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Duration
Less than 30 minutes
Topic(s)
  • Cold War
  • Journalism
  • Politics
  • World History
Grade(s)
  • 9-12
  • College/University

All news coverage and interviews are primary sources. Some of these sources include graphic images. 

  1. Warm-up questions (see teacher key in lesson plan download for possible answers)
    • What do you know about the Cold War and the Berlin Wall?
    • How do we get information about what our government is doing?
    • What would it be like to live in a society where you were not allowed to leave your city or read/watch/listen to the news that interests you?
  2. Hand out copies of the worksheet. Students should read the questions before you start the video and take notes during it.
  3. Watch the video.
  4. The after-you-watch comprehensive questions can be done in class or for homework.

   

  • “The Berlin Wall and the Press” Video Lesson worksheet (download), one per student
  • Internet connection to watch “The Berlin Wall and the Press” video
  • “Berlin Wall” handout (download, optional)

Discuss or assign one or more of these questions as short essays for homework:

  • Walls can stop people but not radio and television transmissions. What role did radio and television news play in the fall of the Berlin Wall? What could radio and television do that print news could not?
  • Today, where do we see countries building walls? These could be physical barriers or virtual barriers (to information, ideas, etc.). What are the purposes of these walls? How do they compare and contrast to the Berlin Wall?
  • How did the wall affect the lives of East Berliners? How did the wall affect the lives of West Berliners? Compare and contrast life on both sides of the wall.
  • What effects did the fall of the Berlin Wall have on people far away in the United States? What were the immediate consequences? What were the long-term consequences?
  • Reuven Frank described the arrangement NBC made for documenting a tunnel dig and escape from East Berlin: “We will supply material. They have to give us a bill, and we will pay it, and in return we have the right to film. Period.” Do you find this arrangement acceptable? What are the pros and cons of paying for access to a news story?
  • What is propaganda? How was it used by authorities in both East and West Berlin? What does propaganda look like today? Is using propaganda ever acceptable?
  • How were people living in East Berlin depicted in the media? How were people who escaped from East Berlin depicted? Do you think the depiction of escapees encouraged other East Berliners to try to escape? If so, should the news media be wary of encouraging people to attempt something very dangerous?
  • Why did RIAS self-censor its coverage of the 1953 worker demonstrations? Do you think self-censorship occurs in the news media today? When might the media want to hold back information?

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