CoverIntroduction and Table of Media Literacy Activities for Key Civics ConceptsDefining Critical Media Literacy1. Foundations of the United States Political SystemDemocracy in Social Media Policies and Community StandardsThe Internet as a Public Utility21st Century Women STEM InnovatorsMedia Coverage of the RoyalsRepresentations of Native Americans in Film, Local History Publications, and School Mascots2. The Development of United States GovernmentDeclarations of Independence on Social MediaMarketing and Regulating Self-Driving CarsRepresentations of and Racism Toward Black Americans in the MediaPolitical Debates Through Songs from Hamilton: An American MusicalBill of Rights on Twitter3. Institutions of United States GovernmentHollywood Movies About the Branches of GovernmentWriting an Impeachment Press ReleaseMembers of Congress' Use of Social MediaPolitical Impacts of Public Opinion PollsWebsite Design for New Political Parties4. The Rights and Responsibilities of CitizensImmigration in the NewsPortrayals of Immigrants in Television and FilmCOVID-19 Information EvaluationWomen Political Leaders in the MediaOnline Messaging by Advocacy Organizations and Special Interest GroupsDigital Games for Civic EngagementSocial Media and the ElectionsMedia Spin in the Coverage of Political DebatesCelebrities' Influence on PoliticsPolitical Activism Through Social MediaMedia Recruitment of Public Sector WorkersImages of Teachers and TeachingRepresenting Trans IdentitiesMedia Framing of the Events of January 6, 2021Music as Protest ArtPACs, Super PACs, and Unions in the Media5. The Constitution, Amendments and Supreme Court DecisionsProhibition in the MediaThe Equal Rights Amendment on Twitter and Other Social MediaCivil War News Stories and Recruitment AdvertisementsRepresentations of Gender and Race on CurrencyThe Equality Act on TwitterReading Supreme Court Dissents AloudTelevision Cameras in Courtrooms6. The Structure of State and Local GovernmentNative American Mascots and LogosA Constitution for the InternetMilitary Recruitment and the MediaYour Privacy on Social MediaPandemic Policy Information in the MediaGendered Language in Media Coverage of Women in PoliticsEnvironmental Campaigns Using Social MediaTrusted Messengers, the Media, and the PandemicOnline Campaigning for Political OfficeAdvertising the Lottery Online and In PrintLocal Governments, Social Media and Digital Democracy7. Freedom of the Press and News/Media LiteracyPress Freedom in the United States and the WorldObjectivity and the News from All SidesInvestigative Journalism and Social ChangeNews Photographs & Newspaper DesignHow Reporters' Report EventsRecommendation Algorithms on Social Media PlatformsFake News Investigation and EvaluationCritical Visual Analysis of Online and Print MediaMemes and TikToks as Political Cartoons

Objectivity and the News from All Sides

Most of us are taught that objectivity in journalism means reporting "unvarnished facts in a very neutral manner" (Williams & Stroud, 2020, para. 1). The reality is and always has been quite different. Historically, newspapers had partisan political perspectives and only when the demands of not alienating readers who bought the paper did many journalists claim they were objectively reporting events.

Today, with news available 24/7 every day of the year, print newspapers, television news shows, online news sites, and social media platforms do not all present the news in the same way or even as objectively agreed upon and accurate facts.

The news we read and view, concluded the authors of the report Truth Decay, is a combination of facts and opinions and neutrality and bias packaged to appeal to different audiences (young, old, affluent, working class) and, in some cases, partisan political perspectives (Democrats, Republicans, progressives, conservatives). The same event is likely to be covered differently by Fox News, MSNBC, The New York Times, and the Washington Post.

At the same time, there are those who contend that objectivity is a false concept and reporters should openly state their own points of view for readers and viewers to embrace or reject. For example, rather than give equal space in a news story to climate deniers or Big Lie proponents, these journalists should expose misinformation and untruths wherever they find them. For these reporters, it is necessary to replace objectivity (the term was removed from journalism's Code of Ethics in 1996) with "skepticism" and make online and print journalism, in the words of Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel, "a discipline of verification" (quoted in Shapiro, 2021, para. 21).

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In the following activities you will practice evaluating the news from different sides; that is, from different points of view and contrasting political perspectives.

Activity 1Evaluate the News From All Sides

Activity 2: Write the News From All Sides

Additional Resources

Connecting to the Standards

  • Massachusetts Civics & Government Standards
    • Give examples of how a free press can provide competing information and views about government and politics. (Massachusetts Curriculum Framework for History and Social Studies) [8.T7.2]
  • ISTE Standards
    • Knowledge Constructor
      • 3b: Students evaluate the accuracy, perspective, credibility and relevance of information, media, data, or other resources.
    • Creative Communicator
      • 6a: Students choose the appropriate platforms and tools for meeting the desired objectives of their creation or communication. 
      • 6b: Students create original works or responsibly repurpose or remix digital resources into new creations.
      • 6d: Students publish or present content that customizes the message and medium for the intended audiences.
  • DLCS Standards
    • Interpersonal and Societal Impact (CAS.c)
    • Digital Tools (DTC.a)
    • Collaboration and Communication (DTC.b)
    • Research (DTC.c)
  • English Language Arts > History/Social Studies Common Core Standards
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.5
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.6
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.7
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.8
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.5
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.6
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.8
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.9
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.5
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.6
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.8