Lesson 1 – Journalism & Democracy (all levels)

What is journalism and why does it matter? Democracy requires journalism, which informs the public and holds those with power to account. Journalism’s first obligation is to the truth, and its core is verification. When looking for credible information, you need to know what qualities make a report journalistic.

 

LINKS & DOWNLOADS

All lesson documents (Word) (PDF) (Google Doc)

Slide Deck 1  (PPT)

Activity 1.1 Fact Vs. Opinion (Word) (PDF)

Activity 1.2 Analyzing Journalism (Word) (PDF)

Overview

As citizens living in a democracy, we have a responsibility to stay informed about the issues that matter to us, and to society. This is true all the time, but especially during elections, when we must make a meaningful choice at the ballot box.

Journalists play a critical role in our democracy. They hold government and other sources of power to account, help inform citizens, foster debate about important issues and give people a voice.

During an election, journalists provide news and perspectives to inform citizens about the parties, candidates and issues, fact-check the statements of leaders and candidates, and place the campaign’s events in context. Without journalists, citizens would miss an invaluable resource to help them decide when politicians are telling the truth or acting in the public’s best interests.

Informed citizenship involves seeking out news and information from a variety of sources, comparing perspectives and keeping up with new developments. This takes effort and strategies, particularly when there is so much information available online.

Many of us now increasingly find our news or information via platforms like Facebook and Twitter, based on what has been shared by family, friends or groups/organizations that we follow. On social media, news and information is often pulled from multiple sources, including from both professional news organizations and individual citizens or bloggers.

For their part, citizens must navigate an abundance of content and increasingly assess the reliability of news and information found online. An essential first step in evaluating any information is to assess its aims by asking: who produced this and why?