Teacher Guides: Can You Trust the News?

How to Teach Students to Recognize Good Journalism

Welcome, teachers!

Journalism students at Northeastern University review a news story on NewsTrust. Teachers: Dan Kennedy, Mike LaBonte
Journalism students at Northeastern University review a news story on NewsTrust. Teachers: Dan Kennedy, Mike LaBonte

Today's students are coming of age during unprecedented changes in how we consume news and information. They have access to worlds of knowledge other generations could hardly have imagined. In order to effectively use this knowledge and make well-informed decisions as citizens, they must first learn to be discerning about the information they consume. As educators, it's our responsibility to nurture critical thinking skills and a healthy skepticism to help them reach that goal – along with an appreciation for quality journalism.

To that end, NewsTrust has created a set of teacher guides that will help you teach your students the difference between good and bad journalism. These guides include interactive lesson plans for college and high school classes in journalism, civics, social studies, communications and more. Our guides also provide topics for discussion and ideas for additional activities.

Each lesson takes about 45 minutes. During that time, we invite you and your students to read a work of journalism (news or opinion) and evaluate it for journalistic quality using NewsTrust review tools. Students will be asked to rate that story on a variety of criteria, such as: facts, fairness and sourcing (news); insights, information and style (opinion).

For your convenience, we have prepared two sets of teacher guides:

  • Printed Guides – if your classroom doesn't have Internet access, you can print out these guides and hand them out to your students.
  • Internet Guides – if your classroom has computers with Internet access, we recommend using these guides and having students review stories online.

Printed Guides:

  • News Report (no Internet) (PDF) – This guide will help you teach students how to identify journalistic flaws in a news report. It contains notes for the teacher, and student print-outs including a sample news article, the NewsTrust Review Form and review tips. This guide is designed for classrooms without Internet access. Download it here.
  • Opinion (no Internet) (PDF) – This guide will help you teach students how to identify misinformation in an opinion piece. It contains notes for the teacher, and student print-outs including a sample opinion piece, the NewsTrust Review Form and review tips. This guide is designed for classrooms without Internet access. Download it here.

Internet Guides:

  • News (Internet) – This guide will help you teach students to identify journalistic flaws in news reports. It contains notes for the teacher, along with links to a student guide with a sample news report and quick review tips. This guide is designed for classrooms with Internet access and at least one computer for every two students. It also requires that students sign up for a NewsTrust account before participating in the exercise. View it here.
  • Opinion (Internet) – This guide will help you teach students to identify misinformation in opinion pieces. It contains notes for the teacher, along with links to a student guide with a sample opinion and quick review tips. This guide is designed for classrooms with Internet access and at least one computer for every two students. It also requires that students sign up for a NewsTrust account before participating in the exercise. View it here.

Additional Resources:

  • More Stories – This page lists more sample news reports and opinions which you may substitute for the sample stories in the guides above, or use in follow-up assignments. View it here.
  • More Activities – This page offers opportunities for students to take what they've learned by reviewing stories on NewsTrust and apply that knowledge in other fields. It contains ideas for teaching how the principles of journalism relate to civics/government, computer literacy, English/language arts, communications/public speaking and the broader context of journalism. View it here.
  • Educational Resources – This page offers an extensive list of educational resources, with more information and ideas about teaching news literacy and core principles of journalism. View it here.

Before your class, we invite you to sign up as a NewsTrust member and review a story on our site, using this special welcome page for teachers.

These teacher and student guides were written by Fabrice Florin and Kristin Gorski, a NewsTrust editor and former English and history teacher – with the help of Derek Hawkins, Kaizar Campwala, David Fox and other NewsTrust team members.

Our teacher and student guides support NewsTrust's news literacy mission, along with these consumer guides: Think Like a Journalist, by Iowa State University professor Michael Bugeja, and Crap Detection 101, by Stanford professor Howard Rheingold.

If you have any questions or comments, or would like to share your feedback about our teacher guides, please contact us at .

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