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Monitor how different media cover the same news issues and events
Getting news from multiple venues and multiple media (print, radio, TV, and online): do different types of media cover the same stories? Why get information from multiple sources?
- Class project: Find three different types of news outlets’ coverage of the same story (i.e. magazines, newspapers, radio, TV, online, etc.). What are the difference in the stories ? Are the differences for logistical reasons (i.e. one outlet had more time or one outlet gave more space to the story) or are they for political or demographic reasons (i.e. one outlet has a audience of business and professional people and the other has an audience which is less educated and well-paid)? What do you learn from reading/hearing/seeing all three stories that you wouldn’t have learned from just getting one of the stories?
- Role-play exercise: A major natural disaster (earthquake, cyclone, flood, heatwave, etc.) has just hit and your immediate area is the center of the devastation. Hundreds, perhaps thousands are dead. Houses and other buildings have collapsed. Local and national officials, including medical personnel and the armed forces are scrambling to help. Relief flights are beginning to come in to the area. Communications between your area and the outside world remains possible via phone and Internet.
Divide the class into three.
- One group of students should pretend to be international reporters from international news organizations (most of whom don’t speak the local language)—the BBC, CNNI, Al Jazeera, the Associated Press, etc.
➢ Have the students who are the international journalists decide what stories they are going to cover. Who is the primary audience for their stories? How will they find out what happened? Who will they talk to?
- One group of students should pretend to be local reporters from the local news organizations—print, radio and TV outlets.
➢ Have the students who are the local journalists decide what stories they are going to cover. Who is the primary audience for their stories? How will they find out what happened? Who will they talk to?
- One group of students should pretend to be local citizens who have their own blog sites online.
➢ Have the students who are the local bloggers decide what information they are going to post on their own websites. Who will be their audience?
- What are the advantages and limitations of each group “covering” this disaster?
- Follow-up class discussion: If there were no local reporters on the story—if all the news came from people who were not living in the area—what type of information would likely not be covered? Who would lose out?
- Class discussion: The Internet has led to the emergence of a new type of reporter. The citizen journalist may be someone with interest in local events and writes about these happenings on what is called a blog. The blogger may be a reporter, with journalism training, who seeks another and, perhaps, more personal outlet for their reporting. But more often, bloggers are individuals in a community, with no formal journalism training, who have something to say and the Internet provides the platform for them to do this on a global scale.
- Student exercise: Where do you place bloggers in your list of trustworthy news sources? As a news consumer, do you need to take additional steps to verify a blogger’s reporting? If so, what?
- Student exercise: What kind of information can ordinary citizens provide via the Internet or cell phone? Can those citizen-bloggers be a substitute for local reporters in a crisis? Why or why not? What about in general (when there is no crisis, but just every day news is occurring)?