Sandra Stroup, Heidi Morris, Greg Saum, Sally Drendel
Journalism, Educational Technology, English Language Arts, Composition and Rhetoric, Reading Foundation Skills, Reading Informational Text, Political Science
Material Type:
Activity/Lab, Assessment, Homework/Assignment, Lesson Plan, Reading, Student Guide, Teaching/Learning Strategy
High School
  • Cyber Citizenship
  • Iowa K-12 E-Curriculum
  • iowa-k-12-e-curriculum
  • wa-social-studies
  • License:
    Creative Commons Attribution
    Media Formats:
    Downloadable docs, Graphics/Photos

    Education Standards

    Identifying Media Bias in News Sources

    Identifying Media Bias in News Sources


    Identifying Media Bias in News Sources through activites using relevant news sources to answer the following essential question:

    Why is this important and relevant today?

    • Students are engaging with a growing number of news sources and must develop skills to interpret what they see and hear.

    • Media tells stories with viewpoints and biases that shape our worldviews.

    • Students must become critical consumers of media which is essential for being an informed citizen.

    LESSON ONE: Learning to Preview News Sources


    1. Students will learn how to set a PURPOSE before consuming news sources (in this lesson it’s looking for media bias), so that they can determine whether the article is worth reading.

    2. Students will learn to engage PRIOR KNOWLEDGE (what do students already know about the news topic)

    3. Students will learn to SKIM for date (timeliness), source (credibility) and author’s intent (to inform, or persuade, or entertain)

    4. SCAN briefly for loaded words and photo first impressions that set a tone

    Critical consumers PREVIEW media to determine its "worthiness" (is it worth reading?)

    1. Teacher selects a media source to model the preview strategies using the worksheet. (See lesson #1 worksheet and model.)

    2. Teacher provides a second media source and allows students to work in pairs or small groups to support each other’s learning while completing the worksheet.

    3. For additional practice, the teacher provides 3 or 4 media source options, or allows students to choose their own. 

    4. Students would also benefit from hearing the process of previewing from other students through share alouds, new group/pairs, etc.  

    LESSON TWO: Learning to Actively Engage


    1. Students will learn how to read with an active awareness that helps them 

    • discern fact from opinion

    • evaluate authority references

    • draw inferences from tone words that suggest bias

    • Extension: make cross connections through lateral reading to gain rich/complex insight.

    Critical consumers ACTIVELY ENGAGE with media to determine its reliability.

    Highlight: source (yellow)

    • Voice of authority, references, organizations, studies, etc.

    • Who is being quoted

    • Where does the information come from

    Highlight: fact (green)

    • Something that can be proven to be true

    Highlight: opinion words (red)

    • A view or judgment about something, not necessarily based on fact (signal words: best/worst, should/must)

    Highlight: loaded words (purple)

    • Words where shades of meaning exist (ie, bad v. excruciating)

    Identifying Media Bias in News Sources


    • Identify the authority of reference sources

    • Evaluate bias in news media by analyzing tone words

    • Discern facts from opinions

    • Evaluate knowledge gained from media sources and what action to take

    Essential Questions:

    • How do we separate fact from opinion?

    • How does word choice implicitly communicate bias?

    • How do we identify a writer's bias through their word choice?

    • Why is it important to consume news from a variety of sources?

    Every media source has a story to tell; a driving purpose. The media that people consume largely shapes their world views. The US public is becoming more divided partially due to the consumption of increasingly biased news. As a critical consumer of media, it is important to be able to separate fact from opinion. In this unit, high school students will become critical consumers of news, by identifying media bias in order to become better informed citizens.

    LESSON THREE: Learning to Post/Read/React


    1. Students will learn how to post read -- the final processing of information, to determine what to do with the information (remember it, forget it, use it, share it, etc.)

    Critical consumers EVALUATE knowledge gained from media sources and what action to take.

    1. Based on your evaluation of the article (lesson two), do you want to buy into this message? 

    2. Connections: How does this information fit with what I already know? Does it confirm, build on, or conflict with what I think I know? 

    3. Take action: What will I do with this information (remember it, forget it, use it, share it, etc.)?

    4. EXTENSION: teach the skill of lateral reading in order to assess the editorial process and reputation of the site that published the article.

    LESSON FOUR: Learning to Consume Media from a Variety of Sources


    1. Students will learn the importance of consuming news from a variety of sources for a more complete understanding of the world around them.

    Critical consumers COMPARE/CONTRAST information from a variety of news sources. 

    1. Students choose a news event (or teacher assigns students a news event).

    2. Students choose articles from a left leaning source and a right leaning source regarding the same event (or teacher assigns students articles that provide for compare and contrast). Media Bias Charts can be used if students aren't familiar with the sources (see resources).

    3. Follow the protocols discussed in the first three lessons: Preview, Actively Engage, Post Read for each article.

    4. Capture information on the chart (student worksheet). 

    5. Compare the articles (model first, then group discussion, then individual processing)

      • What is the narrative each media source is trying to tell?

      • How are the facts/opinions presented in each source the same or different?

      • Why is it important to consume news from a variety of sources?

      • How can we work to form our own opinions, rather than assuming those of our media sources?

    Extension: Who Owns the Media?

    As students begin comparing news sources, the all important question of "whose message is this and why" will open the door to exploring media ownership. Here are questions that students can research and discuss:

    Who owns the news sources? (Students can choose individual news outlets to expolore ownership, such as ABC, NBC, BBC, etc.)

    How does state vs. private ownership affect what gets published?

    How has media ownership changed in the last 30, 20, 10 years?

    What are the "Big 5 Media Corporations"?

    Which news sources are under which corporations?

    What are the dangers of limited ownership?