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When Journalism Becomes The News

January 29, 2010 Leave a comment

Diana Hadley

It is one of those weeks when journalism doesn’t just report the news. Several journalism-related issues are the news, and they can lead to great springboards for story ideas and class discussion.

Google’s confrontation with China over Internet censorship, the recent Supreme Court decision that allows corporations a greater opportunity to be involved with political campaigns, and the Tim Tebow Super Bowl advertisement all provide a variety of angles that students may want to discuss and cover for their newspapers.

Enough has been written about all three issues to provide students with resources from which to expand coverage and debate the effect of each on their generation and their school or community.

All three issues have money angles that could be linked to the economic coverage students have been doing. Would Google be less likely to take the high road in China if they had a more lucrative operation there? Would executives be less likely to accept a cause ad in a better economy? Will corporations be more likely to try to buy elections?

In addition to usual sources, Steven Cobert’s comparison of Morgan Stanley and Stanley Morgan provides an excellent way to teach satirical coverage of a political issue. At one time I might have hesitated to mention Stewart or Cobert as teaching tools, but mainstream journalists admit that his “fake news” often uncovers truth; and Stewart now admits that perhaps his show is the broadcast version of the editorial cartoon, a topic in itself.

Super Bowl advertisements provide good homework assignments every year because they use a variety of persuasive techniques at the same time they are as entertaining as the game (even when the Indianapolis Colts aren’t one of the teams).  Whether that venue is an appropriate place for cause advertisements is already a hot topic among multiple groups. What do your students think?

We continue to be lucky that our lesson plans and publications’ goals provide such great opportunities for our students to analyze important issues. Please share examples of these or any other recent topics that your students have decided to cover.

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