Identifying Media Bias in News Sources for Middle School

Identifying Media Bias in News Sources for Middle School

UNIT OPENER:

  • Have students play the Factitious Game by Farley, M. et.al.

    • Help students understand that fake news and bias does exist in the media and isn’t just a buzzword. While the game shows extremes between real and fake news, it helps to show students that it does exist. Even well known sources like CNN, FOX, and MSNBC can have bias or misleading information. Learning to look for the telltale signs of bias is an invaluable skill in this media age. 

  • As a class watch the Media Literacy video by BrainPop

    • Optional Activity: have students take notes during the video on different things to look for when reading to determine bias in media. 

    • Have a class discussion on current media literacy habits.

TEACHER TIPS:

  • This unit can be tailored to fit any content area, topic, or grade level. For this unit you will need to select at least three news articles on the same topic from three different news sources to give to your students. It would be best to find one news source from the left, right, and center points of view. Included is a link to the University of Michigan Library resource “News Sources on the Political Spectrum” which provides guidance and additional resources for finding a spectrum of sources and opinions. Also included, are two charts showing where many common news sources fall on the spectrum of media bias (Media Bias Chart 7.0, AllSides Media Bias Chart

    • Extension Option: Have your students select their own sources.

  • For this unit, using the first article, work through steps one, two, and three together as a class (I do/We do). For the second article students will complete those same three steps in groups (We do/You do). For the third article, students will complete the same three steps independently (You do).

STEP 1

STEP 1

How to Preview Media Sources

 

  • Student Objectives:

    • Students will learn how to set a PURPOSE before consuming news sources , so that they know why they are consuming. (In this lesson, it’s looking for media bias.)

    • Students will learn to engage PRIOR KNOWLEDGE. (What do students already know about the news topic?)

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

    • Students should SCAN briefly for loaded words and photo first impressions that set a tone.

 

  • Process:

    • Select a source that shows bias. (It is suggested to start with either the left or right so the bias is more visible and easier to discern). We will call this Article 1.

    • Walk students through how to preview a source (Article 1) using the "How to Preview Media Worksheet."

 

STEP 2

STEP 2

How to Actively Engage With Media Sources 

 

  • Student Objectives:

    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

 

  • Process:

    • Using the same source, Article 1, walk students through the highlighting process outlined on Part 1 of the "How to Actively Engage With Media Worksheet."

    • Walk students through how to complete Part 2 of the "How to Actively Engage with Media Worksheet" still using Article 1. 

REPEAT

Repeat Steps 1-3

 

  • Repeat Steps one, two, and three using Article 2, with students working together in groups. It may be helpful to guide the groups through each step initially to get them going.

  • Then, repeat Steps one, two, and three, using Article 3 where students are working independently.

  • By the end, your students should have completed all three steps for the three different articles.

 

STEP 4

STEP 4

How to Consume Media from a Variety of Sources

 

  • Student Objectives:

    • Students will learn how to compare and contrast a variety of media sources on a singular topic. 

 

  • Process:

    • SUGGESTED PROCESS: Following the same basic design of the Source Comparison Matrix found in the "How to Consume Media from a Variety of Sources Worksheet," have students physically cut out their responses for each article from Steps one through three and create their own source comparison matrix on poster paper.

    • ALTERNATIVE PROCESS: Students can complete their work digitally on the Source Comparison Matrix found in the "How to Consume Media from a Variety of Sources Worksheet." (Note--they will need to copy over the information from their previous worksheets on Article 1 into the first column of the matrix, and likewise with Articles 2 and 3, for an easy side by side comparison). 

    • Once the comparison matrix is complete students will move on to the "Source Comparison Analysis Worksheet." (If completing digitally, it is located in the same document as the comparison matrix.)

STEP 5

STEP 5

How to Compare and Reflect on Media Sources

 

  • Student Objectives:

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

 

  • Process:

    • Walk students through the "Final Source Comparison and Reflection Worksheet/"

    • This can be completed individually or as a class discussion to gauge understanding.