ENG 3U 2013: Bias in the Media

This week, we have examined changes in television (especially sitcoms) over the decades, and the impact of camera angles on our understanding of a narrative. Today, you will consider how the bias of a reporter (or of a network) can shape our perception of the news.

Let’s begin by watching two video clips about the Occupy Movement. Both clips are about the same event: during a protest in New York, several police officers used pepper-spray and force to subdue some of the protesters. Note that the clips are about the same event, and yet the coverage of the event is fundamentally different.

Hopefully, these clips will give you some inspiration for today’s task. Once you have watched the clips, I want you to find a partner and create a fictitious event worthy of news coverage.  This event can include a protest, a scandal, or anything else you consider newsworthy (be respectful, please).

  • You and your partner need to agree on the basic  elements of the event (who, what, when, where, why)
  • Once you have decided on the event’s facts, you and your partner need to imagine that you are rival reporters representing two radically different perspectives about the event. For example, if the eve t is a scandal involving a politician, one reporter could be a supporter of the politician while her rival could be very much against the politician.
  • You and your partner need to write separate news articles about the event (2 articles, 1 news event).  Remember to stay true to your bias established in the previous step.

Some things to consider:

  • If the event involves a protest, are the protesters citizens exercising their democratic rights or are they law-breakers challenging authority?
  • If the event is a questionable hit in a hockey game, was the hit an example of hard-nosed play by the home team or a dirty hit that changed the momentum of the game?
  • If the event is accusations aimed at a political leader, are stories about him important questions that he refuses to answer, or unsubstantiated rumors?

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