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30-60 minutes
  • Civil Rights
  • Current Events
  • Journalism
  • 6-12

  1. Tell students that in 2004, the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader issued an apology for its failure to adequately cover the civil rights movement.  In 2000, The Jackson (Tenn.) Sun published a series of articles on the civil rights movement in Jackson.  It also has created an online resource that chronicles the events in Jackson in the 1950s and 1960s.
  2. Distribute copies of the articles and worksheet. Give students time to read them and complete the worksheet.

  • Articles about the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader and The Jackson (Tenn.) Sun (download), one per student.  
  • Coverage Now of Coverage Then worksheet (download), one per student.  


Review their answers. Ask students: What role do editors today have for others’ errors or bad judgment? Possible prompts:

  • What are some of the reasons that these two newspapers failed to cover newsworthy events involving civil rights issues in the 1950s and 1960s?
  • The Jackson Sun chose to run a series of articles about the civil rights movement and create an online resource. The Lexington Herald-Leader chose to issue an apology for “neglecting to cover the civil rights” movement and analyzed the newspaper’s lack of coverage.  Which do you think was a better approach?
  • If you were the editor of a paper that had “neglected to cover the civil rights movement,” would you issue an apology?  Create an online resource?  Or do something altogether different? If so, what and why?
  • How do you think the lack of coverage by these two papers may have affected events in these two cities?  What is the effect of newsworthy events not being covered by the local newspaper?

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