Below are comprehension questions for the text The Media's Role in a Democracy. Answer the questions as fully as you are able. Avoid copying from the source text: Use your own words.
- What do we mean when we say the media is the people's watchdog?
- What are the three branches of government in democracies?
- What role does the media play in relation to the three branches of government?
- Why is it important that we have a free press?
- Why is it bad for a democracy when people lose faith in the media?
- What would you say are the three most important reasons why people have lost faith in the media in recent years?
Study the news pages of either the BBC, Al Jazeera, or NPR.
- Find examples of news stories that you believe show the media acting as the people's watchdog.
- Find examples of news stories that you believe are made to generate traffic on the news site, or are made for entertainment.
- Share what you have found with a partner, and find out if they agree with your assessment of the news stories you have found.
Pick one of the topics to research and make a 10 minute presentation about it.
- Present news stories that show the media acting as the people's watchdog, and explain why these stories are so important.
- In recent years the media has often been accused of bias or spreading fake news. Make a presentation where you study media bias in either the UK or the USA. Explain how common media bias and fake news is, and discuss what consequences this may have for the democracy in the country you have studied.
- In recent years revelations have been made about how companies such as Cambridge Analytica used personal information about voters purchased from internet sites to manipulate the outcome of elections. Make a presentation where you explain what happened, and discuss how democracy can be protected from similar manipulation in the future. You may want to start by having a look at Carole Cadwalladr's Ted talk about the topic. Link to Carole Cadwalladr's Ted talk about voter manipulation.
Have a classroom debate:
- Study the tasks below and reach agreement on which task you want to work on in class.
- Divide into debating teams.
- The teams draw a side. They must argue in favour of or against the topic.
- Study the topic and find background material.
- Prepare arguments.
- Find examples that support your arguments, or undermine the likely arguments of the other team.
- Hold the debate.
- Would it be a good idea to make the media's role as the people's watchdog official? In this discussion one side argues that the media should be entirely independent from the government, and the other argues that the media should be given official status as the fourth power, with clearly stated responsibilities and limits.
- Even in democracies there are limits to freedom of expression. Overstepping those limits can lead to punishment such as fines or imprisonment. But where exactly should the limits on freedom of expression be placed? In this discussion one side argues in favour of freedom of expression being as limitless as possible, while the other side argues in favour of stricter limits.
- In October 2020 New Zealand journalist Tova O'Brien interviewed Jami-Lee Ross, a politician who had spread false information in a recent election. Tova O'Brien became world famous for not allowing Ross to repeat the misinformation, and calling him out for lying to the electorate. In this discussion one side argues that journalists should always be objective and offer a balanced view of the news, while the other side argues that it is a journalists foremost task to bring the truth to light.
- In recent years journalists such as Carole Cadwalladr have revealed how personal information collected from social media has been used to manipulate voters. Companies such as Cambridge Analytica have been offering help to politicians all over the world to manipulate the outcome of elections. In this discussion one team argues on behalf of companies like Cambridge Analytica and their right to use any means to help politicians win elections, and the other side argues in favour of protecting democracy from manipulation.