The Press and the Presidency

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1 Unit Overview We believe that your visit to the Newseum, along with this unit of study on the evolution of the relationship between the press and the president, will help engage you and your students in the world of political image-shaping and informed media consumption. Our guiding question in this unit How does a free press affect society? engenders a number of additional questions that will be good to keep in mind as you take advantage of your Newseum visit: What role does the media play in shaping the president s image? How do presidents get their messages out? How often do we think about the influence of a free press on political events and movements? What might have happened in our history and today if no free press existed? How does a free press enable democracy to flourish? How has the relationship between the press and the president changed over time? How will it change in the future? Can citizens find the information they need about politics and the presidency in today s media environment? We appreciate your willingness to share with your students the benefits of viewing, hearing, reading and touching the elements of the press through which the Newseum brings history and politics to life.

2 National Standards of Learning Center for Civic Education, National Standards for Civics and Government Grades 5-8: Content: Distributing, sharing, and limiting powers of the national government. Students should be able to explain how the powers of the national government are distributed, shared and limited. Standard III.A.1. Political communication. Students should be able to evaluate, take, and defend positions on the influence of the media on American political life. III.F.2. Political parties, campaigns, and elections. Students should be able to explain how political parties, campaigns, and elections provide opportunities for citizens to participate in the political process. III.F.3. Political rights. Students should be able to evaluate, take, and defend positions on issues involving political rights. V.B.2. Forms of political participation. Students should be able to describe the means by which Americans can monitor and influence politics and government. V.E.3.

3 Center for Civic Education, National Standards for Civics and Government Grades 9-12: Content: Distributing governmental power and preventing its abuse. Students should be able to explain how the United States Constitution grants and distributes power to national and state government and how it seeks to prevent the abuse of power. The institutions of the national government. Students should be able to evaluate, take, and defend positions on issues regarding the purposes, organization, and functions of the institutions of the national government. Standard III.A.1. III.B.1. Public opinion and behavior of the electorate. Students should be able to evaluate, take and defend positions about the role of public opinion in American politics. Political communication: television, radio, the press, and political persuasion. Students should be able to evaluate, take, and defend positions on the influence of the media on American political life. Political parties, campaigns, and elections. Students should be able to evaluate, take, and defend positions about the roles of political parties, campaigns, and elections in American politics. Political rights. Students should be able to evaluate, take, and defend positions on issues regarding political rights. III.E.2. III.E.2. III.E.4. V.B.2. Civic responsibilities. Students should be able to evaluate, take, and defend positions on issues regarding civic responsibilities of citizens in American constitutional democracy. V.C.2.

4 National Council for the Social Studies, Curriculum Standards for Social Studies Middle Grades: Content: Standard b. identify and use key concepts such as chronology, causality, change, conflict, and complexity to explain, analyze, and show connections among patterns of historical change and continuity; e. develop critical sensitivities such as empathy and skepticism regarding attitudes, values, and behaviors of people in different historical contexts (II) Time, Continuity, & Change b. describe the purpose of government and how its powers are acquired, used, and justified; e. identify and describe the basic features of the political system in the United States, and identify representative leaders from various levels and branches of government (VI) Power, Authority & Governance b. identify and interpret sources and examples of the rights and responsibilities of citizens (X) Civic Ideals & Practices National Council for the Social Studies, Curriculum Standards for Social Studies High School: Content: Standard b. apply key concepts such as time, chronology, causality, change, conflict, and complexity to explain, analyze, and show connections among patterns of historical change and continuity (II) Time, Continuity, & Change b. explain the purpose of the government and analyze how its powers are acquired, used and justified (VI) Power, Authority & Governance b. Identify, analyze, interpret, and evaluate sources and examples of citizens rights and responsibilities (X) Civic Ideals & Practices

5 Pre-Visit Activities Dear Educator, We are looking forward to welcoming you and your class to the Newseum for The Press and the Presidency program. Enclosed are two quick activities to help your students prepare for their visit: Decoding an Editorial Cartoon Friend or Foe? Reading Between the Lines These activities will introduce your students to the idea of presidential image and raise two overarching questions we will explore together in more depth during the visit: What factors shape the president s image? And how should we view the media s depictions of our leaders? We hope these activities help you and your students get excited about your upcoming field trip. We ll see you soon! Newseum Education Staff

6 Name Date Decoding an Editorial Cartoon Find an editorial cartoon in print or online that depicts the president, then answer these question on your own paper: 1. Who and what are in the cartoon? List what you see people, things, places, etc. 2. What is happening in the cartoon? 3. Physical features are often exaggerated in political cartoons. Which of the president s features are exaggerated, if any? What about the other people in the cartoon? What effect do these exaggerations have? 4. Are there any symbols in the cartoon? Describe them and what you think they mean. 5. What event or issue does this cartoon comment on? 6. What does the cartoonist think about this event or issue? How do you know? 7. Do you agree or disagree with the cartoonist s opinion? Why?

7 Friend or Foe? Reading Between the Lines Take a look at how the president is portrayed in different types of media. Choose a news story involving the president. Now find five different examples of news coverage of this story. Think about using both traditional media outlets (such as a newspaper or a national nightly TV news show) and more cutting edge outlets (such as a blog or a satire news show). You could also use weekly newsmagazines, weekly radio or TV news shows, online news sites, local news programs, etc. Use the tracking chart on the next page to compare how different media report the same story. For each one, decide if you think the president is shown in a positive, negative or neutral light. Positive coverage highlights the positive things the reasons why people should like the president and/or agree with the president s message Negative coverage highlights the negative things the reasons why people shouldn t like the president and/or agree with the president s message Neutral coverage neither supports nor detracts simply presents information and asks questions

8 Name Date Friend or Foe? Reading Between the Lines Your presidential news story: Example Media Outlet Name: The Daily Show With Jon Stewart What is the primary audience for this media outlet? teens, young adults Describe this coverage of your news story: Jon Stewart talks about the president s plan to conserve energy and makes fun of the people who don t like the plan by calling them energy hogs and showing a picture of an ugly pig This coverage is: POSITIVE NEGATIVE NEUTRAL Why? It makes the opponents of the plan look bad, which makes the president look good by comparison Media Outlet 1 Name: What is the primary audience for this media outlet? Describe this coverage of your news story: This coverage is: POSITIVE NEGATIVE NEUTRAL Why? Media Outlet 2 Name: What is the primary audience for this media outlet? Describe this coverage of your news story: This coverage is: POSITIVE NEGATIVE NEUTRAL Why?

9 Name Date Media Outlet 3 Name: What is the primary audience for this media outlet? Describe this coverage of your news story: This coverage is: POSITIVE NEGATIVE NEUTRAL Why? Media Outlet 4 Name: What is the primary audience for this media outlet? Describe this coverage of your news story: This coverage is: POSITIVE NEGATIVE NEUTRAL Why? Media Outlet 5 Name: What is the primary audience for this media outlet? Describe this coverage of your news story: This coverage is: POSITIVE NEGATIVE NEUTRAL Why?

10 Post-Visit Activities We hope you enjoyed your recent visit to the Newseum. Your students are now prepared to look at the media coverage of the president and other political leaders with a more critical eye and awareness of the image-shaping process. Enclosed are two activities that can help extend the experience and allow you to apply concepts that were presented in The Press and the Presidency lesson in your own classroom: Here s What We Think: Editorials and Opinion Articles It s All About Image We hope these activities help you and your students make the most of your Newseum experience and become more informed about the relationship between politicians and the media. Newseum Education Staff

11 Name Date Here s What We Think: Editorials and Opinion Articles Most newspapers have a daily editorial and opinion section. These articles express opinions and ideas. They do not necessarily report news; rather, they comment on current events. Editorials are written by a member or members of the editorial staff of a newspaper and express the opinion or idea of the newspaper as a whole. Opinion articles, sometimes called op-eds because of their traditional position opposite the newspaper s editorial page, express the opinion or idea of only the person or people writing the article. Read three editorials or opinion articles about the president. Try reading editorials and opinion articles from your local newspaper as well as online newspaper sites. You can choose newspapers from around the country or even around the world. On your own paper, answer the questions below for each op-ed or editorial: 1. Who do you think is the intended audience for this op-ed or editorial? Who is likely to read this? 2. Does this op-ed or editorial provide factual information? If so, what information? How do you know it s true? What evidence or sources does the author provide? 3. Why do you think this op-ed or editorial was written? Is the author advocating for a specific course of action or for a general perspective? 4. Is the author supporting the president s actions? How do you know? 5. Is this information important for people to know? If so, why? If not, why not? 6. Do you agree with what this editorial or opinion article argues for? Why or why not?

12 Name Date It s All About Image Politicians and elected officials work hard to convey certain ideas about themselves when they campaign and are in office. Officials and candidates are concerned about how the public sees them and what the public believes about them. Pick either the president or another current politician and find 10 photos or images of that person. These can be from a range of sources your local newspaper, news Web sites, blogs, video sites, the person s Web site and more. Look for editorial cartoons as well as photographs or video. Assemble all of the images, along with the captions or headlines that go with them, and answer the questions below for each image. (Your answers can be short; attach each photo you find to a sheet of paper with the answers for that image.) 1. In this image, where is the politician? 2. What is the politician doing? 3. What is the politician wearing? 4. Whom is the politician with? 5. Who took this photo/created the image? 6. When was this photo taken/image created? 7. How was this image distributed? Where did it appear? After answering the above questions for all 10 images, respond to these questions: 1. What descriptive words come to mind when looking at all of these images together? 2. Do the images provide a positive or negative impression of the politician overall? Why? 3. Describe the image these photographs shape for this politician. Who is this person? (For example: What do they believe? How do they act? Whom do they associate with? etc.) 4. Do you think this is the image this politician would want you to have of her/him? Why or why not?

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