Saturday 25 June 2011

Making the News


How good a news reporter would you be? This is a role-play activity

Issues addressed:
• How can the same events be interpreted differently by different people.
• The promotion of a broader vision of the world.

Aims of the activity:
• To experience reporting an event.
• To develop an understanding about how reporting becomes biased.
• To be more aware of how our own perceptions may be distorted.

Time: 90 minutes

Group size: 10 +

• Flip chart and pen.
• Tape for taping up flip charts.

1. Divide the group into two.
2. Ask one group to work together to develop a short 5-minute role-play based on an incident or event. This can be a real event or one made up involving conflict between two groups with different cultures or lifestyles.
3. When they are ready, ask the first group to perform the sketch to the second who play the roles of TV reporters who are covering the event.
4. As soon as the sketch is over ask the reporters to leave the room. Give them five minutes to think about what they have seen and to mentally prepare their report as if for the evening news bulletin. They are not allowed to write notes or to communicate with each other.
5. Then invite the reporters back into the room one at a time. Give each 3 minutes to make their 'report'.
6. Record each report on a separate piece of flip chart.
7. Once they have told their story, tell the reporters they may stay and listen to the other 'reports', but must make no comments.
8. At the end, when all reporters have told their story, tape the flip charts up round the room.
9. Ask the participants to compare the reports and talk about what they have learned.

Debriefing and evaluation:
Start by asking the reporters:
• What did you find easiest to remember and report?
• What was hardest?
• What did you do if you couldn't remember something exactly?

Then ask the actors:
• Were there any significant omissions in the reports?
• Did the reporters give an accurate report of the event?

Then open up the discussion to everybody:
• What do you expect in the news? Just a report of events or also comments and opinion?
• Do reporters generally make it clear what is fact and what is comment?
• How reliable do you think the news we get on the television is?

Tips for the facilitator:
Be prepared to offer information and examples of news, stories which have been shown to be biased.
Optional: Keep the activity alive by using a large frame to represent the TV and something to represent a microphone for the reporters.

The reporters represent journalists from different newspapers e.g. a right wing paper, a left wing paper, a tabloid, a foreign correspondent from another country etc. who report the story accordingly. During discussion talk about how the reports differed and whether the different 'view points' influenced the report.

Ask the questions:
• What influence do the owners, advertisers, links with political parties etc. have on what is    broadcast and on our understanding of the news?
  Is the way we think affected by this influence?

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