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Defend the importance of Freedom of Expression: for good governance, economic development, informed citizens & global pluralism

These lesson plans highlight the connections between media literacy and civil society — including good governance, economic development and informed citizenship. These lessons teach students to defend the importance of freedom of expression, to promote news literacy by creating and supporting good media, and to motivate media to better cover global issues and events.  Students learn to:

DEFEND why freedom of expression is essential to the building and supporting of communities and civil society
DEFEND why the rule of law is necessary to freedom of expression
DEFEND the value of good sourcing
DEFEND the need for investigative reporting
DEFEND the role of journalists in society (especially those journalists at physical or emotional risk for covering the stories that the powerful don’t want to be told)
DEFEND the role of media in strengthening communication across divides
DEFEND the value of a free press: In times of crisis
DEFEND the value of a free press: Every day



Students who complete some or all of these lesson plans will have worked through the following points:

  • Media have a responsibility to report news and information ethically. The Preamble to the Code of Ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists states: “Public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty. Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist’s credibility.”

  • Insurgents, criminals, terrorists and corrupt politicians understand very well that it is the months or years of digging by professional reporters, most of them supported by traditional news organizations, that will expose misdeeds.

  • Investigative reporting provides the unambiguous evidence and credible “content” — documents, sources, doggedly checked and rechecked details —that the public desperately needs for a functioning, civilized, democratic and ultimately free society.

  • Honest and respectful communication among different sectors of society rarely occurs naturally. For this reason, open and pluralistic media are critical to fostering a respectful dialogue about any issue. Through media, a non-threatening informed debate can occur among all stakeholders. Media can ensure all voices in a community can be heard.

  • By letting every idea be examined and questioned, Freedom of Expression can serve as a “safety value” in a community, allowing people to vent their anger and frustrations and giving them a chance to be heard by their neighbors and in the corridors of power.

  • The worth of citizenship is devalued when information is censored or manipulated in times of crisis. Media play a central role as the key conduit for information and a potential catalyst for discussion and action.

Freedom of Expression inherently means listening to voices, raising questions and forwarding ideas that are outside the political and at times social or cultural mainstream majority. Ensuring freedom for media around the world that dare to publish those voices and questions and ideas is a priority.