Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Evaluating Media Bias

published on: 3/27/2009

Contributing Teacher(s): Brittany Trott

Subject Area: Social Studies/Government/Civics

Grade Range: High School (9-12)

Materials Needed:

  • Computers 
  • Internet Access & Printer 
  • Handouts (given by teacher) 
  • Pencil or Pen 
  • Paper 
  • Highlighter


  1. Examine the concept of news reporting while recognizing the perspectives of others.
  2. Analyze and evaluate bias using various media sources.
  3. Write a summative essay evaluating the bias.
  4. Evaluate the effectiveness of the media in today’s society.

Essential Question:

  1. Analyze and evaluate how effective the media is when reporting today’s news?

Instructional Strategy: Infer, Predict, and Find Evidence

Process Standards:

  • Goal 1.2 conduct research to answer questions and evaluate information and ideas
  • Goal 1.4 use technological tools and other resources to locate, select and organize information
  • Goal 1.5 comprehend and evaluate written, visual and oral presentations and works
  • Goal 1.7 evaluate the accuracy of information and the reliability of its sources
  • Goal 1.6 discover and evaluate patterns and relationships in information, ideas and structures
  • Goal 1.8 organize data, information and ideas into useful forms (including charts, graphs, outlines)
  • Goal 4.1 explain reasoning and identify information used to support decisions

Content Standards:

  • Social Studies 7. The use of tools of social science inquiry (such as surveys, statistics, maps, documents)
  • Communication Arts 4. Writing formally (such as reports, narratives, essays) and informally (such as outlines, notes)
  • Social Studies 3. Principles and processes of governance systems

    Time Allowance: 5 class periods – 45 minutes in length (3 class periods using computers)

    Technological Resources:
    This lesson unit/plan is incorporating technology in a variety of ways. Students will be accessing the internet to find articles from various media sources, such as CNN, FOX News, NBC, etc. A printer should be available for students to print articles in order to highlight and analyze the bias or neutrality found. Students will also be accessing Microsoft Word or any other typing program to complete their five paragraph summative essay.

    As a follow-up lesson or activity students can view the breaking news segments or current events on television, such as the passage of the federal economic stimulus plan, and evaluate the bias (or neutrality) shown through that particular news source. Students will be using these skills for the remainder of their lives in order to obtain and evaluate the entire news story. They will soon realize that in order to understand the complete story, many times you have to search for your news. Students can also be given political cartoons to recognize bias and practice identifying ideologies. This is an excellent evaluation piece that will allow students to analyze media and incorporate news bias.

    This is a cross-curricular assignment in that the students will be typing a five paragraph essay. This essay will need to incorporate the English and writing skills that students have learned prior to this class and the essay will be graded for grammar and mechanics.

    In order to adapt this lesson, students can be given television segments to watch and the student can pick out bias, sensationalism, or word choice in the news broadcast. Students can also be given specific articles from the teacher in order to analyze and evaluate the bias. This will allow more control and guidance over the activity. The teacher may also adapt the number of articles that each group/student is required to do. A final suggestion is that some students may need guidance by telling them, for example, CNN tends to be more liberal in its news reporting. You can then ask the student to show you why it is liberal.

    Description: Students will choose a current event topic (particularly one that is controversial) and print seven articles, each from a different news source. They will evaluate the bias (or neutrality), sensationalism, and word choice found within each article. They will then write a five paragraph summative essay analyzing their findings. Students will be using these skills for the remainder of their lives in order to obtain and evaluate the entire news story. They will soon realize that in order to understand the complete story, many times you have to search for your news.

    Classroom Component:

    Please click here for the powerpoint presentation

    Evaluating Media Bias Unit Lesson Plan

    Essential Question:

    1. Evaluate how effective the media is when reporting today's news?

    Unit Description:

    Students will choose a current event topic (particularly one that is controversial) and print seven articles, each from a different news source. They will evaluate the bias, sensationalism, and word choice found within each article. They will then write a five paragraph summative essay analyzing their findings.

    Lesson Details and Explanations:

    Day 1: This day should be used and an introduction to media and media literacy. Students should have a background of comparing and contrasting the political ideologies, such as liberal, conservative, and moderate. The teacher can lead the class in a discussion about what media is and how they have impacted our society. See Media Notes and PowerPoint.

    Day 2: Have students silently read a fair-tale story. When they are finished, students will discuss the parts of the story, such as the narrator, the perspective of the story, any bias that is evident, protagonist and antagonist, facts, opinions, accusations, etc. They will then proceed to read the same story as a fractured-fairy-tale. This can be done with any story that has two perspectives Sleeping Beauty, Three Little Pigs, or The Wolf Who Cried Boy. Once they have read the "opposite perspective”, students will again discuss and compare the perspectives within the two stories. This will give the students a background into recognizing bias and multiple perspectives.

    Day 3: Show students a short clip from Penn and Teller: Banning Dihydrogen Monoxide. This is a short clip that can be found on the www.YouTube.com site under the search words of: Banning Dihydrogen Monoxide. This clip shows how persuasive language can influence your thoughts and make you believe something other than the truth.

    After the class has discussed this short clip, explain the Media Bias Project. Students can assemble into groups of 2 or 3 depending on class size and could also work by themselves, if necessary. They will need to choose a topic and begin to brainstorm the track that their project will take. If time, students can begin searching for articles online from different sources (ex. Fox News, CNN, ABC, NBC, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, etc.)

    See Media Project and Rubric attached.

    Day 4: This day should be used to search for articles. Once they have accessed their articles, they should be reading each article analyzing bias and choosing the persuasive language that is evident. Students should highlight the information they find and proceed to complete the table that is attached.

    Day 5: This day is for formulating and typing the summative essay. Students should be analyzing and evaluation their articles and typing the five paragraphs.

    *The teacher can extend the work time in class as needed, depending on the progress of the students.

    Media Unit Exam

    Liberal/Conservative: Label each as L – Liberal or C – Conservative (2 pt each)

    _____1. The upper class should be taxed at a higher percentage rate than the lower class.

    _____2.  The government should not restrict the sale of handguns because it would violate the Second Amendment.

    _____3.  Government programs for the disadvantaged deter people from helping themselves.

    _____4.  The government should not control abortion and other reproductive options.

    _____5.  The most effective way to obtain peace is through increasing our military strength.

    _____6.  This country should do whatever it possibly can to ensure full protection of the environment.

    _____7.  The best way to boost the economy is to lower taxes for everyone. 

    _____8.  The government should not rely on the military forces because it creates hatred that can lead to an increase in terrorism.

    _____9.  The problem with the government is that it is not able to do more to provide for social welfare and social programs

    _____10.  Parents should be able to get tax refunds in order to pay for a private school education.

    Short Answer / Multiple Choice:

    11. Which of the following defines media literacy? 1 pt

    a. a means of mass communication such as newspapers, radio, etc
    b. a way to analyze and evaluate the facts that the news presents
    c. a way to organize facts that the news presents
    d. a means to gather reliable news sources to get a balanced account of the news

    12. What is TV Speak? 2 pts

    13.  Why do think reporters/news stations feel it is necessary to use TV Speak?  2 pts


    14.  Place each of the political ideologies on the political spectrum (5 pts) and describe each in terms of taxes and government involvement: (2 pts each)

    number line










    15.  How do you argue the 1st Amendment controversy in relation to the media in today’s society? 2 pts


    16.  Do you agree that there is a link between youth crime and video violence?  What other factors would contribute to this problem?  Explain 2 pts


    17.  If you were a teenager that played video games, what are factors that would lure you into playing.   3 pts


    18.  What would you suggest to The New York Times or USA Today about how to hold journalists and writers more accountable for their stories, pictures, and headlines? 2 pts

    List at least 2 consequences that the particular media source has. 12 pts

    19.  Newspaper:



    20.  Radio:



    21.  Internet:



    22.  Television:



    23.  Read each selection below and analyze who you think wrote the article and write a word choice analysis describing your findings: 4 pts

    Taken from an article on www.msnbc.com on Jan. 11th, 2007

    BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraqi officials said Thursday that the U.S.-led forces detained five Iranians in an overnight raid on Tehran’s diplomatic mission in the northern city of Irbil.  The forces stormed the building at about 3 a.m., detaining the five staffers and confiscating computers and documents, two senior local Kurdish officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information. 

    BAGHDAD, Iraq - U.S. troops launched two raids on Iranian targets in Iraq yesterday, following through on President Bush's vow to confront and break up Tehran's networks inside Iraq. Five Iranians were detained, and vast amounts of documents and computer data were confiscated, according to U.S., Iraqi and Iranian officials.

    For additional information contact :
    Brittany Trott
    Lafayette Sr. High
    Rockwood R-VI
    (636) 458-7200

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