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Comparing sourcing, and verifying stories in print, digital media


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

3. Comparing sourcing, verifying stories in print, digital media
In this lesson, students will compare and contrast the need for sourcing in digital and print media and develop for each platform. Policies should be consistent with professional journalism standards and allow for coherent, accuracy, thorough and complete reporting and audience understanding.

Primary Common Core: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.8

Secondary Common Core Standard(s) Addressed: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.6

21st Century Skills Incorporated: Critical thinking, collaboration

Supplies, Technology, Other Materials Needed: Handouts, online resources and computer or tablet equipment

Length of the Lesson: 90 minutes

Evaluation tools: Student created product
, task performance

Appropriate for Grades: 9-12

Created by: John Bowen, MJE

Brief description of lesson:
With student media considering either expanding their print media to include digital media platforms – or to replace it. Additionally, the perceived need for quick publication of information in a digital environment raises questions about time-tested practices of sourcing and verifying information before publication. This lesson can help address that process. The goal is to have students develop process and policy for use of sources and verification of information for print and digital media.

Lesson details:
Day 1: (and homework)
The first step in the process is to have students examine current thinking in the areas of sourcing and verifying for print and digital media. The teacher will divide the class into teams examining sourcing issues and verifying issues.

Introductory activity:
Have students examine the July 12, 2013 KTVU-TV hoax of the release of pilot names in the San Francisco airplane crash. Discuss the legal, ethical and journalistic issues involved, including:
• What verification steps should the station and any media outlet take before publishing or airing names?
• Is the rush to be first that important? What alternatives could there be/
• Should media outlets have policies in place for handling such questions? What would they look like?
• What should journalists do if they make such mistakes?

Some initial resources (many more should be available):
• Article and visuals
• KTVU-TV apologizes after incorrectly naming Asiana pilots, NTSB admits to wrongdoing
• Pranks aren’t funny…many lessons

Day 2
Follow-up activity
Students will go online and search for a range of relevant materials (like the ones above) on the subject[1]  of sourcing and source use. In their groups, they will use information from these resources to prepare process and policy guidelines for their print and online media.

Specific principles they should address include:
• Should the processes (ethical, legal and contextual) be the same, or different, for print and digital?
• What are Best Practices for both platforms as seen by media professionals?
• How can these processes by adapted by scholastic media?

Terms and groups students could explore (along with their search terms):
• The Poynter Institute
• Online News Association
• Steve Buttry
• Jay Rosen
• The Elements of Journalism
• The essence of journalism is a discipline of verification
• Response to Kovach and Rosenstiel, “Journalism of Verification”
• Committee of Concerned Journalists

Students, in teams, will prepare talking points for Day 2.

Day 3:
Teams will present their policies in any manner they choose for class discussion (that could use various types of media – PowerPoint, posters, Soundslides, etc.) to spur discussion.

The goal of the teams is to reach consensus for the class/publication by the end of the period. If needed for clarification, used a third day.








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