Newsstand Module

Introduction

This module allows students to expand even further their sphere of investigation and apply their cross-cultural skills to the analysis of media in their respective countries. The variety of media presented will allow students to compare, for instance:

  • the front pages of one major newspaper from each country for a day or for a whole week.
  • the types of events these two newspapers report on a daily basis, the priorities they give to specific events or news, as well as what each paper does not report on.
  • the way the papers report on the same event.

This will give students the opportunity to develop insights into different reporting modes and, perhaps, uncover implicit cultural and ideological biases.

Activities

This module lends itself to a great variety of activities. Here are just a few. You can add many more, depending on the level of your class and how much time you have.

Activity 1

Ask students to form pairs. Have them look at the front page of one American daily and one French daily on a particular day, compare the events/issues covered, and make observations about which events are covered.

Follow-up class activity:

Ask students to form groups of 3 or 4 (students who have worked together should not be in the same group). Have them share their observations with the other members of the group: did they all make similar observations or not? Did they all come to the same “conclusion”? Reunite the whole class and see what general “conclusions” the students have come to (with references to the newspapers they looked at). Write these remarks on the board for everyone to see. Elicit more observations or comments. Do the conclusions differ depending what newspapers have been compared?

Activity 2

Have students do the same activity as above, but for one week, not just for one day. Have them keep a log of the event and issues covered every day during that week for both newspapers.

Follow-up class activity

Have students report what they have found to each other in groups or to the class as a whole. Elicit a discussion. Do some patterns emerge?

Activity 3

Ask students to choose one American newspaper or magazine from their exchange partners' country and one from their own country and to select one news item which both sources have covered. The event or issue can be country-specific, as long as the issue is mentioned in both newspapers/magazines. Alternatively, the event or issue can be an international one which is reported in both national presses. Ask students to compare the ways in which the same event was described.

Follow-up class activity

Elicit a discussion: was there a difference between the newspapers or magazines in terms of objectivity versus subjectivity? Did students find any cultural bias? Which?

Activity 4

Have students to look at the daily forums of a newspaper or magazine from each country. What topics do the posters in one country talk about versus the other? Are they focusing on the same issues or not? Why or why not? Have the students make hypotheses.

Follow-up class activity

Elicit a discussion about: the kind of news article or topic discussed; the language used by the posters from each country when expressing their opinions and points of view (were there any differences?); how the posters from each country use the forums (for what purpose?) and their discourse; whether the forums are moderated, curated, or censored, and how that may affect what is presented.

Activity 5

Ask students to look at the daily forums of a newspaper or magazine from each country for a specific given day. Ask students to choose one single topic on which people from both cultures express their ideas. Ask students to observe whether the posters from each country hold similar views or not on the subject and to analyze the language used by the posters from each country. How do they compare?

Follow-up class activity

Elicit a discussion about whether the posters fom each country express similar or differing views on any particular topic. Which topics seem to elicit similar views? Which topics seem to elicit the most differing views?

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