Social Activism and the Media

Students also scrutinize the current role of the press in American democracy. Students may be presented with a series of compelling questions about the press (and its changing role in American political life over time) and be encouraged to form their own questions. To what extent are the press and the media fulfilling a watchdog role? Do media outlets provide enough relevant information about government and politics to allow citizens to vote and participate in a well-informed way? How has the Internet revolution impacted journalism, and what are its effects on the coverage of public affairs and current issues? How do elected officials and candidates for public office utilize the mass media to further their goals? Students may begin to answer these questions with a brief review of the First Amendment’s freedom of speech and of the press clauses and key U.S. Supreme Court press cases such as Near v. Minnesota (1931), New York Times Co. v. Sullivan (1964) and Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier (1988). Students should also discuss the responsibility of citizens to be informed about public issues by using the various media wisely. Students can engage in current-event and multimedia projects that would enable them to explore issues. For example, students may select a current issue of interest and research it by using multiple print and electronic media sources and analyze factual differences, bias, point of view and conclusions of each source. Based on their research, students could then write an evidence-based opinion piece on the issue.

Inquiry Question


How has the internet revolution impacted journalism and what are its effects on the coverage of public affairs and current issues?