Lesson Plan: Press Censorship

The 3rd May is “World Press Freedom Day” so why not take the opportunity to discuss this important issue with our students? A great film we can use to bring about this topic is “All the president’s men”. Here you will see the trailer of the movie.

You may decide to watch the whole film with your students or concentrate on the scene in which Carl Berstein confronts the public relations executive and secures information about Mr. Dahlberg (at about one hour into the film). Before watching the film, you can discuss the meaning of free press and explain to them that they are going to watch a scene from a film about the of role the press. Students will need to have information about the Watergate case. If you find it necessary, provide them with some background information (e.g from Wikipedia)

Divide them into 4 groups and ask each group to view the film from one of the following perspectives: the investigative reporters, the editors, the people being investigated, and US Citizens. They should collect information for a debate about:

1) The techniques used by investigative reporters. What type of questions do they ask? What ethical standards do they follow?

2) What risks are involved in running a controversial story such as this? What ethical standards do editors follow?

3) How people being investigated respond to the press? How are they feeling? Are they honest?

After watching the film, give them some time in groups to organise their ideas for the debate. Then, make a whole class debate. To sum up the discussion, you might pose the following questions: What values seem to conflict with freedom of press? What can we do to ensure free press? What limits, if any, do you think we as a society should place on the press?

If you don’t have acces to a VCR or DVD player and you still want to deal with this topic, there are several lesson plans on the net. The ones I liked the most are the following two:

1) An article on press censorship in the bbc learning englich central website.

2) An article or listening activity at Breaking News English ESL Lesson Plans.

Hope you find it useful. If you have any other idea, don’t hesitate to leave a comment.

Posted on April 30, 2008, in Lesson Plans, Resources for tesl/tefl and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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