Friday, January 7, 2011

Trying a New Spin on Current Events

I am teaching an elective class this semester on current events. While it would be easy to come up with stories for the students to look at and talk about, I am more interested in helping them develop critical thinking skills from the context as well as the content.

I believe too much of the news we consume is pre-packaged from a few large sources, think of it as fast food news. Are we supposed to give as much credibility to the stories written by anonymous writers working for big organizations more than the local beat reporters that write under their own by-line?

I also want my students to think critically about the importance of the news being reported. Do these stories directly effect us, our nation, or our world? Are they distractions such as sports or entertainment stories or are they really important? My suspicion is that most of the news people want to read falls into the former category.

To begin the semester I have had the students visiting international news sites (we are in the United States.) I have asked them to look for differences in word choice, and types of stories that are being reported.  Thanks to the Ted Williams story, we had a chance to discuss word choices from different sources. I was actually quite surprised by my students' responses.

What do you think about the way I am approaching this subject? Do you have any advice or some different ideas?

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