Media Impacts on News
This lesson was created as the culminating project in the Association for Media Literacy’s Spring 2022 Additional Qualifications Course.
The AML is grateful to Emma Myers for her creativity and permission to share this lesson. Please credit Emma Myers when you share the lesson.
This lesson was designed to compliment Ontario’s NBE3C- Understanding Contemporary First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Voices course.
In small groups, students will be given a news story that they will need to communicate using more than one medium.
This might be communicated through an article, blog, Instagram carousel, TikTok, Twitter, etc.
The purpose of this task is to explore the strengths and weaknesses in selected media, illustrate the biases of various media, and consider the impact of media on audience understanding.
Overall, students should demonstrate an understanding that
a) media impact the audiences’ understanding of a news story and
b) that each medium favours certain types of information & appeals to different audiences.
For example: a TikTok post needs to be brief and visually engaging, communicating through Twitter needs to be brief or split into a “thread,” a news article will often rely on photographs and persuasive language when delivering a message etc.
One Example: Wet’suwet’en Protests
(click to see the examples)
Part 1: Codes and Conventions
Part 1 serves as a “minds on” for the mini-unit and would likely take 2 class periods.
The full class will brainstorm some of the codes and conventions of various media such as news segments, news articles, Instagram, Snapchat stories, TikTok etc. This can be done using Jamboard if students have access to technology, by adding sticky notes to chart paper, or students can brainstorm in small groups and share their ideas with the class while the teacher adds to a shared list.
Guiding questions to brainstorm the codes and conventions…
- Who is the creator? (social media users, journalist, etc.)
- How does a creator make money using this medium?
- How is the information shared in this medium?
- Does the medium have any limits? (character amounts, time limits, etc.)
- What type of person is the typical audience of this medium?
Show the class 3-4 examples of one news story being shared on different media (see Wet’suwet’en Protests example above).
- Renaming of Ryerson University
- Children’s Remains found at Kamloops Residential School
- Justin Trudeau on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
- Pope’s apology for Residential Schools
After viewing the examples, students will be given a current event/topic and in groups of 3-4 will do a virtual scavenger hunt to find different sources about this story. Students will share their found examples with the rest of the class.
After students have shared, the class will revisit the list of codes and conventions for each medium and revise if anything needs to be added or removed.
Part 2: Tell it The Same, But Different
In groups of 4, students will be given their news story (likely in the form of a video news broadcast)
The groups will select one written-based medium and one oral/visual-based medium to use to communicate their given story.
Students should keep their audience in mind as well as the codes and conventions in each medium (ex. A Snapchat story audience is typically only people that you know personally, whereas a TikTok might be seen by a wider audience).
Students will create a short proposal for submission to ensure they have a clear plan for their medium and so that the teacher can arrange for all needed materials/technology.
- Revise the existing news story to shift the bias/slant
- In media creation, students must focus on communicating their news story in a way that is easily understandable to other youth
With strong groups of students, groups of 2 will communicate the story through 2 different media (rather than splitting within a group)
Part 3: Reflecting
Before submission, students will have the opportunity to share their work with another group for feedback. They will then have time to make revisions based on this feedback before their final submission.
As part of their final submission, students will complete a short written (paragraph/compare & contrast table) or oral reflection.
They will also view and analyze what was created by their other group members using a different medium and describe what they noticed when viewing the same story in a different way and describe how the meaning of the story changed.
Guiding questions for reflection:
- How (and why) might audiences perceive different meanings depending on the medium/platform?
- What were some of the challenges you experienced while creating your media work? How did you solve them?
- If you had unlimited time and budget, how might you do your project differently next time?
- What did you notice about the relationship between the information being shared and what medium was being used?
- How might different media shape the way various groups are perceived?
- Which media might be more reliable in communicating the “truth” of a story?
- Are certain media more effective depending on the kind of story? Why?
- Media product is thoughtfully-created and carefully-crafted
- Media product communicates effectively for the chosen medium
- Media product demonstrates knowledge of the codes & conventions of the chosen medium
- Reflection demonstrates understanding of the impact of medium on audience understanding
The materials needed will vary for each group. Overall, the following basic materials are needed:
- Cameras (smartphones or tablets will work)
- Access to free graphic design software such as Canva.com
- Produce book reviews in 2 media
- Other current news topics (can be pop culture, celebrity, sports, politics, etc.)
- Retell an important event from a book/play in 2 media
- Take an existing narrative and produce for different media
- Communicate the same historical event in 2 media
- Communicate a new scientific discovery/development in 2 media
Theory/ Frameworks and Curriculum
The Key Concepts
- The focus of this task is Concept #7: Form and Content are Closely Related in Each Medium
- This project helps to reinforce the fact that each medium has its own “language” and the medium has a large impact on audience understanding.
- Concept #8: Each Medium has a Unique Aesthetic Form
- Part 1 of this project which examines the codes and conventions of each medium helps to build a full class understanding of this Key Concept. Even if students do not end up producing within a given medium, they would still have learned more about the specific codes and conventions of these media forms.
- Concept #3: Audiences Negotiate Meaning
- This is particularly important in relation to social media. This project asks that students keep their audience in mind during their production as well as reflect on the impact on the audience.
Overall Expectations: NBE3C – Understanding Contemporary First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Voices
Strand A: First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Perspectives and Text forms in Canada
A2. Deconstructing: demonstrate an understanding of how representations of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit individuals, communities, and cultures in text forms created in Canada are influenced by perspectives related to or shaped by historical period, cultural background, and social and political conditions and events, including perspectives related to gender and the role of women;
Strand D: Writing
D1. Developing and Organizing Content: generate, gather, and organize ideas and information to write for an intended purpose and audience on subject matter related to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit cultures;
D2. Using Knowledge of Form and Style: draft and revise their writing, using a variety of literary, informational, and graphic forms and stylistic elements appropriate for the purpose and audience;
D3. Applying Knowledge of Conventions: use editing, proofreading, and publishing skills and strategies, and knowledge of language conventions, to correct errors, refine expression, and present their work effectively;
D4. Reflecting on Skills and Strategies: reflect on and identify their strengths as writers, areas for improvement, and the strategies they found most helpful at different stages of writing texts on subject matter related to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit cultures.
Strand E: Media Studies
E1. Understanding Media Texts: demonstrate an understanding of a variety of media texts from First Nations, Métis, and Inuit cultures, and, as appropriate, relevant media texts from non-Indigenous sources;
E2. Understanding Media Forms, Conventions, and Techniques: identify some media forms and explain how the conventions and techniques associated with them are used to create meaning in the context of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit cultures;
E3. Creating Media Texts: create a variety of media texts on subject matter related to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit cultures, for different purposes and audiences, using appropriate forms, conventions, and techniques;
E4. Reflecting on Skills and Strategies: reflect on and identify their strengths as interpreters and creators of media texts, areas for improvement, and the strategies they found most helpful in understanding and creating media texts on subject matter related to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit cultures
Strand A: First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Perspectives and Text forms in Canada
A2.1 determine how the messages relating to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit cultures conveyed in various contemporary and historical Indigenous text forms, and, as appropriate, in non-Indigenous texts, might change if they were presented from different perspectives and make inferences about how the viewpoint of the creator/author is shaped by factors related to historical period, gender, culture, sexual orientation, ability, and/or politics
A2.2 identify contradictions in how First Nations, Métis, and Inuit cultures have been depicted in various contemporary and historical Indigenous text forms, and non-Indigenous texts and analyse possible reasons for the divergence of views
Strand D: Writing
D1.1 identify the topic, purpose, and audience for a variety of writing tasks on subject matter related to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit cultures
D1.2 generate, expand, explore, and focus ideas for potential writing tasks, using a variety of strategies and print, electronic, and other resources, as appropriate
D1.4 identify, sort, and order main ideas and supporting details for writing tasks, using a variety of strategies and organizational patterns suited to the content and the purpose for writing
D1.5 determine whether the ideas and information gathered are relevant to the topic, accurate, complete, and appropriately meet the requirements of the writing task
D2.1 write for different purposes and audiences using a variety of literary, informational, and graphic text forms
D2.2 establish a distinctive voice in their writing, modifying language and tone skilfully to suit the form, audience, and purpose for writing
Strand E: Media Studies
E1.1 explain how media texts from First Nations, Métis, and Inuit cultures, and, as appropriate, relevant media texts from non-Indigenous sources including increasingly complex texts, are created to suit particular purposes and audiences
E1.4 explain why the same media text might prompt different responses from different audiences
E1.5 identify the perspectives and/or biases evident in media texts from First Nations, Métis, and Inuit cultures, and, as appropriate, in relevant media texts from non-Indigenous sources, including increasingly complex texts, and comment on any questions they may raise about beliefs, values, identity, and power
E2.1 identify general and specific characteristics of a variety of media forms and explain how they shape content and create meaning
E2.2 identify conventions and/or techniques used in a variety of media forms and explain how they convey meaning and influence their audience
E3.3 identify a variety of conventions and/or techniques appropriate to a media form they plan to use, and explain how these will help communicate specific aspects of their intended meaning
E3.2 select a media form to suit the topic, purpose, and audience for a media text they plan to create on subject matter related to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit cultures, and explain why it is a highly appropriate choice
Through & About
This project teaches through and about media by not only focusing on the content of a news story but by highlighting the way that the form in which we receive our news has a profound impact on audience understanding. Students learn through media production and through viewing the media productions of their peers as well as about media forms and codes and conventions.