How the Medium Shapes the Message
Students analyze different news sources to gain an understanding of how today’s diverse media environment shapes the information we receive.
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- Current Events
- Have available or print four copies of four news media types (one copy per group). Possible sources include:
- A local newspaper
- The front page of a newspaper in another state (available daily at www.newseum.org/todaysfrontpages)
- A homepage of an international news site (for example: www.bbc.com, www.xinhuanet.com/english or www.aljazeera.com)
- A page from a blog (for example: www.pressthink.org or www.drudgereport.com)
- A printout of a news-based Twitter feed (for example: PBS NewsHour at @Newshour, The Wall Street Journal at @WSJ)
- Print copies of The Medium Shapes the Message worksheet, one per student.
<li>Break your class into four groups. Give each group a copy of the local newspaper, a printout of each of the other three types of media and The Medium Shapes the Message worksheet.</li>
<li>In groups, students analyze each media type and complete their worksheets.</li>
Compare and contrast students’ findings. Possible prompts include:
<li>Which news media that you looked at seems to cover the most stories? The least? Why?</li>
<li>Who do you think the audience of each news source is? How are their demographics similar/different?</li>
<li>In the case of stories that appear in more than one place, how does the coverage differ from one source to the next? Why is it different?</li>
<li>How does the content and layout (content organization) of online news organizations differ from that of print news sources? From social media sources?</li>
<li>Why do these front pages and home pages feature different stories?</li>
<li>Which source is most reliable? Least reliable? Most likely to be the first to have breaking news? How do you know?</li>
<li>What will future media will look like? Will they resemble something today, or go in a totally new direction?</li>
Common Core State Standards: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.6Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.