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Should news media neglect events or people?

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Title
Should media ever not report events or personalities? What ethical issues are involved?

Description
The Huffington Post recently announced it would only report Donald Trump’s bid for the Republican nomination for president on the entertainment pages.

Historically, many would argue this decision runs counter to the journalistic concept of objectivity. Others argue journalism’s changing roles and thinking of what is news preclude “events” simply designed for attention, without substance.

Working on this question can lead to clarification of student media roles and concept of what is news and help students  begin to develop ethical guidelines for news coverage

Objectives
• Students will be able to define possible roles for their student media
Students will be able to define and practice definitions of news
Students will apply concepts and decision making  from the exercise and create ethical guidelines and procedures for skeptical knowing.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.5 Analyze in detail how an author’s ideas or claims are developed and refined by particular sentences, paragraphs, or larger portions of a text (e.g., a section or chapter).
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.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.11-12.3 Analyze a complex set of ideas or sequence of events and explain how specific individuals, ideas, or events interact and develop over the course of the text.

Length
150 minutes

Materials / resources

Length
2 days

Lesson step-by-step

Day 1

Introduce students to the article (A Note About Our Coverage) from the Huffington Post on not reporting Donald Trump’s campaign for the Republican presidential nomination as political news.

Discuss the issues: objectivity, partisanship, bias, trust, public’s right to know. How do the students react to the Note About Our Coverage and to the idea of not reporting a person or event, and why.

Then share the other readings (That’s a bad idea, Confusion and Donald fires back) with the students and go through similar questions or issues.

To add another view, have students read and discuss link about “clerkism.”  Discuss the question whether refusing to report everything someone says is a logical part of journalistic responsibility – or simply showing bias.

Differentiation
Students could do the readings outside class and spend Day 1 discussing the implications and ethics of the questions about “refusing to cover” and “clerkism.”

Day 2

Students will review the previous discussions and prepare to design ethical guidelines and staff manual procedures for their student media about reporting or not reporting events and people.

Access instructions and how to use the ethical guidelines-staff manual approaches and a model of what the concept would look like.

Students will finalize their thinking and share with others on student medial

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