BBC My World Media Literacy
My World Media Literacy, developed in partnership by BBC Learning, BBC World Services, and Microsoft, is a free educational platform for students ages 11-14 designed with the goal of increasing global media literacy and the evaluation of information presented in modern journalism. Featuring ten 45-minute lesson plans, each with activities and a companion video, these 21st century resources increase students’ critical thinking skills needed to be responsible consumers of news while inspiring them to become citizen journalists in order to navigate the news and form their own opinions.
In today’s world, technology provides us with rapid, real-time access to stories happening everywhere, from our own neighborhoods to across the globe. My World Media Literacy resources explore the world of news to help students find out how stories become headlines, understand the role of journalists, and introduce them to the different ways that issues are reported – all with the goal of becoming smarter consumers of information.
It's reported that more than 80% of middle school students believe that “sponsored content” can be a real news story and 59% of 10-18-year-old children have shared a story that they either subsequently found to be inaccurate or were uncertain as to it accuracy (source). With these statistics in mind, it's now more important than ever to provide students with the resources they need to make better decisions, be aware of dangers and opportunities, and learn new ways of being safer, happier, and smarter consumers of information.
What’s the news?
Since the beginning of civilization, people have always found creative ways to share information using the tools available to them. In this introductory lesson, students investigate the characteristics, roles, and purposes of news. They're introduced to the genre by the BBC My World video, “What is news?” which tracks the history of news, from handwritten manuscripts to digital feeds. Students explore the different categories of news—hard, soft, local, national, and world news—along with specific news subjects or types, including politics, crime, human interest, and celebrity news. Students learn what makes an event newsworthy, its universal appeal to human nature. Finally, they explore the question, “What is the purpose of news?” by considering its roles and its benefit as a public service.
How do journalists gather news?
News stories don’t always happen quickly; sometimes a story can take months or even years to form. Journalists have to work hard when researching a story, and ultimately, the thing that fuels many journalists is a sense of curiosity. In this lesson, students explore the processes that generate the news they encounter daily. They learn to ask questions to uncover details in a news item and explore potential news sources. Students discuss the importance of curiosity in shaping news then watch the BBC My World video "How do journalists find the news?" to gain insight into information gathering and analysis.
How do journalists verify news?
A journalist’s first job is to get the facts right. After journalists have researched and gathered information from different sources, the next important step is to verify the content to distinguish fact from rumor or opinion. In this lesson, students will examine the ways journalists are expected to verify information. The BBC My World video "Getting the news right" showcases a real-life example of what journalists did to check that the story they were telling was right, after which, students explore questions such as: What is the role of fact in journalism? How do reporters verify the information they use? and What is “fake news"? Throughout the lesson, students learn how to be their own fact checkers as they encounter news from various sources.
What's the angle?
A specific point of view can have a big impact on the way a story is reported. Journalists have a responsibility to report the facts and details with impartiality to allow consumers to form their own educated opinions. In this lesson, students learn that some news reports may have a point of view and to recognize if it affects consumers’ perceptions of events and people. Students experience the same story reported two different ways in the BBC My World video “Different perspectives” and work together to identify bias along with trying their hand at rewriting biased reporting to make it impartial.
Inside the newsroom
Who decides what you see, read and hear in the news? Journalists work in teams of people all contributing different information and elements to the final news report. From editors to producers to data analysts, it takes a small village of collaborating professionals to bring comprehensive, detailed stories to life on news platforms. In this lesson, students explore the jobs, workflow, and decision-making processes in newsrooms. After guided research, students take on the roles of reporters, editors, producers, and news executives. While they learn to play their roles in developing comprehensive, detailed stories, students come to recognize the essential characteristics of a functioning newsroom.
What's the source?
When journalists are researching a news story, the information they get comes from many different sources. In this lesson, students investigate the differences between primary and secondary sources and compare the characteristics of information obtained from each type. The BBC My World video “Who’s your source?” shows students an in-depth investigation into verifying two conflicting reports from sources about a situation unfolding in China—allowing students to see both sides of the story in order to form their own opinions. Students then learn about the importance of having multiple sources, preparation journalists must undertake to ask effective interview questions, penetrate a subject’s complexities, and vet the accuracy of a source’s account.
Where do you find your news?
Whether you get your news online, on TV, from social media, or in newspapers, it’s important to think about who wrote or published that piece of news and whether you can trust them. In this lesson, students learn to distinguish more impartial news from stories that may lack independence or accountability. The BBC My World video “Where do you find your news?” introduces the topic and provides students with tools around finding news from a trustworthy source. Students then learn to curate news and build their own “news neighborhoods.” They also explore how to navigate news with a content filter in order to obtain news that they find credible, meaningful, challenging, and relevant to their lives.
Should I share it?
When news is shared, it doesn’t take long for a story to reach a large audience. But how do you know when it’s ok to share news? In this lesson, students investigate the questions to ask before sharing news on social media. They read and discuss the article “Should I share it?” and are introduced to the issues by the BBC My World video, “What about social media?” which looks at the process of what makes news goes viral. Students explore the roles of different types of news available through social media and use a decision flowchart to help evaluate whether a news story is shareworthy.
Why do some news stories evolve?
The news doesn’t always happen all at once. Whether reporting on an inbound storm or an unfolding situation, journalists must decide how to share the facts they have in both a timely and responsible way. In this lesson, students investigate how and why news stories evolve over time. The BBC My World video segment “Why does the news keep changing” introduces the concept of a developing news story. Students distinguish changing information from corrected information and learn that consumers of developing stories—and in fact most news stories—are best served by referring to a variety of dependable news sources.
How do journalists earn trust?
Trust is at the core of the relationship between news and consumers. In this lesson, students investigate why trust and transparency are important to journalism and news outlets. After watching the BBC My World video “How do journalists earn trust?” students explore the different techniques journalists can use to be transparent and build trust in their audience. Students then look at examples of mistakes and wrong information that news organizations have reported and read about various ways news outlets can correct errors. They explore transparency and accountability in news by determining what kind of adjustment to make for different kinds of errors. Students discuss the role of trust and transparency in how news outlets deal with mistakes.
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