SchoolJournalism.org.

News and Media Literacy Lessons

Below, you will find lesson plans for news, media and information literacy, including lesson plans from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation Why News Matters initiative, the Journalism Education Association, The News Literacy Project, The Center for News Literacy at Stonybrook University, and Columbia Links.

SchoolJournalism.org also has lesson plans for journalism and civic engagement and action.

News Literacy

  • Information or Influence? Creating a Mission
    A lesson that asks students to develop a mission for their publication keeping in mind the power and various responsibilities that the media has.
  • Reliable Sources, provided by Columbia Links
    This lesson presents materials and activities for students to dig deeply to find and analyze primary news sources, evaluate credibility and draw conclusions about news items to improve their “news literacy.”

American Press Institute’s Introductory News Literacy Units
These are lightweight, general usage lesson plans for introducing middle school students to how to read and understand news media and current events. While the Institute offers more specific and in-depth materials and ideas for promoting news literacy, these new units provide a resource for the time-pressed teacher working with students at an important age. Split into three units of one-to-two weeks each, the curriculum briefly overviews critical elements in news understanding and healthy processes for determining source information and bias. Individual lessons can be adapted and used to fit specific classroom needs.

  • The Black and White of News Reporting
    A unit examining the portrayal of race in the media — both in advertising and in news reporting. It asks students to identify and assess it critically.
  • CHECK
    An infographic and accompanying lesson plan from The News Literacy Project give educators a way to apply news literacy to examples of information they or their students select.
  • A Classroom Discourse on Diversity
    A unit that explores the depiction of minorities, women and the elderly, among others in modern media and media from 30 years ago. The great differences between the eras allows diversity to be discussed more easily.
  • Comparing News Sources: Where Would You Turn?
    A unit that asks students to look at several sources of news — print, TV, radio — and ties in “Farenheit 451.”
  • Digital Collection of Short News Literacy Lessons
    The News Literacy Project offers lesson plans to educators and others interested in news literacy on its Learn Channel.
  • Do Americans Even Care About Hard News?
    Will people watch or read pure hard news and commentary? Does the content of a news program, magazine or newspaper affect what we wish to consume or buy? Does the ownership of those outlets matter?
  • An Economic Snapshot
    Students will explore the current state of the economy on a national as well as a local level and compare their perception of the state of the economy with recent media reporting. They will then create a “state of the economy” report on economic conditions in their area.
  • Editorials on Ethical Issues
    This lesson asks students: What role do you have in shaping – through advocacy and action – a society you deem to be an ethical society? It then asks them to express these thoughts through editorials, critiquing along the way.
  • Evaluating News Coverage: September 11
    A plan for 11th- or 12th-grade classes to evaluate different publications’ coverage of the Sept. 11 anniversary.
  • How Does the Public Judge What a Good News Source Is?
    What is or what makes news? What criteria should people use to be critical news consumers? How can the public discern news from entertainment?
  • The Importance of Diversity in Reporting the News
    Two units explaining the importance of diversity in the media and giving students a chance to work out why it’s important. Two related units that integrate a visit from a newspaper editor.
  • Journalism Education Association — Understanding News Literacy
    Developed by Megan Fromm for the Journalism Education Association and made possible through a grant from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.
  • Lesson: A Consumer’s Guide to Sourcing in News Reports
    An e-learning lesson teaching teens how to evaluate sourcing in a news story with Paul Saltzman of the Chicago Sun-Times.
  • Media’s Impact: In what ways and how fully do the media shape public opinion, debate, and policy?
    Annemarie Conway of Michigan asks students to think carefully about the media they use and its effect on their thinking and actions.
  • The News Literacy Project Lie Detector Challenge
    Provides teachers with an new example of information of indeterminate credibility each month and offers students a chance to submit a fact-check report as part of a monthly contest.
  • Reliable Sources, provided by Columbia Links
    This lesson presents materials and activities for students to dig deeply to find and analyze primary news sources, evaluate credibility and draw conclusions about news items to improve their “news literacy.”
  • The News: Let Me Entertain You
    Has pursuit of profit by news organizations made them alter their newscasts to be more entertaining?
  • Tabloid Tales: Where is the News Taking Us — Or Where are We Taking the News?
    What is the difference between “hard news,” “soft news,” “infotainment”, and “tabloid journalism”? What can we predict for the style and tone of news in the future?
  • That’s Infotainment! (or What is News?)
    What information should the news contain? How has the content of political news change since 1960? Why has the content of political news changed since then? Who is responsible?
  • To Be or To Buy: That is the Question
    What is the function of news — to create citizens or consumers? An examination of common news outlets, ownership and the role of the reader/viewer in all this.
  • Searchlights and Sunglasses
    A free digital book and learning tool from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s Eric Newton. For specific ideas on how to teach news literacy in your classroom, check out the “learning layer” activity called “How do you know what to believe?
  • A Tough Sell: Newspapers to Teens
    What motivates people to read newspapers? What is the difference between a reliable and an unreliable newspaper? To whom do newspapers appeal? Is telling the truth always justified? Who decides? When might it be better to refrain from “telling all”?
  • Weekly Lesson Feed and Other Classroom Materials
    Prepared by the Center for News Literacy at Stonybrook University.

Information Literacy

  • Check It Out on the Web
    Students need to know how to find accurate information on the Internet. By giving them the goal of learning about online newspapers, they can research a topic (putting their school newspaper online) as well as use Internet research techniques.
  • Newspapers in the Digital Age
    In this lesson, students will analyze the changes that print media sources have undergone in the past several years. Students will evaluate whether Internet news sources can be considered reliable and what makes a news source credible. They will also look at a specific scenario and argue whether it violates a journalists’ First Amendment rights.

Media Literacy

  • American Government in the Media
    How do various media sources portray the U.S. government to the American public?
  • The Anatomy of Public Opinion — Vox Populi Scrutinized
    An examination of several nationally syndicated columnists and the local newspaper helps critical thinking about opinions — forming them, expressing them, writing them, etc.
  • The Battle for Congress: Midterm Elections 2010
    In this lesson, students will learn how the use of language can impact a political message, how this has affected recent political campaigns, and how today’s media outlets impact the way these messages are received.
  • The Black and White of News Reporting
    A unit examining the portrayal of race in the media — both in advertising and in news reporting. It asks students to identify and assess it critically.
  • Evaluating News Broadcasts
    Asks students — who could be in high school, middle school or elementary — to evaluate news broadcasts and work to create their own broadcast.
  • Expressing Opinion for Mass Consumption
    A specific unit to get at the purpose and qualities of editorial pages and how editorial differ from news stories. Also delves into editorial writing and how to do it.
  • How Does the Medium Affect the Message: Comparing Print to Electronic Media
    What effect can the medium have on conveying the message to the audience? How can the understanding of ideas be influenced by the medium (emotional response, retention, etc.)? What are some techniques used?
  • Introducing Diversity into Media Coverage
    Garcia, a teacher in Tampa, asks students to ID bias and inequity in reporting that may exist in mainstream media and consider if this is an issue for the students’ own paper.
  • Recognizing Types of Propaganda in Advertising
    An extensive unit that explores propaganda used in advertising, politics and more. Identifies and gives examples of seven types and asks students to find examples and create their own. Also useful in helping students to look critically at PR material.
  • The Media and Local Government
    What role is the role of the media in determining the direction of local government? Who decides what direction local government should go? (The media, elected officials or the citizens? Who should decide?)
  • News “Framing” through Photographs and Videotapes
    “A picture is worth a thousand words,” but do the media exploit the power of photographs and videotapes to influence public opinion?
  • Propaganda: You Better Believe It
    Propaganda, sometimes in the form of public relations, is common in our lives, used by presidents, corporate executives and government employees alike. It’s important for students to understand what it is and how to decipher and get around it.
  • Television: Issues vs. Image
    How do television and newspapers differ in their handling of events and issues? How can we become more discerning in our viewing so that we elect leaders and not image?
  • The Ultimate Presidents’ Sale
    Especially useful in an election year, this plan asks students to look at political advertising critically.
  • Understanding Economic Principles through Media Education
    A unit on economic and media literacy exploring the goals of media conglomerates, the outcome of corporate ownership of media outlets and the responsibility of corporate interests in relationship to consumers.

Overview

  • Be a Consumer of News
    A lesson that has students compare stories in The New York Times, USA Today and the local newspaper, looking at leads, interview technique and the like.
  • Becoming an Informed Consumer of Print Journalism
    A look at different publications – shoppers, weeklies, regional dailies, metro dailies and national newspapers is instructive. How does each differ? What are they motivated by? Who is their audience?
  • Do Americans Even Care About Hard News?
    Will people watch or read pure hard news and commentary? Does the content of a news program, magazine or newspaper affect what we wish to consume or buy? Does the ownership of those outlets matter?
  • Getting the Straight Scoop
    A unit on what is “important” and what is “interesting” in news. Students are asked to compare and contrast news outlets on the same story. Later, they write a paper on the topic and what they learned.
Print Friendly