Close Menu

The Making of Fake News: A Case Study

Show details +

An NPR investigation into a fake news creator forms the basis for an exploration of the motivations and methods behind fake news stories.

GRADE LEVEL: Middle and high school

TIME: 30-60 minutes

MATERIALS: Access to the NPR story We Tracked Down a Fake-News Creator in the Suburbs. Here’s What We Learned (, audio and/or written transcript); copies of The Making of Fake News: A Case Study worksheet (download)

Note: The interview excerpts following the news story include content that may not be acceptable for some students, and you may wish to print the news story only.


  1. Read or listen to the NPR story in its entirety. Decide how much of the interview you will make available to your students.
  2. Make copies of The Making of Fake News worksheet, one per student.

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. Ask your students what they’ve heard about fake news. Discuss their responses and create a class definition of “fake news.” Be sure to differentiate between the true definition of fake news — stories that are completely fabricated/fictional — and the other ways in which the term is being used, such as to describe news that you disagree with, news that is biased, or news that is flawed. Explain that you will be focusing on fake news meaning false news.
  2. Ask your students why they think individuals create fake news stories and discuss their answers. Tell them they will learn more about possible motivations by reading/listening to an investigation conducted by NPR, where the reporters used some detective work to track down one of the anonymous creators of these stories.
  3. Have your students read or listen to the NPR story individually or in small groups and complete the accompanying worksheet.
  4. Discuss their responses and the questions below.
+ More


  1. Which do you think is more work: creating fake news or reporting real news? Explain.
  2. Do you think Jestin Coler is being honest about why he creates fake news? Explain.
  3. What are the dangers of fake news?
  4. Do you think fake news is a problem? Why or why not? And if so, what can we do to address this problem?
  5. Do you think Coler is right that fake news is going to continue to grow? Why or why not?
+ More

Find more activities

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

Special Thanks

This content was made available in partnership with

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
  • Newseum Learning Center

    Who's Afraid of Fake News? Responding to Misleading Media

    Even if your students can spot fake news, what should they do about it? Explore the real consequences of this phenomenon and how you can help your students shape the reach and impact of fake news. (In beta testing for 2017-2018 school year.)

    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