You are about to investigate the role of the media in democratic societies. Your investigation will first consider your own interactions with the media, before you examine the factors that influence the media’s role in a democracy. Through your investigation you will become aware that ‘freedom of the press’, as an ethic, is not accepted in all societies, and that journalists face many obstacles, and even personal danger, in reporting stories about powerful organisations and people. You will also realise that, while the media is a source of power, it is also open to powerful controls, and that both of these can have an effect on democratic societies.
While you may choose to undertake this investigation on your own, you may also do it with other students in your class, or your teacher may lead the class in its investigation.
Defining the media
In a Think, Pair, Share exercise, complete the questions below, and formulate your definition of the ‘media’.
- Where do you get your news from? Complete the My Media Chart and compare your list with your partner’s. How many hours of news would you consume a week?
Type of Media
Name (program, newspaper, website)
Frequency (every day, twice a week, etc)
- How do you judge if a news source is authoritative? Discuss your views with a partner and prepare a checklist that you can use to check that a news source is authoritative.
- To what extent does the media influence your view of the world? List some of the positive, negative and interesting ways in which the media can or does shape the way you imagine the world. A Plus Minus and Interesting (PMI) chart may help with this task.
- Write a definition of the ‘media’, and, if you are able, contribute it to a class concept map of ‘the media’. Ensure that your definition includes what it is, the forms it takes, and its purposes, reach, content and influence.
- Does satire count as news media? Consider whether you would modify your definition to include satire?