Media Studies

Media Studies

Freedom of Speech:  The First Amendment
Lesson taken from resources provided by the Newseum in Washington, D.C. 

first amendmentThe First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech, a free press, freedom of religion, the right to assembly and the right to petition. Actor Martin Sheen narrates this story of the political struggles involved in establishing the First Amendment and the challenges it faced in the decades that followed.

45 Words: The First Amendment

Case Study:  Tinker vs. Des Moines
You Can’t Say That in School, Can You?  

At a public school in Des Moines, Iowa, students organized a silent protest against the Vietnam War. Students planned to wear black armbands to school to protest the fighting but the principal found out and told the students they would be suspended if they wore the armbands. Despite the warning, students wore the armbands and were suspended. During their suspension the students’ parents sued the school for violating their children’s right to free speech. A U.S. district court sided with the school, ruling that wearing armbands could disrupt learning. The students appealed the ruling to a U.S. Court of Appeals but lost and took their case to the United States Supreme Court.tinker vs des moines

Decision: In 1969 the United States Supreme Court ruled in a 7-2 decision in favor of the students. The high court agreed that students’ free rights should be protected and said, “Students don’t shed their constitutional rights at the school house gates.”

Tinker vs. Des Moines

Pictures Worth a Thousand Words:
Pulitzer Prize Winning Photographs

iwo jima
Photo Gallery
Washington, D.C.

This gallery at the Newsuem in Washington D.C. features the most comprehensive collection of Pulitzer Prize-winning photographs ever assembled as well as interviews with many of the photographers.

Some of the photographs have become icons of their time: Marines raising Old Glory on Iwo Jima, the joyful reunion of a returning prisoner of war and his family, a firefighter cradling an injured infant after the Oklahoma City bombing. Those and other images record the defining moments of our world and time.


lost child kiss of life saving a life

Pulitzer Prize Winning Photographs at the Newseum



Look up one of the photographs featured in the photo gallery at the Newseum and tell what the image is, who took it, why it is memorable.


  1. Check out these photographs The Most Powerful Photos to Caputure the Human Experience and write a persuasive paragraph selecting one for the Pulitzer Prize comparing attributes of your chosen photograph with one at the Newseum.
  2. Take your own photographs and develop a showcase (either digitally or artistically) and write an application to the Pulitzer Prize selection committee nominating one of your photographs.  Explain why your image displays the human condition.

Bias in the Media 

Most news organizations strive for clarity, fairness and accuracy, yet the public often gives the media low marks for credibility. Veteran journalists Chris Wallace, Dan Rather, Brian Williams, Brit Hume and Juan Williams share insights into the causes of media bias and how journalists and news consumers can work to restore objectivity.

Types of Media Bias

Bias by omission – leaving one side out of an article, or a series of articles over a period of time; ignoring facts that tend to disprove liberal or conservative claims, or that support liberal or conservative beliefs; bias by omission can occur either within a story, or over the long term as a particular news outlet reports one set of events, but not another.  To find instances of bias by omission, be aware of the conservative and liberal perspectives on current issues.  See if both the conservative and liberal perspectives are included in stories on a particular event or policy.


  • Bias by selection of sources – including more sources that support one view over another.  This bias can also be seen when a reporter uses such phrases as “experts believe”, “observers say,” or “most people believe”.  Experts in news stories are like expert witnesses in trials.  If you know whether the defense or the prosecution called a particular expert witness to the stand, you know which way the witness will testify.  And when a news story only presents one side, it is obviously the side the reporter supports.  (Journalists often go looking for quotes to fit their favorite argument into a news story.)  To find bias by use of experts or sources, stay alert to the affiliations and political perspective of those quoted as experts or authorities in news stories.  Not all stories will include experts, but in those that do, make sure about an equal number of conservatives and liberals are quoted.  If a story quotes non-experts, such as those portrayed as average citizens, check to be sure that about an equal number come from both sides of the issue in question.
  • Bias by story selection – a pattern of highlighting news stories that coincide with the agenda of either the Left or the Right, while ignoring stories that coincide with the opposing view; printing a story or study released by a liberal or conservative group but ignoring studies on the same or similar topics released by the opposing group.  To identify bias by story selection you’ll need to know the conservative and liberal sides of the issue.  See how much coverage conservative issues get compared to issues on the liberal agenda, or liberals compared to conservatives.  For example, if a liberal group puts out a study proving a liberal point, look at how much coverage it got compared to a conservative study issued a few days or weeks earlier, or vice versa.  If charges of impropriety are leveled at two politicians of approximately equal power, one liberal and one conservative, compare the amount of coverage given to each.
  • Bias by placement – Story placement is a measure of how important the editor considers the story.  Studies have shown that, in the case of the average newspaper reader and the average news story, most people read only the headline.  Bias by placement is where in the paper or in an article a story or event is printed; a pattern of placing news stories so as to downplay information supportive of either conservative views or liberal views.  To locate examples of bias by placement, observe where a newspaper places political stories.  Or whenever you read a story, see how far into the story each viewpoint first appears.  In a fair and balanced story, the reporter would quote or summarize the liberal and conservative view at about the same place in the story.  If not, you’ve found bias by placement.
  • Bias by labeling – Bias by labeling comes in two forms.  The first is the tagging of conservative politicians and groups with extreme labels while leaving liberal politicians and groups unlabeled or with more mild labels, or vice versa.  The second kind of bias by labeling occurs when a reporter not only fails to identify a liberal as a liberal or a conservative as a conservative, but describes the person or group with positive labels, such as “an expert” or “independent consumer group”.  In so doing, the reporter imparts an air of authority that the source does not deserve.  If the “expert” is properly called a “conservative” or a “liberal” the news consumer can take that ideological slant into account when evaluating the accuracy of an assertion.  When looking for bias by labeling, remember that not all labeling is biased or wrong.  Bias by labeling is present when the story labels the conservative but not the liberal, or the liberal but not the conservative; when the story uses more extreme sounding labels for the conservative than the liberal (“ultra-conservative”, “far right”, but just “liberal” instead of “far left” and “ultra-liberal”) or for the liberal than the conservative (“ultra-liberal”, “far left”, but just “conservative” instead of “far right” and ”ultra-conservative ; and when the story misleadingly identifies a liberal or conservative official or group as an expert or independent watchdog organization.
  • Bias by spin – Bias by spin occurs when the story has only one interpretation of an event or policy, to the exclusion of the other; spin involves tone – it’s a reporter’s subjective comments about objective facts; makes one side’s ideological perspective look better than another.  To check if it’s spin, observe which interpretation of an event or policy a news story matches – the liberal or conservative.  Many news stories do not reflect a particular spin.  Others summarize the spin put on an event by both sides.  But if a story reflects one to the exclusion of the other, then you’ve found bias by spin.

The above information is excerpted and adapted from “How to Identify Liberal Media” Biasby Brent H. Baker, Vice President for Research and Publications at

Bias in the Media; Why Objectivity Matters

How Social Media is Transforming Culture

How to Make a Splash in Social Media
In a funny, rapid-fire 4 minutes, Alexis Ohanian of Reddit tells the real-life fable of one humpback whale’s rise to Web stardom. The lesson of Mister Splashy Pants is a shoo-in classic for meme-makers and marketers in the Facebook age.

What is the lesson we learn from Splashy Pants?

Kevin Allocca: Why Videos Go Viral
Kevin Allocca is YouTube’s trends manager, and he has deep thoughts about silly web videos. In the talk from TEDYouth, he shares the three conditions that enable a video to go viral and why that even matters.

  • taste makers
  • communities of participation
  • unexpectedness

Quote by Kevin Allocca:
In a world where over two days of video get uploaded every minute, only that which is truly unique and unexpected can stand out in the way that [viral videos] have.


Clive Thompson on How YouTube Changes the Way We Think

You Tube.jpgHistorians often characterize time periods in epochs. First there was print, then film, now video. Read the following article and explain what Clive Thompson claims are the cultural conditions for a video revolution. How YouTube Changes the Way We Think


The Motivation Paradigm: Why do we participate?

What motivates people to engage in social media? Why spend hours of time creating something for free?  What are we thinking?

It seems only common sense that people should want to get paid for what they do, otherwise what is the point? If money is not a good motivator, then what is and why do we use money if it doesn’t work?

Watch this clever lecture to find out what three things motivate people to work themselves ragged and then explain how social media provides those motivators.


Social Media and the Launch of a Musical Talent 

No, we are not talking about Justin Bieber. Ever heard of Lindsey Stirling? Watch this video of her rise to fame on You Tube and be inspired.


A Brave New World
Don Tapscott takes a farseeing look at our digital, connected, hypercollaborative world. He’s the chair of Moxie Insight and has written 14 books about aspects of this new world, helping readers understand where the world is heading as our civilization fundamentally reshapes itself. In 1995, his book The Digital Economy was among the first to show how the internet would change the way we did business; in 2000, he defined the Net Generation and the “digital divide” in Growing Up Digital.

In his most recent works, he thinks deeply about newly possible collaboration “on an astronomical scale.” As the Industrial Age comes to an end, all our institutions are challenged (state, corporations, schools), he argues–and suggests that we need to reboot and reinvent civilization.


Michael Dell Speaks About The Dangers of Immortality

Don Tapscott can see the future coming … and works t identify the new concepts we need to understand in a world transformed by the Internet.


The Evolution of Animation
For most of the 20th century, Disney was the undisputed king of the animated feature, but the collaboration of John Lasseter’s creative genius and Steve Jobs’ entrepreneurial vision and financial support revolutionized the genre.  Read “Traditional Animation vs Pixar: Which is Better” and weigh in on the debate.

One feature of animation of animation is stop motion amimation.  Stop Motion Animation is the art and craft of taking a series of images and then splicing them together in a series. Think of it as flipping through a picture book. Have you ever taken a series of pages or cards and drew a different image on each one and then flipped through the card rapidly? It creates a moving picture. This is the theory that all movies are made on too! A movie is just a series of pictures that are played so fast that the eye and mind are tricked into believing it is real.  Watch this video and consult this step by step instructional guidesheet “How to Create Stop Motion Animation on iMovie, and then it is your turn!

The Genius of Pixar
The story of Pixar’s early short films illuminates not only the evolution of the company but also the early days of computer animation, when a small group of artists and scientists shared a single computer in a hallway, and struggled to create emotionally compelling short films.  For Pixar, it is more about the story than the graphics.

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