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Media Literacy Activity: Grades 9-12

Individual Exercise

Every month, World Press Review puts together one cover story and a number of features by bringing together articles on one subject from a variety of newspapers, translated from a variety of languages. In this exercise students will compare the articles in one cover story or feature in order to hone their media literacy skills.

This exercise can be done using either a print edition of World Press Review or the online editions of the magazine on (either the current issue or one of the available back issues). Using the print edition of the magazine is preferable, since not all of the articles in a cover story or feature will be accessible online. If only the Web site is accessible, then only cover stories or features for which at least three articles are available online should be used.

1. Select any World Press Review cover story or feature.

2. For each article:

a. Reflect on the article as you read it and then write down your impressions, thoughts, reactions, etc. in a journal.

b. Summarize the article in 20 words exactly. If, while writing your summary, you want to add anything to your journal entry, feel free to do so.

c. Think of and write down three questions inspired by the article. These can include (but aren’t limited to) questions about a person or event that the article mentioned, questions about the subject of the article, questions about the author’s bias, etc.

3. Once you have read and done the above for all the articles in your cover story or feature, chronicle how your reactions evolved as you read more on the subject of the package in any of the following formats: (a) an explanatory paragraph or mini-essay (b) a timeline (c) a table (d) another type of graphic representation. The following questions can help you give order to the feelings, thoughts and questions that you wrote in your journal:

a. Did your impressions of the subject change as you proceeded from one article to the next? How? Why?

b. Did reading a later article make you question or distrust something that you had read earlier? Why? Did you eventually come to any conclusion about which interpretation was more reliable?

c. Did you feel that the different articles built up your knowledge of the subject?

d. Did the different points of view complement or contradict one another?

e. Did later articles answer any of the questions you had written for the earlier articles you read?

f. How did your questions change as you read more articles?

4. Now find one or two articles from the U.S. press on the same topic as the package you read from World Press Review. Journal write, summarize and draft questions for the U.S. article(s) as you did for the others. Then compare and contrast the different articles considering, among other things (a) the assumptions they make (b) the tone they use (c) their implied audience (d) their slant (e) their degree of objectivity. Which articles did you find the most reliable? Why? Which did you find the least reliable? The comparison can either take the form of a mini-essay or of a table.

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