Objective: Students will follow a current events news item for one week(or two for added detail) in various sources and write a paper summarizing their findings on the coverage. They will also give a brief oral report to inform the class of what they uncovered.
Introduction: As a class we spend a few minutes a day summarizing current event items. To introduce students to the newspapers and newsmagazines they will be required to follow the same news item from Monday through Thursday of a given week. For time purposes each class member will be assigned a week to do their research so that each student will do one paper a marking period.
Student Responsibilities: Students must look at a local paper, a newsmagizine and a national paper for their report which can be done online or with print materials. They must follow the event in each paper and on Friday they will give a brief oral report to the class(10 minutes)about their event and any differences or bias in coverage. The following Tuesday a paper will be due.
The Paper: The paper will include a summary of how each source covered the event(about 2 paragraphs per source). The paper will then critique each source's coverage and point out any bias or differences in coverage and then pick which source they felt was the best and why. They should also try to predict what they think will happen in the weeks to come. The critique and opinion portion should be about 3-4 paragraphs. Each student will also include a bibliography.
Other options: Turn into a group project and follow the topic all marking period. Another option would be to make a creative scrapbook of the event with copies of articles they critiqued or any bias they found highlighted. If they disagreed with an article they could also write a letter to the editor for extra credit.
Grade level: I am going to do this with my 8th grade students for the first time this year but this could be applied to any grade level by changing requirements. Students need to be told to pick a big story to be able to do this. Most likely the same event would be covered in a newspaper the whole week and would be included in a news type magazine.
Some news magazines to suggest: Newsweek, Time, U.S. News and World Reports.
Some newspapers to suggest: Philadelphia Inquirer, Washington Post, New York Times.
Resources: The school library or local library would have copies of these sources as well as the internet. Requiring copies of each article could be an option but could get expensive for those who do not have a home newspaper subscription. Watching CNN or the local news could also be an added component to the paper but this lesson is to focus on exposure to the written word. Listed below are some websites to various news sources.