Lesson of the Day: ‘As Trump Seeks to Project Strength, Doctors Disclose Alarming Episodes’

Lesson of the Day: ‘As Trump Seeks to Project Strength, Doctors Disclose Alarming Episodes’

During the Warm Up to this lesson, we asked you to list the sources of your information. How reliable do you consider them? How reliable do you consider The New York Times, the source of information in this lesson so far? Why?

As the teacher and writer Kelly Gallagher suggests in the Twitter message above, taking a look at how news sources frame the same story differently can be eye-opening. Collect recent examples from print newspapers (one source: Today’s Front Pages), websites, social media, television and radio, making sure to look for information across a range of political perspectives. (To help figure out how to do that, you might consult this University of Michigan guide that asks, “What news sources are left-leaning, centrist, or right-leaning?” It acknowledges, however, that even that question is complicated, writing “There is no completely clear answer to this question because there is no one exact methodology to measure and rate the partisan bias of news sources.” For example, you may have seen this chart, though many consider it misleading too.)

Once you have a collection, ask yourself, “What do I notice?” What jumps out at you immediately? Look closely: How have different news outlets framed the information via the use of elements like headlines, images, what sources of information are quoted or referenced in the piece, and more? What is the overall narrative about this news from each source? How can you tell?

In general, why might different news sources tell the same story in different ways? Are any news sources “unbiased”? What is the danger in getting your news from just one source, no matter how reliable you consider that source to be?

The News in the Context of the Pandemic

Coronavirus deaths just passed a million worldwide — more than H.I.V., more than dysentery, and more than malaria, influenza, cholera and measles combined. And, according to this piece, the United States is currently at a critical point in the pandemic:

Spread of the virus could worsen significantly through the autumn, experts fear, as colder weather forces people indoors. Winter, paired with a new flu season, could make the precarious situation of today even worse. Every day, some 43,000 new cases are being reported — far fewer than were being identified during the surge in the summer, but still an uncomfortably large number.

How is your state, city or community faring right now in the fight to contain the pandemic? What has worked well in your area? What hasn’t? How do you feel our leaders, local and national, have responded to the crisis?

As part of our Civil Conversation Challenge this year, we are asking students to weigh in on these questions and more. Let us know your thoughts in our special forum on the coronavirus pandemic by Oct. 30, the last day our Challenge will run.