1. As students enter the classroom have overhead #1 on which shows two
headlines about the same topic from two sources that represent
event in different
lights. Ask the students if both seem accurate. Discuss how two publications
can present the same incident in such different ways. Share with the students
that when you were looking at current events you touched on the idea that
not all articles are unbiased, balanced in representing both sides, or
completely accurate in their descriptions of the situation about
which they are reporting.
Sometimes this favoritism of one viewpoint is unconscious (due to certain
cultural assumptions) and sometimes it is done purposefully to influence
public opinion. When the goal of a piece of writing is to intentionally
side as right, virtuous, superior, etc., and the opposing side as wrong,
evil, inferior, etc., that article has become propaganda.
2. Introduce the students to how a reader’s
opinion might be skewed in one direction by employing subtle, and often
not so subtle, techniques:
i. Examine the editorial cartoons in the newspaper. Look for use of symbols,
persuasion and stereotyping as they are used to elect political humor or
satire. Then determine:
What symbols were used.
What characters are represented.
What assumptions can be drawn from the cartoon(s).
What is the cartoon's opinion?
Do you agree or disagree with this opinion?
Write out your arguments telling why you agree or disagree.
This exercise explores how editorial cartoons in the newspaper drive home one
viewpoint on a subject. Since cartoons engage the reader with humor most students
find them interesting.
3. Go over the different
techniques used to create a piece of propaganda as outlined
and explained below.
Review the names and definitions of the following types of propaganda:
- Everybody's in favor of it; join the crowd.
Folks - The users of this product or proponents of
of action are simple, down-to-earth people like you
Stacking - Distorting or omitting facts; telling half-truths.
- Stereotyping ideas or people with a bad label.
Generalities - Using "good" labels,
such as democratic, patriotic, amazing, beautiful and
exciting, that are unsupported by facts.
- Seeking support for an idea or product by having
it endorsed by a famous person, such as a
Appeal - Only the richest, most important, or most
discerning people like this idea or product.
- Associating a respected person or idea with whatever
is being promoted, such as picturing
you go through these (or after) ask the students to
come up with numerous real world
each. How do
advertisers or political
figures use some of these techniques?
4. Invent an international problem, using real situations from international
news articles as a springboard to your invented situation. (Use real names,
places, and situations, and identify with articles these came from.)
5. Then, write a news article about the invented problem, keeping in mind that
you are citizens of the United States and will be writing from that viewpoint.
6. After writing the news article about the invented problem from an unbiased
prospective, ask the students to write two short articles about the same problem
from the viewpoints of the opposing sides. Each side should use various propaganda
techniques, and identify which ones they are, to create the impression that
their side is in the right.
Magazines which appeal
to teenagers are full of examples of propaganda. These
publications often present concerns and issues which
are emotionally loaded for teenagers. Ask the students
to bring in an advertisement or even an article which
is promoting a certain side and have them point out which
propaganda techniques are being used. Or, each student
can present their example to the class and then ask the
class to point out the propaganda technique being employed.
assess if the student illustrated each type of propaganda with
real world examples. Second, assess the writing of the three
articles about the international problem. Credit should be
given for how well the student has employed the different propaganda
techniques and how many have been used.
news article allows for assessment of students' word
choices and ability to identify and use propaganda techniques.
How many different techniques do students employ in their
articles. Are they able to write an unbiased piece?