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60-90 minutes
  • Civil Rights
  • Journalism
  • 6-12

(Note: For more support, see expanded procedure in downloadable lesson plan.)

  1. As a class, define the term news report and discuss the “reporter’s questions”— who, what, where, when, why and how.
  2. Ask the class why newspaper reports were important to readers and participants during the civil rights movement.
  3. Explain that the purpose of this lesson is to look at newspaper coverage of civil rights from different newspapers around the country.
  4. Read and discuss the lead article on The Augusta Courier (found under 1965 on the map below). How does its coverage compare to what you know about Martin Luther King Jr.? Is it biased or objective?
  5. Create a list of choices made by the Courier on the board. Refer to the Press Choices and Do’s and Don’ts of Journalism handouts for analysis of The Augusta Courier and examples of good journalism practices.
  6. Explain that freedom of the press allows newspapers to print what they want, with some limits.
  7. Discuss how a newspaper’s choices can influence their readers.
  8. Students then apply this knowledge independently by choosing two historical civil rights front pages and completing the Analysis of a News Report worksheet. Front pages can be found in the media map (below).

  • Analysis of a News Report worksheet (download), one per student
  • Press Choices and Do’s and Don’ts of Journalism handouts (download), for teacher reference
  • Internet access to examine Civil Rights Media Map

Have students share their findings. Ask:

  • What content and layout similarities and differences do you notice about the newspapers? What similarities and differences do you notice about the articles?
  • In terms of the news report best practices we talked about earlier, what are some of the strengths and weaknesses of each report?
  • Does the content in each report confirm, deepen or contradict your prior knowledge about the event? How?
  • Why do you think the reporters and editors made these content and layout choices? What factors may have influenced these choices?

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