.html>

The Concensus Project. (2011). Climate change is real. [Advertisement]. Retrieved from <http://theconsensusproject.com/#sharePagehttp://www.keywordsuggests.com/F2V2*C6Doj5eueL0gE2wu24qFAerMHUz%7C3dG0YXV4ts/>

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How to spot fake news

Posted by on Aug 29, 2017 in Blog, Lessons, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

by Michael Johnson

Title

How to spot fake news

Description
There has been a lot of talk lately about “fake news” because it has been particularly prevalent during the recent 2016 Presidential election campaign. According to a recent Pew Research Center study, 62 percent of Americans get their news from social media sites and 44 percent get their news specifically from Facebook. Nearly 90 percent of millennials regularly get news from Facebook. In addition, a recent study from Stanford University revealed that many teens have difficulty analyzing the news; 82 percent of middle school students surveyed couldn’t tell the difference between an ad labeled “sponsored content” and a legitimate news story.  

This lesson provides an opportunity for students to learn what fake news is, differentiate it from other types of news (including satirical, misleading and tabloid news), develop strategies for spotting fake news and consider what can be done about the proliferation of fake news.

Objectives

  • Students will reflect on their own experiences with and preferences of their news sources.
  • Students will show they understand what “fake news” is and identify strategies for differentiating real and fake news.
  • Students will explore what can be done to be better consumers of news and what else they can do for their school, community and society about fake news.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.9-10.6 Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how an author uses rhetoric to advance that point of view or purpose.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.9-10.8 Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.5 Analyze and evaluate the effectiveness of the structure an author uses in his or her exposition or argument, including whether the structure makes points clear, convincing, and engaging.

Length

100 minutes

Materials / resources

Blackboard or whiteboard

Teacher laptop and digital projector

Internet access

Panetta homework

Assessment

Information to share with students

How to spot fake news

Lesson step-by-step Day 1

Step 1 — Warm-up: Activity I: What is the News and How Do We Get it? (15 minutes)

  1. Ask students: What is news? Elicit a definition of news as a printed, broadcast or digital (i.e.  technological) report of factual information about important events in the world, country or local area.” You can print this on the board/smart board if you think it would be helpful.
  2. Ask students: Where do you get your news? Explain that we get our news from a variety of sources and show students that some of those sources are written on pieces of paper around the classroom. Read aloud the six signs as follows: (1) Social Media (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, SnapChat, YouTube), (2) Online News Website, (3) Television News, (4) Radio/Podcasts, (5) Newspaper/Magazines and (6) Friends and Family. Answer any questions students may have about the categories. Then have students think for a minute about the news source where they get the most news or one that they like the best. Ask them to move to the part of the room with the sign designating their preferred news source. Give a few minutes for students to situate themselves.
  3. When students are in their chosen parts of the room, have them talk with each other about (1) why they like using that news source and (2) what are some of the limitations/negatives of that news source. Have them designate one person as the recorder to report back to the rest of the class what they discussed in their groups.  
  4. Have each group report back to the class what they discussed in their groups, focusing on why they like their chosen news source and identifying its limitations/negatives.

Step 2 — Activity II: Turn and Talk: Real News or Fake News? (35 minutes)

  1. Engage in a brief discussion by asking: What did you notice about the different news sources, what we liked and the limitations of each? After hearing about the other news sources, did it make you feel differently about the news source you picked (please explain)?
  2. Explain to students there has been a lot of talk lately about “fake news,” especially around the 2016 Presidential Election. Ask students: What is fake news? What is a fake news site? Elicit and explain that fake news websites publish untrue or fake information to drive web traffic to the site. The goal is to mislead readers to believe the stories and to make money through advertising. Social media sites are used to spread the fake news. Also, explain that there are some fake news sites that contain factual news stories that are used to camouflage the fact that other news stories are untrue and fake.
  3. Share examples of fake news and real news by having students access three examples of news stories.

After accessing each example, have students jot down the title of the news story, whether they think it’s fake or real, and at least three reasons for why. As you share the websites, make sure to scroll around the website and highlight the web address, logo, contact information, story author, etc. to give students a sense of everything on the website in order to best assess it.  

  1. After going through each of the examples, have students turn and talk to a person sitting next to them and together, come up with a general list of how they know a news story is real and why they might suspect a news story is fake. They can create a chart for recording their answers as follows:
How You Know It’s Real Why You Suspect/Know It’s Fake

 

  1. Engage students in a discussion by asking the following question:
  • Was it easy or difficult to determine whether the news was fake or real? Explain.
  • What were some clues that the news was not true?
  • How did you feel when you found a news story was fake if you originally thought it was real?

Lesson step-by-step Day 2

Step 1: Reading (20 minutes)

  1. Link to the article How to Spot Fake News and give students 10–15 minutes to read it silently (do not assign for homework the night before).
  2. After students have read the article, engage them in a class discussion by asking the following questions:
  3. What did you learn that you didn’t know before?
  • Have you ever used any of the strategies discussed in the article? Please explain.
  • Why do you think fake news is created?
  • What are the dangers of fake news?
  • How might you think differently about news after reading the article?

Step 2: Discussion (10 minutes)

Ask students: What can we do about fake news? What can we do individually and what might we do with others in our school or larger community? Create a brainstormed list which may include some of the following and divide the ideas into two categories — “What I can do to spot fake news?” and “What I can do to educate my school, community and society about fake news?”  

  • Triple check news sources
  • Look for clues
  • Teach others how to spot fake news
  • Use only certain news sources
  • Google the news story and see if it is included on other news sources that I know
  • Don’t get news only from social media
  • Write letters to social media sites to get them to crack down on fake news
  • Use fact-checking websites such as Snopes.com,  FactCheck.org, The Washington Post Fact Checker and PolitiFact.com

Step 3: Writing (20 minutes)

Have students write a short synopsis about what they learned about fake news, their best strategies for spotting fake news and/or what we can do as individuals or as a community/society about fake news. They should write their piece as either a Facebook post (that they are sharing with their followers, to inform them) or as a short blog post (which then you could publish later on a class blog). Have students complete their writing as a homework assignment. Have students share their writing with the class and if not completed, share the first few sentences.

Assessment

Exceeds Expectations Meets Expectations Revisit
Student understands what fake news is and can identify it.
Student can tell the difference between real news vs. fake news
Student short synopsis about what they learned about fake news.

 

Information to share with students

  • There is a difference between (1) fake news, which is explained above, (2) misleading news, which often contains some truth including a fact, event or quote that has been taken out of context; these can be difficult to debunk, (3) satirical news, which will often cover current events and then satirize the tone and content of traditional news, using humor, sarcasm and falsities; a good example of satire news is The Onion. Satirical news does not intend to mislead and profit from readers believing the stories as true, and (4) tabloid news, which is a style of news that emphasizes sensational crime stories, gossip columns about celebrities.
  • According to a recent Pew Research Center study, 62 percent of Americans get their news from social media and 44 percent get their news from Facebook specifically. Of those who get news on at least one of the social media sites, the majority (64 percent) get their news on just one platform, most commonly Facebook. In addition, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram news users are more likely to get their news online mostly “by chance,” while they are online doing other things. Nearly 90 percent of millennials regularly get news from Facebook.
  • A recent study called Evaluating Information: The Cornerstone of Civic Online revealed that teenagers may have some difficulty analyzing the news. Eighty-two percent of middle school students surveyed couldn’t tell the difference between an ad labeled “sponsored content” and a legitimate news story.
  • Fake news has been particularly prevalent during the recent 2016 Presidential election campaign. The top Google news link for “final election results” was from a fake-news site called “70 News,” which “reported” that Donald Trump had won both the electoral and popular vote. The Washington Post pointed out that it isn’t true. New web sites designed to trick and mislead people pop up every day.
  • Fake news creators make money in very similar ways from how traditional news companies make money, from advertisements. They have display advertising for which they receive a small portion (i.e. a few cents) for every person who visits that page. Their goal is to get the news to go viral so a lot of people will visit; more social shares mean more page views which result in more money. Among a growing group of Macedonian teenagers, the most successful of those creating fake news sites can earn up to $5,000 a month.
  • Because a lot of the fake news appears and is shared through Google and Facebook, they have taken steps to do something about it. Google announced that it will prohibit “misrepresentative content” from appearing on its advertising network. Facebook says it will not place ads from fake news publishers on third party apps or websites, because the content falls under the broader category of “illegal, misleading or deceptive” content.

Works Cited

American News. (2017, May 29). ALERT: Bananas Being Injected With HIV Blood … Here’s How You Can Tell. Retrieved from American News: http://americannews.com/alert-bananas-injected-hiv-blood-heres-can-tell/

Anti-Defamation League. (2017, May 21). What is Fake News? Retrieved from Anti-Defamation League: https://www.adl.org/education/resources/tools-and-strategies/table-talk/fake-news

ChangingMinds.org. (2017, May 21). Name-calling. Retrieved May 21, 2017, from ChangingMinds.org: http://changingminds.org/techniques/propaganda/name_calling.htm

NC Civic Education Consortium. (2017, May 21). Propaganda and Spin. Retrieved from StudyLib: http://studylib.net/doc/8877067/spin—database-of-k

NC Civic Education Consortium. (2017, May 21). Propaganda and Spin. Retrieved from StudyLib: http://studylib.net/doc/8877067/spin—database-of-k

Panetta, L. E. (2001, September 9). The Price of ‘Spin’ versus the ‘Truth’. Retrieved from The Monterrey County Herald: http://www.panettainstitute.org/programs/leon-panetta-commentaries/commentaries-from-2001/the-price-of-spin-versus-the-truth/

Robertson, E. K. (2016, november 18). How to Spot Fake News. Retrieved from FactCheck.org: http://www.factcheck.org/2016/11/how-to-spot-fake-news/

Rustling, J. (2016, November 11). Obama Signs Executive Order Banning The National Anthem At All Sporting Events Nationwide. Retrieved from ABC News: http://abcnews.com.co/obama-signs-executive-order-banning-national-anthem/

The Associated Press. (2016, November 28). Dylann Roof, Charleston Church Shooting Suspect, Can Act as His Own Attorney. Retrieved from NBCnews.com: http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/charleston-church-shooting/dylann-roof-charleston-church-shootingsuspect-can-act-his-own-n689151

Weiss, L. (2001, September 10). American Political Spin Cycle Is Out of Control. Retrieved from The Utah Daily Chronicle Archive: http://archive.dailyutahchronicle.com/2001/09/10/american-political-spin-cycle-is-out-of-control/

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