Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Considering the News (created by Beth Day, Furman University)

Considering the News

The Nightly News (graphic novel) by Jonathon Hickman

Supplemented by:

Safe Area Gorazde (journalistic comic book) by Joe Sacco

Somebody Told Me: The Newspaper Stories of Rick Bragg (collected articles) by Rick Bragg

[News articles from major networks]

Essential Questions: What priorities do journalists consider when choosing what stories to report and in reporting them? What role should/does journalism play today?


· Bias in journalism

· Developing a critical appreciation for the news

· The impact journalism has on society


· The class as a whole reads The Nightly News, a graphic novel by Jonathon Hickman. During the class days while the students are reading this work at home and/or in class,

· The teacher asks students to bring in articles from the news the night before class and helps the students identify bias or “spin” in the articles.

· It may be effective to have students bring in various networks' articles on the same topic or incident to contrast.

· The teacher discusses the differences and similarities between journalism articles and persuasive essays (how language that is inappropriate for journalism can be ideal for persuasive essays) setting the stage for a later essay involving what they have learned about journalism.

· The teacher assigns a series of in-class writing assignments, either about a set topic, or a topic of students' choice, for the students to practice writing interesting and brief news articles. Because of how short the articles are, in-class peer conferences and student-teacher conferences regarding the articles allows for students to develop their journalistic writing quickly while focusing on introductions with interesting ledes, eliminating bias, and writing with only the most expressive, necessary words.

· The teacher provides excerpts from Safe Area Gorazde, a journalistic graphic novel written about war in Bosnia, as well as excerpts from Somebody Told Me, a collection of renowned journalist Rick Bragg's articles, as examples of strong journalism and for contrast and comparison with the articles the students bring in.

Possible Student Products:

· A series of short articles developing specific writing goals and exploring possible topics for journalism.

· Many of the “spin” techniques identified as inappropriate for journalism are appropriate for a strong persuasive essay: this unit may lend itself well to a transition into writing persuasive essays.

· This persuasive essay could be on what the student has come to believe the role of journalism should be to a community, whether or not journalism is important, and what role journalism plays in their own community or country.

· Interested students could write in to a local newspaper (for example, a letter to the editor) about a topic of interest to them.

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