Where Do We Get Our News and Why Does It Matter?
News Literacy and Media Bias
This resource is part of our Election 2020 collection, designed to help you teach about voting rights, media literacy, and civic participation, in remote and in-person settings.
Last updated January 08, 2020
We live in a time when it can be difficult to identify reliable news sources. Though the term “fake news” is often used as a political weapon, the problem of stories that are reliant on sloppy journalism, intentionally misleading, or fabricated, is real. Even reliable news sources can have political perspectives that affect their coverage of the news. Across the world, people increasingly turn to social media to learn about key current events, which can make it even more difficult to determine the reliability or perspective of a news story. Whatever the news story, young people need media literacy tools to assess the articles and videos that come through their feeds and to consider the ethics of what they read and share.
This Teaching Idea is designed to help students take stock of their media choices, explore media bias, and think about what healthy news habits they want to adopt.
Read When It Comes to News, Americans Would Rather Watch Than Read or Listen from Newsela (free account required). Use the Think, Pair, Share strategy to give students the opportunity to respond to and discuss the following:
As a class, brainstorm a list of the controversial events that have been in the news in the last few weeks. Ask your students to pick one of the events from your brainstorm and answer the following questions:
Visit the websites of three of the news sources listed in the media bias chart that you showed your students: one from the left, one from the right, and one from the center (for example, from MSNBC, Fox News, and Reuters). As a class, discuss:
(Note to teacher: If you want to explore one issue more deeply, select an article from each of the three sources ahead of time that covers the same event. Print copies of the articles and ask students to read them in small groups.)
As a full class, discuss:
Students may see intentionally misleading and fabricated news on controversial events in their social media feeds, and it is important for them to be able to distinguish between fake stories and reliable sources. Share the News Literacy Project’s Ten Questions for Fake News Detection and have students look over the questions it asks to help them identify the quality of a news piece. Ask your students:
Invite students to write down their goals for how they will follow the news, which they can share with their classmates, friends, and families, as an exit card. They can draw on the Ten Questions for ideas. Prompt them to respond to the following questions:
Use our Explainer on Political Polarization in the United States to teach your students about political divides in the United States and growing animosity between members of the two political parties.