Media Madness
Level 4 English Focus

Introduction to Media Madness

In this module students explore how the news media represents groups, including racial and religious groups, and the devices used to position readers.  The activities aim to help students become critical viewers of the news media.

All activities in this module are aligned to the Australian Curriculum: English, Years 9 and 10.  (Click here to see the Curriculum Links)

The module focuses on developing intercultural understanding through the following learning objectives.  Students will:

This guide provides information about the four activities in this module:

These activities are complementary but can also be used independently.  Each activity is supported with suggested teacher-led introductory and concluding activities.  For the online components students can work individually, in pairs or as small groups.  These activities can also be adapted for use with a smartboard.

You may find the Talking about contentious issues guide a useful reference throughout this module.

Activity 1: Group Headlines

In this activity students explore groups and their portrayal in the media.  They complete a quiz, guessing the missing word from a selection of headlines, and then use the headlines to construct the content of the news stories.

Introductory Activity — Offline

Ask students to work in six groups to create a pose or scene, each one depicting a stereotypical depiction of a group.  The groups could be, for example, hippies, teenagers, working men, Aussies, celebrities, and geeks.  Give students just a few minutes to plan in their groups, then ask each group to strike their pose, with other students guessing the group which is being portrayed.  Ask each group to explain and justify their chosen pose.

Online Activity

Before commencing this activity, familiarise your students with how to navigate through the website.

Part A: Fill in the gaps
Students are asked to complete a quiz in which they complete a news headline by guessing which group name (e.g. Asian) is missing from the headline.  They are provided with four options and told the correct answer after attempting each question.

Part B: Reflect on the headlines
In Part B, students see the actual headlines from Part A and are asked to reflect on the experience of completing the quiz.  They are provided with information on generalisations and the portrayal of groups in the media.  Students are asked to choose one of the headlines and using it as stimulus, create an introduction to a news story.

Concluding Activity — Offline

Discuss the following questions with your students:

Activity 2: Strong Words

Students analyse a news article about youth and graffiti to explore how inference, opinion and emotive language is used to position the reader.  They rewrite the story to position the reader differently.

Introductory Activity — Offline

Ask students to think about some of the ways the media presents youth and young people, by brainstorming some fictional headlines that portray teenage behavior, for example, Lazy Teenagers Failing at School.

Online Activity

Part A: Read the article
In this part of the activity, students are instructed to carefully read an article in preparation for a short quiz they will take about the content.

To read the full article, click here

Part B: Take the quiz
Students are asked to take a quiz based on the information in the article.  The quiz asks students to separate the facts from the implied information in the article.  They must indicate if the statements provided are factual.  If their answer is incorrect, a brief explanation is given.

Part C: Your turn
Students are asked to consider how the journalist could have used the same factual information but positioned the reader differently.  They are given three alternative headlines (or they can make up their own headline) and use inference, opinion and emotive language to rewrite the story to reflect the new headline.

Concluding Activity — Offline

Discuss the following questions:

Activity 3: Muslims in the Media

In this activity students explore the stereotypes and misconceptions about Muslims and Islam that are sometimes perpetuated by the media.

Introductory Activity — Offline

If your class does not have a large number of Muslim students, ask students to contribute one piece of information they know about Islam or Muslims.  After each contribution, ask them where they think they gathered the piece of information.  If they name another person, ask them where that person might have got their information.  Discuss the importance of the media in providing information.

Online Activity

Part A: What do you know about Muslims and Islam?
Students are asked to watch a video where a Muslim Imam discusses how he thinks the media portrays Islam and Muslims.  They are also provided with some research findings about this issue.

Part B: Portrayals of Islam and Muslims in the media
Students read six introductory excerpts from newspaper articles and are asked to think about what stereotypes are reinforced or challenged by each article.

Concluding Activity — Offline

Discuss the following questions with your students:

  1. What role do you think the news media plays in developing perceptions about Muslims in Australia?
  2. How are Muslims portrayed in other forms of media, such as TV, film and advertising?
  3. What are some positive contributions that the media has made to increase understanding and education about Muslims and Islam?
  4. What could be done to further raise awareness about and improve the perception of Islam and Muslims in Australia?
  5. How are other religious groups in Australia portrayed by the media?

Activity 4: Differing Community Opinions

In this activity students consider their standpoint and how their own sociocultural perspectives influence the way they read texts.  They do this by exploring an article from three different standpoints.

Introductory Activity — Offline

Discuss the following quote from Marcus Aurelius, a Roman Emperor from 161 to 180 CE, with your students:

Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.

Online Activity

Part A: Different opinions
Students read an article about a protest against a proposed Muslim school and consider the story's newsworthiness and fairness.  Students are asked to imagine they are looking at this story from the different standpoints of: a Muslim living in the area, a local protester and the Mayor.

To read the full story, click here

Concluding Activity — Offline

Ask students to reflect on the process of viewing the article from differing perspectives by answering the questions:

Module Reflection

You may like to use a reflection or self-assessment strategy to monitor student engagement with this module.

Further Activity Ideas