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Alternate Activity 2: Religion and Media Bias
Activity time: 30 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Articles covering an event involving one of the five faiths in this workshop, such as Texas FLDS Raid, One Year Later, 400 Children Taken in Mormon Raid, Mormons Torn Over FLDS Raid, LDS Messenger Retrospective, or articles about other religions, including Unitarian Universalism, in the news. The articles should all be about the same topic so the coverage can be compared and contrasted.
- Plain paper and pens or pencils
- Computer with Internet connection
Preparation for Activity
- Set up and test electronic equipment.
- Gather and read the articles you have selected.
Description of Activity
Participants evaluate the coverage of a religion in the news for possible media bias.
Ask participants what they know about media bias. Define it if they do not do so. Do they believe media are generally biased or unbiased? Do they believe a specific medium they are familiar with demonstrates a specific bias? How can they tell when the media is biased?
Here are some hallmarks of biased media coverage:
- Loaded, subjective, or emotional language and/or images
- Lopsided coverage or offering only one point of view
- Unattributed quotes
- Assumptions that are not verified and are used to draw conclusions
- Presenting opinion as fact
- Inconsistent investigation.
Divide the group into teams and invite each team to read one of the articles. Ask them to look for bias and record the words or images that reveal this bias. Have teams report back to the group about their article and any evidence of bias.