Start by going out to any popular news site, such as cnn.com, abcnews.com, or news.bbc.co.uk, and take a few moments to look at the way they use language. Take in the way pictures and words are used together to convey meaning, even before reading the articles. Look at the small words that are used in headlines to convey positive or negative connotations.
Take some time to think about what history is. Is a newspaper article a good source of accurate history? Think about what makes it good and what makes it bad. If someone from a nation at war with the United States were to write a history of the U.S., would you expect it to be positive or negative? Think about why. If a person from a time when it is illegal for people to show their belly-button were to write about clothing in the early 2000s, what kind of bias do you expect that work to have?
Reflect on the many ways information can be subtly manipulated, and answer the following questions.
Grading for this Lesson:
|To get a 10:||In the first submission, assignment questions are completed, facts are correct, responses are thoughtful, presentation is clear, grammar and spelling are correct.|
|To get a 9:||In the first submission, a few assignment questions are incomplete OR a few facts are incorrect OR a few responses are careless OR there are a few grammar and spelling errors. After prompting, all corrections are made in revisions.|
|To get an 8:||In the first submission, many assignment questions are incomplete OR many facts are incorrect OR many responses are careless OR there are numerous grammar and spelling errors. After prompting, all corrections are made in revisions.|
|To get a 7:||After prompting, a few assignment questions remain incomplete OR a few facts remain incorrect OR a few responses remain careless OR a few grammar and spelling errors remain.|
|To get a 6:||This grade is reserved for administrative use.|
|To get a 5:||Plagiarism, purposeful or mistaken, which will lower your final grade for the course (so be very careful when posting your work!) OR lack of effort, disrespect, or attitude (we are here to communicate with you if you don't understand something). Lesson requirements have been met.|
|Also be aware that you will have a chance to revise your work. Since revisions result in a lower grade, remember to read the directions carefully and make sure you meet the requirements.|
Answer the following questions fully, using several complete sentences with correct grammar and spelling.
1. If there is a war or conflict going on, and a headline says, "President claims 'Things are going well'," what message do you feel is really being given by the headline? What about the phrasing affects the way you read it?
2. What if instead the headline said, "President affirms 'Things are going well.'" What is different between the two, and how is the message changed?
3. What if the headline read "President says 'Things are going well'" and was placed next to a picture of a horrifying explosion? How does that affect the way the headline will be read?
4. Pretend you are a reporter, and a panther was just killed in Cairo, Egypt. If you wanted to show that killing the panther was a good thing, what would you write in the headline? (Remember to be subtle! You don't want to just say it was a good thing.)
5. What if you wanted to show that killing the panther was a bad thing? What headline would you write instead? (Again, be subtle!)
6. What role do you think culture plays in writing? Is it possible to write an unbiased story about a culture not your own? Explain.
7. Say I wrote in a story that Americans "had strange rituals that most adhered to, involving the morning and night use of a stick with flexible protrusions to purify the oral region"-- would I be correct? Does it make American culture sound advanced or primitive? Explain.
8. Take a common occurance for you and write about it as if it is culturally alien (like the example in 7 about brushing teeth).
9. When you read something, how often do you think critically about the viewpoint of the person writing it? Does it depend on what you're reading?
10. In what ways do you think media influences public opinion? (We're looking for an answer of about a paragraph here, not an essay!)
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