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Duration
30-60 minutes
Topic(s)
  • Current Events
  • Elections
  • Journalism
  • Politics
Grade(s)
  • 6-12

  1. Divide students into small groups. Students may also work individually.
  2. Ask them to define “image.” Tell them political candidates work hard to convey certain ideas about themselves when they campaign. Candidates are concerned about how the public sees them and what the public believes about them as they seek votes. What kind of image do you think they want to project.
  3. Note that political candidates use campaign media, such as ads and social media posts, as well as staged photo ops, to shape their own image, but that news media coverage can also affect a candidate’s image in the public eye, for better or worse. The words journalists use and the photographs and video clips they select to include in news stories can make a difference in what people think of that candidate.
  4. Have students find 10 photos and/or other images of a current or recent candidate for public office. They should use a range of sources – newspapers, websites, blogs, video sites, the candidate’s website/social media accounts, etc. – and no more than two from any one source.
  5. Students should use the template on the worksheet to answer questions for each image, and then write two or three summary paragraphs of their findings using the prompts.

  • It’s All About Image worksheet (download), one per student or small group  
  • Newspapers, magazines or internet access

Ask students to share their summaries, then discuss as a class. Possible prompts include:

  • Is there variety in the types of image the candidates create? What type of image is most common?
  • How did you decide if an image was candid or staged? What clues or tools did you use?
  • What, if anything, do the images reveal about a candidate's character? About their political platforms or priorities?
  • How do the images produced by candidates compare with those captured by the professional news media? With those created or captured by the general public (supporters, opponents, citizen journalists, etc.)?
  • What don't the images tell you about the candidates?

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