Making TV News
By Alan Shapiro
To the Teacher:
Most of us probably take "the news" we watch on TV for granted. We may not think too much about how reporters, editors, and executives define and shape the news, how they choose to emphasize certain stories and omit others.
The materials below include:
- Exercise 1, in which students play reporters and editors making decisions about what to cover and how
- Exercise 2, in which students conduct a comparative survey of TV news coverage
- Reading 1, which presents some basic facts about the business of TV news
- Reading 2, which invites students to take a critical look at how TV news is covering the presidential campaign
Reporting a TV news story
1. Stage a brief event in your classroom with the help of one or more other adults. The event might be almost anything: a short, angry argument about a school issue; a wordless series of actions; a gossipy discussion. The event should be a surprise to the class, and all students should see and hear whatever takes place.
2. Have students then imagine that they are local TV reporters who were present during the event. Ask them to write an account to be presented in a TV news report.
3. Divide the class into groups of four. Tell them that they are now playing the role of TV editors. Ask the editors to:
- read their accounts to one another
- select the one they regard as best
- imagine that the event was filmed (an artificial, though potentially useful, exercise) and decide what portion or portions of the film to include
- cut the story in half because of time limitations
- determine where in the telecast the story should appear. Should it be the lead story, somewhere in the middle, or the final story? (Other stories for the telecast might be student council election results; a PTA report on school building repairs; announcement of the casting for a school theatrical production; a profile of the football team's quarterback; and an assembly on the new content of the SATs.)
4. Have an editor from each group present its report to the class. As the editors make their presentations, students should listen very carefully and take notes. (You may want to have the editors present their report more than once so that students can take it all in.)
- What significant differences are there in how the report begins compared to the other reports students have heard?
- What facts does the report include that others don't?
- What "opinion words" does a report include that others don't?
- Does the report indicate the sources for the information it presents? If so, how?
- What kind of attitude toward the event does the report show? Is that attitude different from that presented in other reports?
- How much time is given for the story, and where is the story placed in the newscast? Is the time allotment and story placement different than that in other reports?
- What overall impression does the report create? How is it different from the impression created by the other reports?
5. What preliminary generalizations can students now make about TV news, based on their limited experience as TV reporters and editors?
The students' experience should make them aware or reinforce their understanding that:
- News is not just "out there" to be collected; it is constructed by reporters, editors, and executives.
- News reports often differ, sometimes in important ways.
- Our view of "the news" is shaped in part by what stories are included in a broadcast and how much time and prominence is given to a story - as well as by the language and graphic images used in the story.
How do TV reporters, editors, and executives define and present "the news"?
The major TV networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) each present a 30-minute national and international news program every weekday evening. The Public Broadcasting Service airs a 60-minute-long early evening new program, as do the all-news cable channels CNN and Fox News Channel. MSNBC has a 105-minute news program that airs in the late afternoon. Check local TV listings to get the times.
1. Divide the class into seven groups and assign each to one of the seven programs noted above. Everyone is to view and make entries in their notebooks on the same evening. It may be a good idea to give students within each group separate assignmentsófor instance, Student 1 might tracks the story items and time allotments; Student 2 might note special effects, etc.
2. Ask students to record the subject of every story covered in their broadcast, as well as every commercial and program promotion. Record these in the order they are presented and make a note of how much time each is allotted.
- Iraq violence (1 min., 15 seconds)
- Bush campaign (30 seconds)
- Kerry campaign (32 seconds)
- Commercial for Ford (30 seconds)
- Commercial for J.P. Morgan (30 seconds)
- Iranian earthquake (40 seconds)
- Commercial for Dove (30 seconds)
- Promotion for the network's Saturday movie (1 minute)
Ask students to note any special ways in which a story is introduced. For example, is a story preceded by any prominent banner like "War in Iraq" or "Campaign 2004" along with the American flag?
Ask students to record how each story in the newscast is presented: Is the story a film with a voiceover? Is it delivered by "a talking head"? Does it include an interview or a diagram?
Students should take note of any especially dramatic touches: special effects, colors, camera angles, how people look, locations.
3. In class, have students meet in their groups to compare notes and
answering the following questions. Afterward, each group should prepare a report to the class.
- What kinds of events were reported? Political? Disaster? Financial? Weather?
- How much time was allotted to each kind if event? How much time was allotted to commercials and station promotions?
- Which stories were given special prominence and emphasis? How?
- What kinds of events can you think of that were not reported though they must have occurred? For example: Suffering because of disease and poverty in parts of the U.S., family relationships, sermons by religious leaders, AIDS in southern Africa, the plight of refugees in Sudan; a political protest; an excellent musical or athletic performance or piece of work by students in your school; a town council meeting somewhere in the U.S. to consider budget problems, etc.
4. A student from each group should provide a detailed report of its findings, which should be charted on the chalkboard.
5. When all reports are concluded, the class will have before it a summary of everyone's work under such headings as "ABC." Under that will be a list of all news stories and commercials reported and how much time they were allotted, in the order in which they appeared. The chalkboard chart might also include notes about each story's prominence, method, special effects, etc. (To better compare the broadcasts you may want to prepare two chalkboard charts, one for the 30-minute programs, the other for the 60-minute-plus programs.)
6. Although the raw data they have compiled are for only seven telecasts on one evening, students should be able to make some tentative generalizations about TV news programs. What do the reporters, editors, and executives regard as news and how do they present it? Specifically:
- What specific events received the most prominence as judged by their placement, time allotted, and any special effects and presentations? What kinds of events are these? Political? Financial? Social?
- What kinds of events received little or no attention? What events were reported on a particular news program but not on another?
- What differences are there in time allotments?
Exercise 2 aims to:
- Reinforce the idea that TV news is constructed, that it is not simply a reflection of the world
- Make students see new ways in which TV news creates a sense of reality and influences social and political values. (For example, TV news and the commercial messages that come with it affect our view of what is important and what is not. They aim to create consumers. They may teach certain civic values like patriotism but not others, like the virtues of challenging authority. They can influence how we feel and think about a political issue.)
7. Based on their work on Exercises 1 and 2, ask students to draft a several-sentence definition of "the news"óone that they think would be acceptable to TV news reporters, editors, and executives.
The business of TV news
When you go to a movie theater, listen to a favorite CD, or play a video game on a computer, you probably don't think about the business of movies, CDs, or video games. But making movies, producing CDs, and designing video games are all businesses. Business men and women run movie studies, CD labels, and video game productions. Just as they run professional baseball, football, and basketball teams as well as cell phone companies, automobile plants, and computer corporations. They also run TV networks and manage the business of TV news. Whatever other motivations they have, they must concern themselves with making money, or else there won't be any business to manage. Here are a few basic facts about the TV business.
Who owns the airwaves?
In the U.S., the airwaves which a TV signal travels through belong to the people of the United States. So the owners of a TV station or network must have a license from a U.S. government agency, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). They must also agree to operate in "the public interest."
But what is "the public interest"? When Michael Powell, the current chairman of the FCC, was asked at his first news conference about the meaning of "the public interest," he said, "I have no idea. It's an empty vessel in which people pour in whatever their...views or biases are."
The FCC has never denied the renewal of a broadcasting license to any applicant. It has not established guidelines for how TV stations should meet their public interest responsibilities. But the fact remains: you are one of the owners of the airwaves that a TV signal travels through. In theory, at least, you have a say in how the airwaves are used and what our government should consider to be in "the public interest."
What do the American people get for giving TV stations the free use of public airwaves?
They get whatever network and local station programming is offeredóalthough they must pay for it if, as is the case for most Americans, they have cable service.
In 1963, for the first time in U.S. history, a majority of Americans said they got their news mainly from TV. However, the major networks offer Americans less and less news. For example, presidential campaign coverage by network evening news in 2000 was one-third less than that of the 1996 election. As for local elections, in 2002 more than half of local newscasts included no coverage at all. TV network executives have argued that Americans who want election coverage can get it from cable stations. But 35 million Americans don't get cable. And even the majority who do are unlikely to learn anything about local elections from their cable station, because most cable channels are national, not local. (Michael J. Copps, an FCC commissioner, New York Times, 8/30/04)
Who owns the TV networks, channels, and stations?
A handful of large corporate conglomerates own the TV networks (ABC, NBC, and CBS) and many of the TV stations around the country.
General Electric (GE) manufactures light bulbs, washing machines, computers, aircraft engines, and cars, among many other products. It also sells health insurance, retirement plans, and home mortgages, and many other services. And it owns 50 percent of NBC, CNBC, and MSNBC (Microsoft owns the other 50 percent of that network). GE also owns AMC, Bravo, WE, IFC, and 25 percent of A&E and the History and Biography channels as well as 13 TV stations. In 2002, GE's businesses brought in $129.9 billion. (See GE's overview of holdings at its website, www.ge.com/en/company/businesses/index.htm.)
The News Corporation is an international media and entertainment company with total annual revenues of about $21 billion. Its holdings include Twentieth Century Fox and other movie production studios; newspapers in the U.S., Britain, Australia, and New Zealand; several book publishing houses, including Harper Collins; TV Guide and other magazines. The News Corporation's TV networks include: Fox, FX, FMC, Fox News Channel, National Geographic Channel (67 percent), Health Network, TV Guide Channel, and the Television Games Network. The News Corporation also has extensive international holdings in cable, broadcast and satellite TV systems and channels in Asia, Europe, Latin America and Australia and owns 26 TV stations, two each in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas. (See the News Corporation website for details: www.newscorp.com/index2.html.)
Viacom, which owns CBS, also owns MTV, Nickelodeon, Nick at Nite, VH1, BET, Paramount Pictures, Infinity Broadcasting, Viacom Outdoor, UPN, TV Land, Comedy Central, Country Music Television, Spike TV, Showtime, Blockbuster, and the book publishing company Simon & Schuster. (See Viacom's website for details: www.viacom.com/thefacts.tin.)
Disney, which owns ABC, also owns Disney Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, Miramax Films, Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Disney parks and resorts around the world, Hyperion Books, and ESPN Radio and also holds a major interest in Lifetime Entertainment Services, A&E, and E! (For more information, see the Disney site: http://corporate.disney.go.com/corporate/overview.html)
How do TV networks, channels, and stations make money?
Advertising is the major source of income for TV network, channel, and station owners. They will take in nearly $1.5 billion for political advertising during the 2004 political campaign. (Michael J. Copps, New York Times, 8/30/04)
The more viewers watching a regular program, the more a network can charge for a commercial selling soap, cereal, cars, or anything else. A 30-second commercial shown during special programs like the Super Bowl can cost more than $1 million. Other sources of income include:
1) the syndication or sale of popular shows like The Simpsons and Roseanne that are shown throughout the world and also make money through commercials for those to whom the rights have been sold
2) the sale of videos and DVDs of programs.
What do media corporations contribute to politicians and how do they work to influence them?
In 2002 Viacom contributed $1 million to Congressional candidates. Between 1993 and 2000 Viacom, GE, Disney and other media corporations contributed $75 million to candidates running for federal offices and to the Republican and Democratic parties. They also spent $113.3 million to lobby Congress and the Executive Branch of the U.S. government between 1996 and mid-2000. They spent additional millions for all-expenses-paid trips for FCC employees and members of Congress. Media corporations have a financial interest in any legislation in Congress or regulations being considered by the FCC that affect them.
Three views on covering the news
1. "Covering the news, once seen primarily as a public service that could also make a profit, became primarily a vehicle for attracting audiences and selling advertising to make money."
ó Leonard Downie Jr. and Robert Kaiser, The News About the News: American Journalism in Peril
2. "The mass media is not only capable of shaping products but also shaping the perceptions we have. It's not just a question of what we see but what we don't see, what we are told but what we are not told. It's a question of whose stories are told and who's doing the telling....Public policy is frequently based on public perception....So clearly, what stories are told and what stories are left out really can shape our perceptions and then, as a result of that, public policy."
ó Dr. David Considine, Professor of Media Studies, Appalachian State University
3. "Media concentration is a dagger in America's heart-the First Amendment. There are at least four consequences: First, there are fewer owners of dominant media. Fewer cities with meaningful competition... Owners have ultimate control over content. So there's potentially, and actually, less diversity of information and opinion. Second, profit pressures produce a dumbing down of journalism...
Third, multimedia conglomerates are a publicist's dream. Global hype of manufactured blockbusters and superstars can, and does, replace diversity, quality, and new talent.... Finally, the Supreme Court considers such conglomerates the First Amendment equivalent of a soapbox orator or tract writer 200 years ago. The only Americans with meaningful First Amendment rights today are those who own the media....Unless you have billions in spare pocket change and buy one of the Big Ten [media corporations] for yourself, you're out of the game. Silenced. The Court says with a First Amendment right to speak goes the right to censor all others. It's OK to own the only conduit in town and also censor its content."
ó Nicholas Johnson, FCC commissioner from 1966 to 1973, The Nation, January 7/14, 2002
Suggestions for classwork
Divide the class into groups of four to six students.
Ask each group to imagine that they are FCC commissioners and must determine specifically what all broadcasters must do in order to advance "the public interest." For instance, students might consider requiring that all broadcasters:
- provide children's programming
- allot a certain amount of time for public service announcements and statements by political candidates (which would cut down on the huge sums candidates now raise to run commercials)
- provide a certain amount of local news coverage
- provide a diversity of opinion on the country's major social and economic problems.
After the groups have met for 20-30 minutes, assign students to write a paper defining "the public interest" and including a few specific examples.
- What questions do students have about any issues raised in the reading?
- What are their own sources of news? How many watch a TV news program regularly? A tabulation of the results might be of interest.
- Did the class survey of TV news coverage affect students' choices or opinions about what they watch? If so, how?
- In the past, most Americans got their news from newspapers. But for nearly 50 years, the majority have gotten it mostly from TV. What differences can you think of between news printed in newspapers and news presented on TV?
- Do you think it matters that people watch TV news programs that originate far from where they live? (For example, someone living in a small town in Alabama might get their news from CNN in New York City.) If so, how? If not, why not?
- Why do you think media corporations spend millions of dollars on political contributions and on lobbying representatives and senators?
- Since TV news is a commercial enterprise, how do you think the need to make money might influence what you see on TV news?
Select one of the three views on covering the news and write a short essay in which you respond to the appropriate question.
View 1: What difference does it make whether TV news is presented as a public service or is primarily as a vehicle for making money?
View 2: What perceptions do you have of either of the major party presidential candidates? In what ways do you think these perceptions were shaped by TV?
View 3: Is media concentration "a dagger in America's heart-the First Amendment"? Why or why not?
Viewing TV news critically
1. Preparing the News at Fox
The following memos were sent by Fox News's senior editorial vice president John Moody to his staff to guide them in preparing reports for the Fox News Channel. The memos were leaked by Fox News employees and became public. Fox's slogan, "Fair and Balanced" is often shown on the Fox News Channel screen and stated by Fox reporters.
3/25/04: "As is often the case, the real news in Iraq is being obscured by temporary tragedy (for example, suicide and roadside bombings). The creation of a defense ministry, which will be run by Iraqis, is a major step forward in the country's redevelopment."
4/6/04: "Do not fall into the easy trap of mourning the loss of U.S. lives in Iraq and asking out why are we there? The U.S. is in Iraq to help a country brutalized for thirty years, protect the gains made by Operation Iraqi Freedom and set it on the path to democracy. Some people in Iraq don't want that to happen. This is why American GIs are dying. And what we should remind our viewers."
4/28/04: "Let's refer to the U.S. Marines we see in the foreground as 'sharpshooters,' not snipers, which carries a negative connotation."
For discussion or for writing:
- What do you understand the Fox slogan "Fair and Balanced" to mean?
- What issues concerning "Fair and Balanced" news reporting does each memo raise for students? For example, should a news reader say what "the real news" in Iraq is or that "The creation of a defense ministry, which will be run by Iraqis, is a major step forward in the country's redevelopment"? Why or why not?
- What is the difference between a TV news report and a TV editorial or opinion? Assuming that a Fox news reporter followed the advice of the 4/6 memo, what would be the likely result: a news report? an editorial? both? Why?
- The 4/28 memo invites discussion of the denotation and connotation of words in news reporting. For example, during the war on Iraq, Fox and other news channels introduced newscasts by showing a banner proclaiming, "Operation Iraqi Freedom." Many people in Arab countries would perhaps have called it "Operation American Invasion" or "Operation American Oil Grab." What is the potential impact on TV viewers of these different ways of labeling?
Watch at least two Fox News Channel news programs that report on the Bush and Kerry presidential campaigns. Then, based on what you have seen and heard and on discussions of Fox memos to its staff, write a short essay in which you discuss, with evidence, your opinion of how well Fox lives up to its news slogan "Fair and Balanced."
2. Reporting Statistics on TV News
a. Kerry & Taxes
At a fundraiser in Denver on June 1, George Bush, speaking of his opponent John Kerry, told the crowd, "You make sure your friends and neighbors understand that as a United States senator, he voted over 350 times for higher taxes on the American people."
"However," Bryan Keefer wrote in the Columbia Journalism Review (July/August 2004), "only a fraction of these 350 votes...are votes to increase taxes directly. Rather, the number is padded with votes on various tax matters spanning Kerry's twenty years in the Senate: votes against decreasing taxes, votes to trim proposed tax cuts, votes against repealing tax hikes that were already enacted, and votes in favor of tax cuts that were smaller than what Republicans had proposed. Confused? That's the idea. Piling such misleading numbers... produces a knot of spin that is difficult to untangleóbut easy to quote for a punchy sound bite. Bush's '350 votes' claim made its way into a couple of hundred print and television reports in March, April, and May....a poll by the national Annenberg Election Survey conducted in April and early May found that 56 percent of adults in battleground states thought it was 'probably' or 'definitely' true that Kerry had voted for higher taxes 350 times."
Question: Is Bush justified in making the charge that Kerry "voted over 350 times for higher taxes on the American people"? Why or why not? Should a TV news report on the charge against Kerry include the kind of information Bryan Keefer says is relevant? Why or why not?
b. Bush & Taxes
The White House produced a fact sheet on tax day (April 15) claiming that "109 million American taxpayers will see their taxes decline by an average of $1,544" as a result of the tax cuts promoted by the Bush administration and approved by Congress.
On the day of the White House news release, Suzanne Malveaux told CNN viewers, "Today administration officials are encouraging people and essentially telling them the message here is that 109 million Americans now get an average tax break of more than $1,500."
Imagine ten taxpayers. Taxpayer l receives a tax cut of $1,544. Taxpayer 2's tax cut is $777. Taxpayer 3's tax cut is $3,088. Taxpayer 4's tax cut is $6,176. Taxpayer 5's tax cut is $3,855. But taxpayers 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 receive no tax cut. What is the average tax cut received by these ten taxpayers? (According to an Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center analysis, when the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts are fully phased in, the majority of filers will get less than half of Bush's "average." Those in top income brackets, meanwhile, are reaping tens of thousands of dollars annually.)
Question: Should CNN's Suzanne Malveaux have said anything further in her report? Why or why not?
Writing assignment: Write a letter to Suzanne Malveaux of CNN expressing, with evidence, your opinion of her news report of 4/15/04 on the White House news release.
3. Bush versus Kerry: Biased TV news reporting?
Here are some examples of what the Media Research Center regards as evidence of "liberal media bias" in the presidential campaign.
a. Early in March 2004 the CBS Evening News emphasized that President Bush's public approval rating had fallen below 50 percent. In late February and early March it reported that polls showed John Kerry leading George Bush. But the CBS Evening News of March 15 did not report that Bush's public approval rating was once again above 50 percent. Nor did it report that the latest CBS/New York Times poll showed Bush leading Kerry by 46 percent to 43 percent.
Media Research Center President Brent Bozell commented: "If the CBS Evening News cannot report in a fair and balanced fashion about this election they need to get out of the news business...the CBS Evenings News's refusal to report (the latest poll findings favoring Bush) show the network has already chosen sides in this election and is not credible." (mediaresearch.org)
Question: Did Bozell make a fair criticism of the CBS Evening News? Why or why not?
b. "As John Kerry celebrates his nomination with a coast-to-coast bus trip...conservatives are complaining....They say that journalists' liberal bias has colored reviews of the Democratic convention and his speech....When asked who would be a better President the journalists Ö picked Mr. Kerry 3-1 and the ones from Washington favored him 12-1. Those results jibe with previous surveys over the past two decades showing that journalists tend to be Democrats, especially the ones based in Washington. Some surveys have found that more than 80 percent of the [Washington] press corps votes Democratic." (John Tierney, New York Times, 8/1/04)
Question: Can journalists who support a particular candidate and political party be fair TV news reporters? Why or why not?
c. The Media Research Center said that CBS News "fawned over John Kerry's convention appearance" in July, but "belittled George W. Bush's effort." For instance, it cites the following:
- Just before Kerry stepped into the convention hall, CBS reporter Byron Pitts said, "Before every important event Kerry will make a sign of the cross, then kiss the St. Christopher's medallion his mother gave him as a child." Pitts added that Kerry always keeps his Vietnam dog tags with him as a reminder he's "been down, but he always finds a way to get up." After Kerry's speech, Pitt told viewers that Kerry's mother "supposedly told him, 'integrity, that's what matters,'" and "tonight John Kerry tried to show that integrity." After Kerry's acceptance speech, CBS's Bob Schieffer said, "This is the best speech I have ever heard John Kerry make."
- Five weeks later, after George W. Bush's acceptance speech, CBS reporter John Roberts said that Bush "seems to have completely forgotten about Osama bin Laden, who remains at large. There was no talk about him. Also no talk about a couple of other great challenges facing America on the international stage, and those are the problems with nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea." CBS's Schieffer said the speech "was too long," and added, "We were told that he was going to lay out a bold program, a bold agenda for the next four years. I'm not sure he did that, but...he did lay out a list of ideas, many of which had been around for quite some time."
Questions: Did CBS show evidence of bias in its presidential convention reporting? Why or why not?
Assignment: View at least two CBS evening news programs with an eye and an ear for any bias. Then write an essay in which you discuss your findings about bias in CBS.
4. Kerry's Military Record: Sloppy TV News Reporting?
In August 2004 a controversy that erupted about John Kerry's military service in Vietnam was given a great deal of TV attention. The group of Vietnam Veterans calling itself "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" ran ads that accused Kerry of lying about his military record. (The Swift boats were a particular type of boat used in Vietnam.) Did Kerry misrepresent and exaggerate his record? Did he deserve his Purple Hearts (awarded by the army for combat wounds) and medals?
The following quotes and information are from a New York Times article about this debate and the coverage of it. (The story is by reporter Alessandra Stanley, 8/24/04.)
"Fred Barnes, ...a regular Fox commentator, ardently defended the Swift boat critics of Mr. Kerry, saying on Fox that a majority of the senator's Vietnam brethren believed that Mr. Kerry 'fabricated or exaggerated his record.' Mr. Barnes added that 'the entire chain of command above Kerry have said the same thing.' He did not mention any notable exceptions in that chain of command, including Senator John W. Warner, Republican of Virginia, a former secretary of the Navy who said Mr. Kerry fully merited the Silver Star. Mr. Barnes's hyperbole went unchecked.
"CNN showed less relish over the Swift boat clash, but it was not much more helpful in separating fact from fiction. Wolf Blitzer's interview with...[former Senator and 1996 Republican presidential candidate] Bob Dole made a lot of news..., but CNN allowed him to make misleading assertions without pointing out where he was in error. Mr. Dole suggested that Mr. Kerry was in a rush to obtain his Purple Hearts to meet a regulation that allowed soldiers to leave the war zone after winning three. 'I mean, the first one, whether he ought to have a Purple Heartóhe got two in one day, I think....(Mr. Kerry did not receive two Purple Hearts for events of the same day. He received them for the events of Dec. 2, 1968; Feb. 20, 1969; and March 13, 1969.)"
Question: What obligation, if any, does a TV news program have when commentators or guests make factually inaccurate statements?
A concluding discussion
The Center for Media Literacy (www.medialit.org) offers the following concepts and corresponding questions for media literacy education, all of which apply to TV reporting of political news.
Five Core Concepts
1. All media messages are constructed
2. Media messages are constructed using a creative language with its own rules.
3. Different people experience the same messages differently.
4. Media have embedded values and points of view.
5. Media messages are constructed to gain profit and/or power.
Five Key Questions
1. Who created this message?
2. What techniques are used to attract my attention?
3. How might different people understand this message differently from me?
4. What lifestyles, values, and points of view are represented in or omitted from this message?
5. Why was this message sent?
- Discuss examples of each of the five core concepts based on class study of "Making TV News."
- What is the significance of each of the five key questions? Are there other questions you think are also very important to ask?
For further inquiry
During the remainder of the presidential campaign students might be assigned to regular beats to monitor, report on, and evaluate the quality of TV reporting about Bush and Kerry. Class time could be allotted one or more times a week for reports to the class on findings. Students could also prepare weekly reports and assessments of TV reporting they have monitored.
The following resources report regularly on the media in general and TV in particular.
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