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30-60 minutes
  • Current Events
  • Elections
  • Journalism
  • Politics
  • 6-12

  1. Discuss the difference between positive, negative and neutral coverage as a class.
    • Positive coverage highlights the positive things — the reasons why people should like the president and/or agree with the president’s message.
    • Negative coverage is critical or highlights the negative things — the reasons why people shouldn’t like the president and/or agree with the president’s message.
    • Neutral coverage neither supports nor detracts — simply presents information.
  1. Have students individually or in groups choose a current event/topic involving the president, such as a trip or speech, new policy/program/law, etc. Instruct them to find five stories from different sources on the selected topic. Think about using both traditional media outlets (such as a newspaper, magazines or a national nightly TV news show) and more cutting edge outlets (such as a blog or a satire news show).
  2. They should complete the tracking chart on the worksheet to compare how different media outlets reported the same story.
  3. Have students share their findings.

  • Friend or Foe? worksheet (download), one per student 
  • Newspapers, magazines or Internet access

  • Describe the overall tone of news coverage of the president. Was it generally positive, negative or neutral?
  • How did tone vary by news outlet? Did it vary by topic or was it across-the-board regardless of topic?
  • What elements of the news story did you use to determine its tone (headline, loaded words, photos, editorial cartoon, negative quotes, sarcasm, humor, etc.)?
  • What impact could positive, negative and neutral coverage have on a president or his/her administration?


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