When the News Media Make Mistakes
Freedom of press doesn’t promise perfection. By exploring corrections, students learn why the news media make mistakes and what happens.
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- Ask your students, do you think journalists ever make mistakes? Discuss why this might happen.
- Ask your students if they are familiar with the First Amendment? Discuss how it allows news media to publish mistakes.
- Explain that the freedom of press is central to the lesson. Ask them what the freedom of the press means.
- Debate whether or not the freedom of the press requires the press to be accurate. (No.)
- Pass out When the News Media Make Mistakes worksheet and give students access to news media or the Internet. Students can work individually or in small groups.
- Tell students to look for three examples of media corrections and then answer the questions for each example on the worksheet.
- Discuss how the corrections were presented? Were they easy to locate?
- Pass out the Accuracy Checklist. Tell them they can use this checklist when doing their own research or assignments. Do your students think reporters/editors should use a checklist to reduce errors? Are there other things they would add to the checklist? How can mistakes still happen?
- Use the checklist to determine if it could have stopped the mistakes students found. (For example, if a story had the wrong state for a city, could the reporter have checked a map?)
- When the News Media Make Mistakes worksheet (download), one per student
- Accuracy Checklist worksheet (download), one per student
- Newspapers, magazines or internet access , one per student
- Do you think most errors are publicly corrected? Why or why not?
- What problems could occur if a news organization frequently publishes mistakes?
- Discuss with the class how they would publish corrections if they were an editor.
- What will they look like?
- Where/when will they be published?
- Will mistakes be treated equally?
- Will you give the name of the reporter/editor who made the mistake?
- Will you repeat the misinformation with the corrected information?
- Will you notify people directly affected by the error?
Common Core State Standards: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
ISTE: 3b. Knowledge ConstructorStudents evaluate the accuracy, perspective, credibility and relevance of information, media, data or other resources.
National Center for History in the Schools: NCHS.US History.Era 10Standard 1: Recent developments in foreign policy and domestic politics Standard 2: Economic, social, and cultural developments in contemporary United States
National Council of Teachers of English: NCTE.1Students read a wide range of print and non-print texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.