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Basic libel law


This online lesson guides students through the basics of libel law and the specifics of how it applies to real-world situations. It includes a brief instructional video, a quiz for understanding, and a discussion/writing prompt.


  • Students will have a basic understanding of libel law.
  •  Students will apply libel law to real-world scenarios and decision-making.
  • Students will demonstrate an understanding of the benefits of avoiding libel.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.11-12.7Conduct 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.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.11-12.6Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products in response to ongoing feedback, including new arguments or information.


25 minutes

Materials / resources

Basic Libel Law Presentation Video

Basic Libel Law Presentation PDF

Student Press Law Center Libel Quiz

Student Press Law Center Libel Quiz ANSWERS with Explanations

Lesson step-by-step

Presentation (10 minutes to complete) — Post a link to the “Basic Libel Law” video and/or to the PDF of the presentation for students to watch and study.

Assessment 1 (10 minutes) — Provide a link to the “Student Press Law Center Libel Quiz,” and have students provide their best answers in whatever manner is easiest (as responses to a Google Form, typed into a doc of some sort, etc.). The teacher may then score and provide feedback or (suggested) provide the “Student Press Law Center Answer Key” as a link directly to students for self-evaluation and some explanation for incorrect answers.

Assessment 2 (5 minutes) — Post the following question (or questions) for extended student response: (1.) Why is it important that journalists hold themselves to high standards in avoiding publishing libel? (2.) [This could be optional for production classes] What does our student publication do to avoid publishing libel? Responses could be submitted for the teacher only or posted in such a way as to allow for sharing and comment by others to encourage some digital dialogue. In assessing responses, look for direct reference to some of the details from the presentation as well as extension to specific, real-world harm to citizens/society of libel and benefits for journalism/society for avoiding libel.


The differentiation is in the video selected and assignment given.

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