Close Menu

What Would You Do? Media Ethics Scenarios

Show details +

This activity helps students apply journalism standards of accuracy, fairness and clarity in deciding how to report the news.

GRADE LEVEL: Middle and high school

TIME: Less than 30 minutes

MATERIALS: Media Ethics Scenarios worksheet (download), scenarios teacher key (download), Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics (optional, download)

PREPARE: Print copies of the worksheet, one per student or small group. Print copies of SPJ Code of Ethics, if desired.

Placing images behind a login wall allows us to negotiate lower copyright costs and ensures that we keep all NewseumED resources free for the education community.

Sign in for full access.

Don’t have premium access? It’s free. All you have to do is register.


Overview PDF DOC
Worksheets PDF DOC
Extensions PDF DOC
Full Packet PDF DOC

To request a large print or Braille version, call 202.292.6650.


1. Tell students: Journalists strive to be accurate, fair and clear in their reporting. News organizations and professional groups have codes to guide ethical behavior.

  • Note: If time and desired, go over the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics.

2. Individually or in small groups, have students read each scenario on the worksheet and answer the questions. How would they handle the situation if they were editors of their school newspaper?

+ More


Have students or groups share their decisions and reasoning. Use the answer key to help guide the discussion.

  • Are there disagreements? If so, why?
  • What specific standards guided their decisions?
  • Did personal and professional ethics clash in any of their decisions?
+ More

Find more activities

We’ve narrowed down your choices based on this activity. To see more options, browse all activities.

Other activities like this one

EDTools like this one

EDClasses & Training related to this activity

  • Newseum Learning Center

    Fighting Fake News — Educators Workshop

    Arm your students with the skills they need to strike a balance between cynic and sucker as they navigate a media landscape where real and fake sometimes look all too similar.

    This class is for:

    • Educators
  • Online and/or Newseum Learning Center

    Navigating NewseumED

    In this hands-on introduction to our website, you'll learn how to find primary sources, videos, lessons and interactives to support your learning objectives in the classroom or on a field trip.

    This class is for:

    • Educators

EDClasses & Training

Request a class or workshop to get personalized instruction from Newseum Education staff.


Dive into specially curated collections of primary sources and lessons on civil rights, women's suffrage and more.


Respond to breaking news and find new ways to teach standard topics with tips from NewseumED staff.

  • The primary and secondary resources are totally awesome!”

    Hassan Mims Social Studies, Grades 9-12
  • The Newseum is a unique experience. It connects real world events to the heart of each individual.”

    Jane Peterson English, Grade 8
  • All the content from NewseumED is high quality and fully accessible for my students. That makes it invaluable!”

    Shay Taylor Education Technology Specialist, Grades 9-12 and college