Are You Getting the Whole Truth?

It is a given in our society that a free, uncensored press is essential to preserving our democracy and enabling citizens to make informed decisions. This freedom, however, places the responsibility for discerning the truth on the shoulders of every citizen. In this assignment, students will compare how the same story or topic is reported by different types and viewpoints of media. In collaborative groups, students will critically analyze these reports in order to determine objectivity, detect bias, and gauge the intended effect on public opinion. Each group will present its analyses and conclusions in a digital slideshow presentation.
Subjects: Social Studies, US Government
Prior Knowledge: Students should be familiar with the role of freedom of the press in our democratic system. Students should know how to use both library online databases, such as EBSCO (provided to schools by Texas State Library and Archives Commission, TEA and ESCs), and Internet search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing) to conduct independent research. Students should have some practice in critically reading controversial issues to prepare them for independent analysis of different viewpoints in the media. Students should be able to work collaboratively in small groups to accomplish and present a group task.
Key Concepts and Terms: Audience (Readers, Listener, Viewers), Bipartisan, Broadcasting Vs. Narrowcasting, Conservative, Content Bias, Coverage Bias, Government or Media Watchdogs, Internet or “Cyber” Journalism, Left-wing, Liberal, Mainstream, Mass Media, Media as Gatekeeper of the News, Media Bias, Objectivity, Partisan(ship), Political Journalist, Propaganda, Right-wing, Selective Reporting, Story Placement
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