How to craft media messages
How to be critically aware and use the right methods for creating and fact checking the news.
Below you will find a set pedagogical resources that will engage children and youth in classrooms or youth centers. These activities and worksheets will develop media awareness and critical thinking, as well as skills for analyzing and creating media.
This activity lets learners discover how much media they actually consume, and understand more about the role media plays in their life.
Preparations: Download the worksheet Media Diary. Copy or print.
1. Hand out copies of the Media Diary worksheet.
2. Tell the learners that they must track every bit of media use over the next 24 hours. Lead a brief discussion on what should be included in “media use” and put suggestions up on the board. It should include everything from listening to music, to playing games or passing a commercial billboard on the street.
3. When the media diaries are completed, each learner creates a diagram of her/his own media consumption. How many minutes and/or hours did they spend on different types of media content?
4. Finally, create a diagram of the average media consumption for the whole group.
5. Discuss the results
Ideas for questions to discuss
• Were they surprised by the amount of time you spent on media consumption?
• What type of media use is most popular and why?
• Which social media platforms are most popular?
• Where do most of them go to find news?
• Is there anything in their media consumption that they would like to change? If yes, how could they go about making those changes?
Download worksheet Media Diary
Preparation: Download the student worksheet Be the Censor and print/copy. (If you like, find examples of disinformation and propaganda from Tunisia or another country to be used in step 4.)
Censorship is the suppression of words, images, or ideas that are considered “offensive” or a threat and happens whenever and wherever some people manage in imposing their own political or moral values on others. In many countries around the world, censorship of the media is carried out by the government. Many governments also censor the citizens of the country, for example forbidding them to express certain views and ideas.
Students can work individually, in pairs or in small groups.
1. Ask the learners to imagine that they are censors in a country were there is no freedom of the press. Their job is to catch and remove everything that is bad news for the people in power.
2. Hand out the worksheet Be the Censor. Instruct the learners to pick a piece of media, find four items that they would censor and describe them in the first column, and explain why they would censor them in the second column. They should leave the third column blank for now.
3. Gather the class again after they have filled out the two first columns in the worksheet. Invite reflections and comments.
4. Tell the learners that even when you live in a country where politicians and other powerful people are forbidden from censoring the media, some people may still try. They might produce fake news and propaganda that tell an opposite story. Or they can try to discredit the journalist by spreading rumors about her or him. They may even try to bribe the media to withdraw a news item. Give real life examples, or ask the learners if they have any examples to give from Tunisia or abroad.
5. Ask the learners to imagine that they work for powerful people who would be hurt by the news items. They should go back and fill out all or some of the gaps in the third column, with ideas on how they could use disinformation, fake news/rumors or propaganda to counter the different news items.
6. Ask the learners to present their disinformation and propaganda ideas to the class.
Download the worksheet Be the Censor (PDF)
This activity is about learning to analyze news media, and discover the imbalance in media representation of different groups. It also explores the difference between the types of media that young people versus their elders consume.
Preparations: Download the worksheet Who makes the news. Make copies.
- Understand the basics of analyzing news media
- Discover the imbalance in media representation of different groups
- Explores the difference between the types of media that young people versus their elders consume.
- Share the worksheet and/or the online form with the students.
- Ask them to bring it home and fill it out while watching an evening news show on TV, ideally one that their parents usually watch.
- Back in class, when all learners have filled out their forms, divide them in to smaller groups. Let them share and discuss their findings with each other.
- Gather the class. Let each group briefly share what they have discussed. If you like, use the sample questions below.
Questions to discuss with the students
- Are children and young people mostly portrayed in a truthful and fair manner by the media?
- What role do young people mostly play in news stories? For exemple, are they “victims”, “experts” or “bad guys”?
- Are children and youth often interviewed on the news?
- 27 percent of the global population is below 15 years of age. In many countries, the number is around 50 percent. What do you think the ratio in your country? Do you think that that ratio is reflected in the news media?
- How much do the students think that their parents’ world view is affected by the news that they see. And how does this compare with how much the students are influenced by news media?
Download the worksheet Who makes the news
Preparation: Download worksheet Plan your story, and copy.
1. Divide the class into groups of 3-4. Explain that they are to create a news story that catches attention, while being objective and ethical.
2. Give the groups a few minutes to choose a topic for their story.
3. Hand out the worksheet Plan your story and give the students 15 minutes to fill out the form.
4. Have the students give short presentations of the ideas and invite comments and ideas from their friends.
5. Let the groups get to work on their stories.
6. Let the student present their stories to each other and, if they want to, publish it online.
Download worksheet Plan your story
Preparations: Pick two stories about the same event from two different news sites or newspapers. If you do not have access to the Internet, print and copy the stories in advance to hand out. You can also use stories from print media.
Download the worksheet Comparing perspectives, print or copy.
1. Hand out the worksheet Comparing perspectives, and the stories you have prepared.
2. Let the learners compare the two stories, according to the instructions on the worksheet, and fill out the worksheet.
3. Let everyone present their findings.
Download the worksheet Comparing perspectives
This activity helps learners approach media and information with a critical eye, check sources and decide whether the information is trustworthy. This will also help them to stay safe on social media, and when they do research for school!
- Improve critical thinking skills.
- Improve fact-checking skills.
- Analyze an item’s trustworthiness
- Become safer online.
Pick a few stories from a news site and Facebook posts that have gone viral. If you do not have internet access in the classroom, print stories, or/and Facebook posts in advance, to hand out to the students. You can also use stories from a printed newspaper. Download the worksheet Media credibility check.
- Hand out the worksheet Media credibility check, and also the stories you have prepared. Learners can work in pairs or small groups.
- Tell the learners to study the stories, and fill out the worksheet.
- Gather the class. Let everyone present their findings.
- Reflect together.