Journalism and Social Media

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  • Research and discuss the role(s) of:

    • social-journalism

    • Citizen-journalism

      • And their impact on local:
  • politics

  • legislation

  • Understanding

  • Students will choose a community (broad definition ex. local geographic community, local social community, local cultural geographic) to serve and report on the communities with an emphasis on learning how to listen, build relationships, and produce tangible impact.


Exploring the role of citizen and social journalism in our local and global society.

Expected Lesson Duration:

2-4 days

Interdisciplinary Connection(s) to Common Core

Lesson Procedure:

Introduction/Gain Attention

  • The class will begin with an image, video or, sound and the student and have them write a story about what is just off the boundary of the medium.


  • After the daily meme the students will be introduced to the relationship between journalism and social media, and how each has shaped one another.

  • The class will discuss the effect social media has had on journalism.

    • Prior to the instructor discussing the following points, students should be asked to give examples of how they believe social media has changed journalism.

    • Afterwards, the instructor should discuss the following points if they were not already addressed. Examples of how social media effectively changed the face of journalism include:

      1. Social media now serves as the main source of information for the public regardless of the low degree of reliability.

      2. Journalists have adopted a “publish first, correct if necessary” model as a means to generating and publicizing information as soon as possible on social media.

      3. Journalists feel less responsibility to adhere to the rules of journalism when producing content for social media than they do when producing content for traditional media such as newspapers and broadcasts.

        • Students may perform an exercise in which they are familiarized or familiarize themselves with common broadcast journalism rules. The students then find examples of journalism in social media, one for each of the broadcast journalism rules discussed or researched, in which the rule is broken from the transition from broadcast journalism to social media journalism.
      • Below are a few resources for common traditional/broadcast journalism rules/etiquette:

        -    [University of Wisconsin Eau Claire Broadcast Tips & Style](    
      1. Whereas the public used to receive news via televised or radio broadcasts, newspapers, and word of mouth, the public is now instantly notified of breaking news via their multiple smart devices. Circulation is no longer limited by resources or geographical location.

      2. Audiences are able to engage and interact with journalists and informants more easily and quickly. Journalists utilizing hashtags and other social media tactics allow their work to be spread and discussed amongst many.

      3. Audiences are able to contribute to a developing story with their own accounts or content, as well as other works of journalism.

      4. Journalists put less focus on fact-checking before they release their works, relying on audiences and the public to contribute crowd fact checking.

  • Students may identify examples in which social media served as the primary news source of an event or topic or the primary source of news for them personally, as in they first heard of the news via social media.

  • Ex: Employees at Youtube Headquarters were the first to break news of the shooting by tweeting that the building had an active shooter.

  • The class will discuss the development of selective news feeds.

    • Selective news feeds are the results of individuals seeking out journalism that typically aligns with their political and/or social opinions and views.

    • This results in the individual only seeing works of journalism that further support and seemingly validate their own views and opinions, while blocking out works that disagree or represent other views.

    • Selective news feeds create a biased individual who has little opportunity to expand their understanding of other views and opinions.

      • “People are much more able to surround themselves with stories that essentially corroborate whatever worldview they are already happen to hold.” – Jamie Bartlett, Center for the Analysis of Social MediaClick To Tweet
  • Students will have an exercise in which they use social media and the filters different social media platforms offer to create two different news feeds.

  • With one of the feeds, the student will aim to create an extremely selective, biased news feed that only feeds in journalistic works that align with the specified views.

    • With the other feed, the student will aim to make the feed generate journalistic works on unbiased and fair terms, meaning that the news feed contains both works that agree and disagree with a specific side.
  • The student will then compare the amount and types of content fed into both news feeds, and explain the effect and impact of the biased news feed cutting out the journalistic works that were included in the unbiased feed.

    • The instructor may ask that the student prepares a report, presentation, summary, graphical representation, or other options to compile their findings in regards to the different types and amounts of content generated by the different feeds, and the effect and impact a biased news feed has on an individual.
  • The class will discuss the danger of situations being taken out of context and publicized to social media.

  • The dangers of publicizing content to social media that has been taken out of context is apparent in this video

  • Students may offer or be asked to reflect on personal experiences or situations they know of in which posting to social media out of context had repercussions. At the least, students can hypothesize a situation in which posting content to social media out of context can have dire consequences.

  • The class will discuss the epidemic of fake news and how social media worsens the epidemic by spreading fake news like wildfire.

    • Students will perform an exercise in which they are to gather 5 articles (or some other specified number), at least 2 of which have to be fake news.

    • Snopes keeps an archive of fake news articles that will be helpful for this exercise.

    • The students will prepare an individual presentation in which they briefly flip through the articles while showing the class, announcing the article titles, and possibly giving a short description of each.

    • Prior to their presentation, the students will inform the instructor of which of their articles are fake news and which are legitimate.

    • Students will then present their collection of articles to the class, and the students must record whether they believe each of the articles to be real or fake news on a numbered sheet of paper. Students may discuss and debate with their classmates to arrive at a conclusion.

    • After each student has presented their collection of articles and each student has recorded whether the corresponding article is real or fake, the answers will be revealed and the students will check their answers to find that some or many articles they believed to be real were, indeed, fake.

    • Based on the amount of articles students believed were real, which actually turned out to be fake news and vice versa, students will have a newfound understanding of how easily one can be tricked into believing a fake news story. They will also seek an in depth understanding of how vast the fake news epidemic actually is.

    • To incentivize the exercise, the instructor may wish to have a reward for the “journalist” who detects the most fake news and accurately labels the most real news.

  • To wrap up the journalism and social media unit, students will have a small project in which they define social-journalism and citizen-journalism. In addition to defining these terms, students should explain the impact these types of journalism have on local politics, legislation, and understanding. Students will have they freedom to choose the media/form in which they deliver the project, whether it be a report, essay, short video, etc.

    • Students should be familiar with the topics of social and citizen journalism and the impacts that they have by the end of the lesson.

    • These terms may not have been explicitly defined during the lesson, but their concepts were explained and discussed in depth during the discussion of journalism and social media.

    • Formal definitions of these terms:

      • “The concept of citizen journalism (also known as “public”, “participatory”, “democratic”, “guerrilla”, or “street” journalism) is based upon public citizens “playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing, and disseminating news and information.” - Wikipedia

      • “Social journalism is a media model consisting of a hybrid of professional journalism, contributor, and reader content. It is similar to open publishing platforms, like Twitter and, except that some or most content is also created and/or screened by professional journalists.” - Wikipedia)

    • The instructor may also wish to assign the students to a Students will choose a community (broad definition ex. local geographic community, local social community, local cultural geographic) to serve and report on the communities with an emphasis on learning how to listen, build relationships, and produce tangible impact.


  • Define and explain the role of social-journalism in the realm of journalism and society

  • Define and explain the role of citizen-journalism in the realm of journalism and society

  • Understand the impact of social-journalism and citizen-journalism on local politics, legislation, and understanding

  • Increase presence and awareness in the community, including the people and issues within it

  • List the ways social media has changed the face of journalism, and the pros and cons of these effects

  • Describe the dangers of selective news feeds and how to prevent them

Content of Lesson

  • Acquiring Key Concepts: incorporating and utilizing all skills acquired during the imagery unit to produce an imagery heavy story.

  • Engaging in Experiential Learning: peer reviewing comic strips created by classmates, providing constructive criticism, and identifying concepts that were emphasized in class discussion within the work being peer reviewed.

  • Building Proficiencies: using skills developed thus far to create a unique imagery heavy story and reviewing classmates’ work while paying special attention to emphasized concepts such as diversity, POV, composition, and responsibility.

  • Connecting with STEM Professionals: view a video of a professional artist, filmer, producer, etc. working with comic strips or comics and discussing their work.

  • Assessing Learning: have students explain how they utilized individual skills gained throughout the unit in the creation of their comic strip. Students can also identify these skills being implemented or the presence of important concepts such as diversity, POV, composition, etc. in their classmates’ work.

Closure and Review

  • Reiterate the importance of storytelling in media, describe the amount of written work that is consumed by media outlets and the amount of recycled material that continues to be recirculated due to the lack of new material.

  • Explain the importance of diversity in the storytellers and writers due to experiences and how it shapes our stories.

Higher Level Thinking Skills Noted

  • Developing a dynamic story

  • Adapting stories due to character developments

  • Perception due to appearance


The art and skill of storytelling that will be practiced in this class will help the students reasoning skills, cognitive constructive capabilities, and develop character. The creation of a narrative requires the student to develop a logical order from a sequence of events. In order for the student to develop a meaningful arrangement of events the student must begin to grow their narrative reasoning skills. These skills can evolve through the consumption and dissection of narrative literature, of a mixed medium. While developing of their narrative reasoning skills the students should/ will become more empathetic to others, wise to deciphering the true purpose of the story, and become comprehensive thinkers of their own circumstances. The students are finally at the age in which they are beginning to construct their own narratives. We, as educators, want them to be exposed to a great diversity of narratives in order mature those narrative reasoning skills. The more developed their narrative reasoning skills are the more they get from a story (deeper perspective). The more advanced their skills, the more likely they are to rationalize why this character chose a particular path, place themselves in the characters shoes, and develop their own character.

Explorations and Extensions:

Does the dynamic aspect of storytelling take anything away from the message that the author may be trying to deliver?

Assessment Criteria for Success:

Content knowledge, student knowledge, and appropriate resources are aligned to instructional outcomes. Student learning will be assessed throughout the lesson via question responses and correlation to the project.

Students will have successfully met the outcomes when fundamental questions about the importance of storytelling and its role in imagery can be observed through their writing and reflections of their peers work. Also questions about their current disposition are taken into consideration when they see media should begin to arise. Also a fluid and respectful use of time, along with an essay that is fluid, easy to follow, and retains its essentials as an ELA.


To be completed upon the end of lesson.