IN RECENT MONTHS, there has been so much talk and debate about the trustworthiness of news coverage that I find myself wondering about the impact it may be having on students. It’s already too easy to become jaded about information in a world where everyone seems to be talking at the same time. Do young people know how to navigate their way through the commotion and take hold of what’s important? Do they even try?
As teachers, you undoubtedly have more insight on this than most of us, and I’m willing to bet that many of you are doing whatever you can to help students understand that information consumption is not a passive activity, but rather, an exercise of the mind which requires knowledge, discernment, and the ability to consider things in context.
I believe it’s essential to help students understand that when watching the news, or even just scanning social media, they are not merely being talked at, but talked to, and that being talked to gives them power in that they have the choice to either process the information or reject it. But deciding whether a piece of information is worth holding onto requires that they think it through—put it into context, consider the source, weigh the information against what they already know.
With regard to context, consider television news. How might coverage of a story vary from channel to channel? What angle do the news presenters pursue; what facts do they choose to emphasize; and what might that decision have to do with the makeup of their viewership, or where they’re located on the map? For example, Bloomberg Television, a financial news network, may emphasize the economic implications of a news story, whereas CNN and Fox News Channel look at it through a more political lens.
The same story on ESPN News would explore its implications for the sports world, whereas the British-flavored BBC America would be more likely to look at the facts in an international context.
Your DIRECTV SCHOOL CHOICE channel lineup features all these channels, along with many others that are either totally devoted to news and opinion, or feature specific news programs among their offerings. For example, there’s daily rural and agricultural news on RFD-TV; unvarnished coverage of current events on C-SPAN; and even Spanish-language news via Univision.
You could have your students do a comparative study of how different channels cover the same story, then host a discussion wherein they report their observations. Start by looking over all the services available to you in your DIRECTV SCHOOL CHOICE channel guide.
—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio
© DIRECTV 2017.