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

  1. In advance: Set up the video for students to view as a class. Review these guides to left- and right-leaning websites in case your students need help selecting a contemporary source to analyze: University of Michigan Research Guide (, Wall Street Journal: Blue Feed, Red Feed (
  2. Tell students that they are going to practice using two tools to identify bias in the news media.
  3. Show the E.S.C.A.P.E. Junk News poster to the class and review the keys to identifying context and execution. Ask students for examples of incomplete information and leading word choices. (Some ideas: Context — a story about new refrigerators in the school fails to note that dozens of students were sickened by poorly stored food; Execution — adjectives that suggest opinion, such as “wonderful” or “unfortunate”)
  4. Have students view “How to Decode a Historical Front Page” and fill out Part 1 of the worksheet. Discuss their answers.
  5. Tell students they are going to take what they’ve learned from looking closely at a page from history and look closely at a contemporary news story.
  6. Give students internet access and have them complete Part 2 the worksheet. If they struggle to find potentially biased news sources, supply suggestions from the sources above.

  • Internet access to view the  “How to Decode a Historical Front Page” video (above)
  • Recognizing Bias worksheet (download), one per student
  • E.S.C.A.P.E. Junk News poster (download), print or project
  • Recognizing Bias student example (optional, download)


  1. Was it difficult to determine if a source was biased? Do you feel confident about your conclusion? Explain.
  2. How hard was it to gain a better understanding of the context surrounding your story?
  3. What are some of the execution choices you saw that you think indicate bias?
  4. In your daily life, is bias something you think about as you access content through social media or on other online outlets? Do you regularly look at more than one source for news or information in your daily life?
  5. Other than political bias, what other types of bias might wind up unfairly shaping a news story?
  6. What tips would you give someone who wants to avoid biased news stories?

Have students apply the questions from the second half of the worksheet to a source they believe is NOT biased. Does their close analysis support their original opinion of this source?

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