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Introduction to news literacy

Posted by on Aug 22, 2017 in Blog, Lessons, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


by Kristin Taylor


Introduction to News Literacy


In order for students to understand the importance of the freedom of speech and freedom of the press guaranteed by the First Amendment, they must understand the responsibilities that come along with this freedom. It is not enough to have a free press — we must be able to evaluate our news and vary our news diets. This lesson provides a foundational understanding of news media literacy and asks students to reflect on their own news media habits to escape our filter bubbles and avoid fake news. Although this lesson is formatted here as a 60-minute class period, it can be approached in a number of ways. The presentation could happen in specific classes (social studies, English, etc.) or to groups of students (school assembly, class meeting, advisory groups) with the discussion happening immediately or in a follow-up class.


  • Students will be able to define and explain the difference between traditional news sources, non-traditional news sources, news aggregators, partisan news sources and fake news sources.
  • Students will be able to define and explain the difference between objective news, news analysis, opinion and native ads/sponsored content.
  • Students will be able to evaluate the importance of news media literacy in a democratic society.
  • Students will reflect on and evaluate their own news media literacy to determine how they should continue or change their current news habits.

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.9-10.6 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.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.9-10.1.C Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that relate the current discussion to broader themes or larger ideas; actively incorporate others into the discussion; and clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions.



60 minutes

Materials / resources

Whiteboard and markers

Teacher laptop and digital projector

Handout: TrumpBriefings_newslit.pdf (used with written permission from National Report)

Slideshow: Intro to News Media Literacy

Discussion questions can be projected on the board or handed out to small groups.

Lesson step-by-step

Step 1 —  Warm up (10 minutes)

As students arrive, hand out copies of the (fake) news story “Trump to limit all intelligence briefings to 140 characters” (TrumpBriefings_newslit.pdf). Have students look at the article and ask for reactions. Is this a real story or is it fake? How do they know? If students have access to laptops or phones and go to Google this story or site, let them — the internet is the central verification tool for 21st century news consumers.

After a few minutes, of investigation and discussion, have students share why they think it is or is not fake. Then reveal that this is a fake news article and tell students that today’s class will focus on understanding different types of news sources and becoming more news literate consumers.

Step 2 — Lecture and class discussion (40 minutes)

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

Step 3 — Small group discussion (10 minutes)

Questions for small group discussion

  1. What did you learn from today’s presentation that you didn’t know before? Will this new knowledge affect the way you think about or consume news?
  2. Why do you think so many teenagers are fooled by fake news and images?
  3. Have you ever reposted an article without reading it? What is the danger of relying on headlines or assuming someone else has verified the content before you share it?
  4. Part of being a responsible citizen in a democracy is being informed. What is your media diet? Do you consume credible news sources? Do you read local news (student-run school publications, local news sources)? Why or why not?
  5. Evaluate your own news media literacy. What are you doing right? What else do you need to do to be more news literate?


Students should create a ticket-to-leave with one concept they understand about the news that they didn’t understand before and one question they still have. The teacher will collect these as they leave to plan for follow-up and clarification as needed.


Students could watch this 10 minute 2011 TED talk about “online filter bubbles” by Eli Pariser — he predicted our online experience would become more and more polarized as sites like Facebook and search engines like Google use algorithms to personalize our digital experience. Do you think his predictions have come true? What can we do to get outside our own filter bubbles?

Additional Resources



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Five ways we can help you

Posted by on May 1, 2017 in Blog, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


by Lori Keekley
May 1, Loyalty Day. Too-many-days-left-to-count-down-the-end-of-the-school-year day …

No matter what it is, here are five ways JEA’s SPRC can help you (and your students) now.
1. We’re here for you. Whether it’s to study for an upcoming CJE or MJE exam or to help research in a case of censorship, we work to help you and your students.
2. We’re here for your students. If they (or you) find you are in a situation of need, please hit the Panic Button. Someone will answer your request within 24 hours. (It’s usually as soon as we see the email.)
3. Planning for next year? The Foundations Package is a great place to start. This resource helps by providing some starting points for creating a staff manual that includes a media- or board-level policy, ethical guidelines and procedures.
4. It’s never too early to start thinking about Constitution Day. We will release new materials Aug. 20 to help you celebrate this federally mandated event.
5. We will continue to support the First Amendment and its application in schools through our support of New Voices campaigns, First Amendment Press Freedom Award and the passage for board statements.

Please let us know if you need something or think of another way we can help you. We are happy to help

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Introduction to 2016 Constitution Day materials … and more

Posted by on Sep 5, 2016 in Blog, Hazelwood, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


Constitution Day lessons, activities and related materials


In preparation for Constitution Day 2016, several members of the Scholastic Press Rights Committee (SPRC), a committee of the Journalism Education Association, created lesson plans specific for the event.

We suggest celebrating Sept. 16 since the official Constitution Day is Saturday this year.

We created these lessons to help celebrate the Constitution and Bill of Rights, as mandated by Congress. Legislation requires schools to offer lessons on the Constitution and how it affects all Americans. Our lesson plans emphasize the First Amendment and particularly the freedoms of speech and the press.

[pullquote]Keep reading. There are more special offers at the end of the CD Day materials.[/pullquote]

Please contact me  if you have any questions or feedback about the lessons or how to implement them.

The SPRC works to provide information and resources on legal and ethical issues to journalism students, teachers and administrators. SPRC members also work to promote the First Amendment rights of students across the nation.


Students will examine the gray area between political correctness and free speech through peer discussion and real-world examples. Students will explore several topics in small groups followed by a large-group discussion. By Matt Smith

Since media organizations have moved to online formats, they have struggled with the practice of hosting online comments next to their content. Many news organizations require posters to meet specific standards, moderate the comments, and reserve the right to remove or delete comments and users. Some organizations even require each post be approved by a human before it can be live on their sites. More recently, NPR is the latest news organization to completely remove comments from its news sites. Students will explore the question whether the ability to comment on news stories creates a more or less informed culture. By Jeff Kocur

Students will design ethical guidelines they can use this fall and in later coverage (reporting and viewpoint) of elections, candidates and issues. They will examine the comprehensiveness election reporting and how students can go about building robust election coverage. The lesson also examines how students can apply ethical principles to this coverage. By John Bowen

Sometimes politicians misconstrue facts during debates and political ads. This lesson examines the “truthiness” of the ads running currently. Students will analyze one from the Democratic and one from the Republican party. Students could look at a TV ad, online ad or print ad. By Lori Keekley

To see past years’ lessons, go here. Also has links to previous years.

Please send any feedback to I’d love to hear from you!

Lori Keekley

For JEA’s Scholastic Press Rights Committee and the Constitution Day Committee

Constitution Day Committee

John Bowen, MJE, Kent State University (OH)

Lori Keekley, MJE, St. Louis Park High School (MN)

Jeff Kocur, CJE, Hopkins High School (MN)

Matt Smith, Fond du Lac (WI)

And we’re not done yet.

Additionally, we are reintroducing the Making a Difference Campaign.

This campaign will highlight at least one piece of student work each month to help illustrate how students can make a difference through their coverage.

The first Making a Difference in 1988 showed how students reported the impact of the Hazelwood decision.

The first Making a Difference in 1988 showed how students reported the impact of the Hazelwood decision.

These are examples of student media that had an impact on the community or school where they were produced. They can be print, digital, video or audio.

On Constitution Day, we’ll release the link to the submission form and explain the process.

SPRC members will select student work that made a difference, post it on and promote it on Facebook, Twitter and other social media. Let others see the work you have created. When you have something to contribute, please send it to us!

Wait, Wait. There’s more…

• Because two states, Illinois and Maryland, passed legislation over the summer and others are poised to do the same, the SPRC created a packet for helping communities of all kinds understand the importance of that legislation. The Student Free Expression Package will be released later in the week, but some of  its main points are outlined below:

Contents for this package:

  • Importance of state legislation: Although many educators and advocates think of the First Amendment (and the court decisions interpreting it) as the most important tool for interpreting student press rights, there is another equally important source of law: state statutes.
  • Why protecting student free expression is important: Students and advisers in states with recent freedom of expression legislation may want to inform their communities of educational rationale for the legislation. Additionally, those states working to pass such legislation might want to use the same points to gain support
  • Talking Points: With legislation giving students decision-making power over their student media comes questions about roles, purpose and standards. If the school cannot make content decisions who is responsible? What is the role of the adviser? Of students? If the adviser cannot control content, what guidelines will students follow and why?
  • Tips for engaging communities: With new legislation, or attempts to pass it, comes the need for ways to engage those who would support it. The ways can run from concept to concrete and can be delivered in many approaches with details determined locally.
  • Legislation terminology: A compilation of important terminology so everyone can better understand the language and issues surrounding student free expression language.
  • What to do if school officials threaten censorship: Even though state legislation can provide protection, sometimes others do not understand that and need further education. Use a friendly and informative approach and help them understand. Here are some steps we recommend.
  • Sample press release on state legislation: Another option for letting your various communities know about the benefits of free expression legislation is to create a press release to media, civic groups, school board and others.
  • Resources on state legislation: Links to additional information and contacts

And, as a special bonus…

• An important part of JEA’s supports for free expression rights for student journalists is the First Amendment Press Freedom Award.

In its 17th year, the award recognizes high schools that actively support, teach and protect First Amendment rights and responsibilities of students and teachers. FAPFA-2012The recognition focuses on student-run media where students make all final decisions of content without prior review.

The award comes in two steps, with Round 1 due before Dec. 1. The entry form and entry information can be obtained here.






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Our right to comment

Posted by on Sep 5, 2016 in Blog, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


Our right to comment

Since media organizations have moved to online formats, they have struggled with the practice of hosting online comments next to their content. Many news organizations require posters to meet specific standards, moderate the comments, and reserve the right to remove or delete comments and users. Some organizations even require each post be approved by a human before it can be live on their sites. More recently, NPR is the latest news organization to completely remove comments from their news sites. Has the ability to comment on news stories created a more or less informed culture?


  • Students will explore the best ways to interact with news media
  • Students will define the roles of a media outlet

Common Core State Standards

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.


60 minutes

Materials / resources

NPR story about taking comments away


Lesson step-by-step

  1. Have the students read the article linked above
  2. Break the students into groups of four and choose a current event. Have each group read the comments section of a different media outlet you assign them for the current event you have chosen.
  3. Have the students complete the worksheet.
  4. As a whole class, discuss the findings.
  5. As an editorial board, come up with guidelines for your own media. You can find model guidelines here.

During this activity, Editors who already have had discussions about comments could be exploring the policies that various student media have.

One group of students could also be using the time to look at ways that social media fills the role of the comments section for some media outlets.


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Censorship and broadcasting video

Posted by on Sep 3, 2015 in Blog, Legal issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments



Censorship and broadcasting video

by Chris Waugaman

Primary Common Core state standards addressed

(see )

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.2a Introduce a topic; organize complex ideas, concepts, and information so that each new element builds on that which precedes it to create a unified whole; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., figures, tables), and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.


Brief goal/outcome statement:
This would be intended to be a lesson I would use with producers in my broadcasting class or even my online editors who often use video and stream events.

  • Students will learn terms that familiarize them with censorship in video and radio.
  • Students will use their skills at gathering information and using online sources to guide them in times of legal uncertainty.
  • Students will learn how to make critical decisions regarding their press rights by applying the case outcomes they learn in this lesson.

·       Gathering Information

·       Documentation

·       Note-taking



·       Using web as resource

·       Responding to questions

·       Documentation


·       Using modern events to make decisions for their staff



·       Describe the process of video censorship

·       Discuss other possible scenarios that can occur


Unit: Scholastic Press Rights

Lesson – Censorship and Broadcasting

Length of lesson: One 90 minute block (35 minutes instruction/45 minutes activity/10 minute reflection)



  1. Introduction & Instruction: The instruction aspect of this lesson includes instruction in what is the FCC and how is video normally regulated. Students will understand what most news broadcast organizations are required to consider when broadcasting.

There will also be a clear indication of what is required to be censored with video. It would be helpful if students are familiar with the Hazelwood court case and the Tinker court case before this lesson, but it is not a requirement.

Who governs free speech on radio and television? What is censorable on television?

For most high school programs, students publish videos online. The FCC does not govern such publication; however, students can still make decisions with this knowledge. 

With the following case students should consider a few factors in relating to the content and situation at hand: 

  • Is the video part of a school sponsored publication or is it for an individual?
  • What is the publication’s forum status?
  • Is there a valid educational purpose for censoring? (Hazelwood)
  • Can the administration predict a reasonable disruption of the school activities or will it present an invasion of privacy? (Tinker) 

In the following case, a student shot video of a post-fight activity in a school. That camera was confiscated along with the video. Read the following account or what happened, and the SPLC response to determine if the student’s rights were violated.

Seizing video of a fight

Article about video of school fight and SPLC position:

  • We will briefly explain what happened in this case from 2004.
  • We will cover the Privacy Protection Act and how it might apply to this case.
  • Next I ask the students to identify what in the school handbook should protect this student journalist.
  • As a final element to the 35-minute discussion I ask the students to conclude if this scenario impacts our publication and work.

Key pages such as the SPLC web page will be introduced as a primary source for research as it involves the law of the student press.

List of other helpful websites:

Sometimes this will take longer than 35 minutes.

  1. Practice: Students will pick from one of the following cases chronicled on the SPLC site.

They will read the article and answer the questions below to the best of their ability.

Students need to be prepared to briefly describe what happened in the case they have chosen to the class. They can brief the class by presenting their responses to the questions.
• Who does the case involve?
• What happened in the case? How does it involve video?
• Who has made the decision?
• Was this case similar to any other cases you have heard about? What was it?
• How does this situation relate to Hazelwood or Tinker?
• Does the video include anything that is obscene, indecent, or profane?
• How could this case set a precedent?
• Name and document any other sources from the web that pertain to this case.

III. Application: Have students decide together which case could most likely occur this school year.

Students should outline a policy in their staff manual that will inform students how to proceed should a similar scenario to the one that they have researched could develop.

The policy should be agreed upon by the entire staff and be introduced to the administration, along with any updates on the staff manual, for the year.

  1. Reflection: Have students write in their logs details about what new considerations they have thought of after learning about video censorship. It can be as structured as you would like or as open as “what did you learn during the process of researching your topic that you did not realize would happen simply by following the examples I explained at the beginning of the lesson.”
  1. Assessment: Credit for completing questions on case. Credit for hypothetical scenario. Credit for reflection in daily log. Each assignment is worth 33% of the total unit grade. See RUBRIC ON NEXT PAGE.
  2. Assessment: Credit for completing questions on researching topic. Credit for hypothetical scenario. Credit for reflection in daily log. Each assignment is worth 33 percent of the total unit grade.


Grade A (100) B (90) C (80) D (70)

Questions on Selected Topic



All questions are answered thoroughly with great detail included about case and sources (Special Attention Ques 6).



All questions are answered adequately with some detail included about case and sources (Special Attention Ques 6).



Most questions are answered. Question 6 must be answered.



Some questions are answered. Question 6 must be answered.


Paper with Scenario



The created scenario must be on topic with a great amount of detail included about case and sources (Special Attention Ques 6).



The created scenario must be on topic with enough details to answer questions from activity one (Special Attention Ques 6).



The created scenario addresses topic and answers most of the questions from activity one (Special Attention Ques 6).



A scenario is created and it answers some of the questions from activity one (Special Attention Ques 6).







The reflection includes details about the process of online research. Some details are included. It reflects an understanding of the process and a response to the activity,


The reflection addresses the process of online research. It reflects an understanding of the process and a response to the activity,


The reflection shows an understanding of the process and a response to the activity,


It responds to the activity,


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