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Hassan talks about how muslims are represented in the press. “You can’t see the word ‘muslim’ without the word ‘terrorist’ next to it.”

Use the newspaper headlines that appeared after the attack on the Twin Towers in New York below to investigate how the media might contribute to the construction of attitudes and opinions. You can download them here.

Divide the class into five small groups. Each group should be given a set of headines from a different newspaper.

  • Ask the pupils to read them amongst their group. Draw or project a table onto the white board (you can download this one – we’ve done it in Word so you can alter it  – or design your own). Hand out post it notes to each group, ask them to identify the facts from their headlines and write them onto the notes and stick them to the white board in the appropriate box. Repeat the exercise identifying opinions. Ask each small group what the combined effect of fact and opinion in their headline has; what do we think when we read this? What do we feel? Add these on notes to the chart.
  • Working down the columns, ask the whole group if there are any things that the headlines have in common? In what ways do they differ? Perhaps count how many times some words are used
  • Ask the whole group how do these headlines help us paint a picture of the events? Are there any things missing, things we want to know more about?
  • Does anyone remember the events from when they happened?
  • Ask the group to speculate on the intention of the authors? What do they want us to think? How do they want us to feel?
  • What understanding of the events would you have if you read only one of the news papers?
  • Do you think we have an accurate understanding of the events on 9/11 from the papers?
  • Ask the small groups to write a short article to go with the headline. They can attempt to take an objective view or be as subjective as they want?
  • Make a still picture in their small group that would accompany the headline.

A whole group version of this exercise might be to project the headlines on to a smart board and ask pupils to identify facts and opinions, emotive words, adjectives etc. and mark them with different coloured pens.


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