Do you think journalists should be allowed to write about anything they want to? Why or why not?
Why do you think a government would want to ban journalists from documenting its decision-making process?
What does the term "free press" mean? Do you think it's important to have a free press? Why or why not?
According to the article, in 2016 leaders of Poland's ruling party tried to ban journalists from covering government meetings. They also tried to control how journalists characterized the country's history. Do you think a government should be able to control the news like this? And why would a government want to rewrite people's ideas about the past?
- Inform students that several different types of news articles appear in newspapers and magazines: a) Straight news articles report on breaking news or current events. b) Background pieces analyze what's behind breaking news to give readers more perspective on current events. c) Investigative reports go even deeper, usually digging up secrets someone is trying to hide. d) Features focus on people, introducing the public to ordinary people who do extraordinary things. e) And opinion pieces, or editorials, are a means for journalists to express their personal opinions.
- Discuss the merits of each type of news article. Then challenge students to identify difficulties journalists might face as they worked on each. For example, straight news articles are usually written on a tight deadline. It takes a lot of research-and sometimes luck-to dig up secrets for an investigative report. Even features can be challenging if the subject is reluctant to reveal details about his or her life.
- Have students brainstorm ideas for articles about issues or events that are important to your school or community. Assign topics and have students select the type of news article they would like to pursue. Then give students time to conduct interviews and write their articles.
CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:
In this lesson from the National Museum of American History, students follow a guided Internet hunt as they play the role of a newspaper reporter trying to research, write and publish an article about the history of the Star Spangled Banner. The lesson’s intent is to teach how to better synthesize ideas and facts in written and artistic products.
This online exhibition from the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County explores the role of visual media, such as newspapers, photographs and film in shaping the fight for racial equality and justice in the United States. Associated educational resources hone skills of comparing and contrasting, image and object analysis and making personal connections.
This section of the National Museum of American History’s online exhibit “The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden” addresses the limits of presidential power. It explores the importance of the system of checks and balances, Congress, the Supreme Court, impeachment, public opinion and the press in restricting the powers of the president.
With this teacher-created lesson from the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, students learn about the Declaration of Independence by creating their own document—something they would write if they were to declare independence from the United States today.
This Smithsonian History Explorer inquiry leads students through an investigation of students’ rights and the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. By investigating the compelling question, students consider the ways in which their rights provide a unique perspective on learning about the First Amendment and the extent to which schools are “special areas,” in which various courts have made rulings that may be seen as limiting students’ First Amendment rights.
Journalism is all about access. To get the scoop, reporters must first get in. But some access comes with a price—and when totalitarian states hold the keys, ethical lines can be crossed. Read this Smithsonian magazine article to learn why researchers think an agreement like this existed during World War II between one of the world’s most respected news organizations and the Hitler regime.