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Monitor and compare media coverage

These lesson plans focus on giving students a set of critical skills — comprehension, analysis, evaluation — to be used to help them appreciate how media cover news. The lesson plans teach students how to identify what “news” matters, how to monitor media coverage, and how to understand the media’s role in shaping global issues and events.  Students learn to:

MONITOR how different media cover the same news issues and events
MONITOR how different media handle graphic images
MONITOR how media cover politics and public policy
MONITOR how news coverage affects social and corporate institutions—schools, religious institutions, community groups, local or national businesses, etc..
MONITOR how media affect culture and politics
MONITOR the differences between state-controlled (and/or state-owned) media and editorially independent or private media
MONITOR the business of media
MONITOR media and other people’s rights
MONITOR media and gender issues
MONITOR media and developing/non-western countries
MONITOR stereotypes in entertainment media
MONITOR media for partisan reporting



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

  • Access to information is critical for the smooth functioning of news media and for the society to hold its political, religious, business and community leadership accountable. Freedom of information laws are an important part of creating the enabling environment necessary for independent and pluralistic media to thrive.

  • Independent media draw their power from reporting responsibly on the communities they serve. Ethical reporting—accurate and fair coverage—in turn gives the public the knowledge they need to participate in and build a civil, democratic society.

  • A free and pluralistic media sector—one that crosses media platforms (print, broadcast, online) and political perspectives—helps communities better reflect on themselves

  • If those in power manipulate journalists, if those journalists don’t protest against that manipulation—or willing capitulate to it—the media become just another arm of authority, a propaganda tool to distract, deceive and betray the public

  • Freedom of Expression works to ensure that more than a select few are able to determine what is expressed and discussed in the media. When media control is dispersed into many hands, opinions that are not popular can often still find a forum.

  • Effective local and online media outlets can give people the means to participate in democratic processes. They can fill the void left by corporate media interested in reaching large audiences that ironically may not include the underrepresented or marginalized populations in a society.

  • The increasing concentration of ownership of the sources of news and information into fewer and fewer hands is one of the greatest contemporary threats to freedom of expression. When media ownership is concentrated, those few owners exercise a great deal of control over the character of the local or national discussion of issues.

  • The fact that the news has become a profit center for many owners means that cost considerations lie behind decisions about what stories to cover, how much to cover them, and what angles to push. Ultimately the question becomes very basic: how much is news and information valued?