Lesson Plan Five (Student Resources)

Truth in Media.


In 1934, when San Francisco faced a crippling strike by dockworkers, many papers ran stories about “communists massing in the foothills.” We now know these stories were untrue. But it does raise questions about the media, and its role in our perception of truth.  How well does today’s media present reports on challenging subjects, and are they independent of government or commercial interests?

Media bias refers to the bias of journalists and news producers within the mass media, in the selection of which events and stories are reported and how they are covered.  Unfortunately, it's not always easy to recognize. No self-respecting reporter is going to come right out and say "And this next sentence is biased, so watch out!" Rather, viewers must try to find bias themselves. The most common ways that bias manifests itself in the news are through word choice, omissions, the limiting of debate, framing of the story, and a biased selection and use of sources (adapted from University of Michigan’s website.)