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Images in the Media

Source: Pike, G. and Selby, D. (2000). In the Global Classroom 2. Toronto: Pippin Publishing.

Time: 90 minutes

Students will explore stereotypical and negative images in the media through practicing media deconstruction.

• A range of print media containing photographs and illustrations (e.g. a newspaper, science and history textbooks, a magazine intended for children or teens, a newsmagazine, an alternative community newspaper, a children’s illustrated storybook)
• A copy of the ‘Images in the Media’ handout for each pair of students

Teaching/Learning Strategies
Students choose partners, and the teacher distributes an ‘Images in the Media’ handout to each pair. Clarify terms with which students may be unfamiliar (e.g. professional vs. nonprofessional, passive roles, domestic roles). Pairs analyze their chosen type of medium, using the categories laud out in the form and an additional two they decide on themselves. Pairs then prepare a contribution to a class Images in the Media exhibition, presenting their analysis in an attractive, eye-catching way. The class tours the exhibition, and discussion follows.

Post Activity
This activity explores stereotyping and negative images in the media and provides preliminary practice in the techniques of media deconstruction. The discussion should cover issues raised by contributions to the exhibition as well as significant high and low scores on the handouts. What images of men and women did the media tend to convey? What images of different racial groups? Were the images accurate or stereotypical? Do certain media seem more biased than other? Why might that be? What are the effects of negative or stereotypical depictions of groups and people? Introduce the idea that stereotypes can be built by commission (i.e. depicting people in a certain way) and by omission (i.e. failing to depict them in certain ways).

Option 1. The class can follow up discussion by writing letters to the editors of media found to be particularly biased.
Option 2. Small groups prepare sample pages of a new newspaper in which women, different ethnic groups, and people opting for alternative lifestyles are given equal prominence or are positively and sensitively depicted. Students choose the newspaper title, the style, the topics, the photographs and illustrations. The pages produced are displayed in an Alternative News bulletin board and are discussed in a whole-class session.
This extension gives students an opportunity to celebrate difference and diversity. In class discussion the question should be put as to why most newspapers are so very different from those created by the students. It is important to acknowledge that the students’ alternative newspapers also contain a bias - toward principles of fairness, equal treatment, and multiculturalism.

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