Media Moments Western Reserve Public Media

Decision Makers


Looking at the Content of the News — Middle School and High School

The “gatekeepers” or the decision makers are the people who determine what will be included in news broadcasts or in newspapers. For television these people include the director, the producer, the reporters and the anchorperson. For the press, we include editors, publishers and reporters. They are responsible for what is included or excluded and how much space or time is allotted to each story. Our knowledge of the world is sometimes limited by what we are told by these decision makers. We must be aware that the selection of content is the subjective choice of the decision makers.


Student will write a paper comparing and contrasting news content of different channels on television (or different newspapers).



Standard Addressed:

Language Arts, Writing, Communication
Grade 9, Benchmark B, Listening and Viewing

2. Identify types of arguments used by the speaker, such as authority and appeals to emotion.

3. Analyze the credibility of the speaker (e.g., hidden agendas, slanted or biased material) and recognize fallacies of reasoning used in presentations and media messages.



Television, key person to interview, chart paper to make posters



  1. Put the students into groups of three or four

  2. Have each group select a channel on TV and watch the news for one week. During this week they are to write down the topic of stories and a brief summary of the “slant” of the segment.

  3. Have each group make a display of the stories that were covered for that week. The display should include the channel being watched, the time and length of the show, and the topic being discussed for each day of the week.

  4. Sample:

    Channel: ______________________
    Time: _________________________












  5. Compare and contrast the channels. Include topics that are similar and see if there is a theme for these topics. Have the students discuss
  6. a. Whether the topics are the same on all of the channels
    b. What other topics could have been included.
    c. Why they think certain topics were covered and others weren’t
    d. If there are recurring themes.
    e. If the images that were shown made a difference or had impact

  7. Invite the editor of your local newspaper or television station to come into your classroom and discuss how he/she selects stories to be used.

  8. Have the students attend an event and write a news story to tell about what happened at that event.





The following rubric will be used for evaluation.

CATEGORY 4 3 2 1
Organization Information in logical, interesting sequence which reader can follow. Student presents information in logical sequence which reader can follow. Reader has difficulty following work because student jumps around. Sequence of information is difficult to follow.
Content Knowledge Student demonstrates full knowledge (more than required). Student is at ease with content, but fails to elaborate. Student is uncomfortable with content and is able to demonstrate basic concepts. Student does not have grasp of information; student cannot answer questions about subject.
Grammar and Spelling Presentation has no misspellings or grammatical errors Presentation has no more than two misspellings and/or grammatical errors. Presentation has three misspellings and/or grammatical errors. Work has four or more spelling errors and/or grammatical errors.
Neatness Work is neatly done. Work has one or two areas that are sloppy. Work has three or four areas that are sloppy. Work is Illegible.
References Work displays the correct number of references, written correctly. Reference section was completed incorrectly Work does not have the appropriate number of required references. Work displays no references.
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