World Press Freedom Day
||49 Practical Activities and Methods for Human
Rights Education > Front page
To spread the news is to multiply it.
|| Media, Globalisation,
||10 - 24
||This is a simulation of a group of journalists working to
get the front page of their paper ready to go to press. People
work in small groups as they explore issues about:
- Bias, stereotyping and objectivity in the media.
- Images and the role of media in addressing human rights
- The right to freedom of thought, opinion and expression
- The right to privacy
- The rights to development, life and health
- To stimulate interest in human rights issues through
working with images
- To reflect on the media and their approach to human
- To develop the skills to communicate and co-operate
- A large room with enough space for two or three small
working groups and plenary.
- 40 photographs from newspapers
- Paper and pens for making notes
- Large sheets of paper (A3) size or flipchart paper
- Scissors and glue for each small group
- Tables with a working surface large enough for the
working groups to spread all their papers out
- Select forty to forty-five pictures from a magazine
or national newspapers. Note: you need copies of the same
40 pictures for each small working group. You will therefore
either have to buy several copies of each newspaper from
which you select photographs, or have access to a photocopier.
- Display one set of photographs on a table
- Introduce the activity. Explain that this is a simulation
of an evening in a newspaper office where a group of journalists
are working on the front page of their paper. Although these
are local papers serving the community, each has a policy to
keep its readership informed about current global issues, including
- Divide the participants into small working groups of eight
people. Each group is to imagine that it is an editorial group
working on a different newspaper. Their task is to design and
layout the front page of tomorrow morning's edition.
- Ask each group to choose a name for their newspaper.
- In plenary, briefly discuss the features and layout of a
typical front page.
- Show people the display of photographs. Ask them to walk
around the table in silence and not to make any comments at
this stage. Explain that these are the images that they have
to work with; they may use them and interpret them as they wish.
- Now set the editorial teams to work. Hand out the paper and
pencils, glue and scissors to each group - but not the photographs
- 7. Go over the instructions. They have one hour to select
four or five news stories that they wish to present, to write
the headlines, choose the photos and design the layout. Explain
that they do not have to write long articles: the headlines
and bi-lines are really sufficient. They should focus on the
impact the front page makes, rather than actually telling the
full stories. Suggest they start by discussing the themes or
issues they want to include in their reports. Tell them that
after ten minutes they will receive the photographs from the
- When the groups have been working for about ten minutes,
make the sets of newspaper photographs available to them.
- When the teams have completed their front pages, they should
lay them out for everyone to read. Then go on to the debriefing
Debriefing and evaluation
Start with a review of the activity itself and then go on to
discuss the media, human rights issues and commitment.
- How did the groups organise the work? How did they make decisions
about how to do the work and about which stories to cover? Did
everyone feel they could participate and contribute?
- How did people choose the themes or issues to work with?
Which came first, the issue or the picture? That is, did they
first identify an issue and then find a suitable picture to
illustrate it or were they inspired by a certain picture and
then create a story around it?
- What themes or issues were presented? Did any relate to human
rights issues? Were there issues that anyone would have liked
to have used, but which they had to drop?
- How do the different front pages of the different papers
compare? Have the same themes or photographs been used?
- Have different groups used the same image, but in different
- How do people follow the news? In newspapers, on the television,
radio or the Internet? Why do - or don't - they follow the news?
- In this simulation did they try to imitate a real front page?
Or did they want to do it differently? What were the differences?
- What sort of news dominates the media in real life?
- Is there generally good coverage of human rights issues in
- One of the major points of discussion regarding the media
is its "objectivity". Do participants think it is
possible to present news objectively?
- Which human rights themes were included in their front pages?
- What image do participants have of young people in other
parts of the world?
- Are there important themes missing from the set of pictures?
Tips for facilitators
When choosing the pictures to use in this activity, make sure
that you have a good variety of images and that you avoid stereotypes.
The news are often full of murders, wars and other disasters and
more rarely contains positive messages. (There is more that happens
in Africa than war and famine!) Let the pictures you select give
the participants an opportunity to pick images of "good"
news as well as the "bad" news. There should be a good
geographical spread, gender balance, images of young people, and
things relevant to the everyday lives of young people, including
positive images of how they can make a difference. Include images
relating to hot news events and personalities, as well as images
relating to issues of living in a multicultural society and a
global world. The following list will give you some ideas. (It
is based on the list of images used in the activity, "The
news factory", described below under "variations".)
TV news presenter- woman
Camera team in the Third
Women making dam
Advertising a hamburger
Children playing in water
Washing a car
Plume of industrial smoke
Advertisement for alcohol
Advertisement: for Coca
Seller on the beach
Market place in Asia
Slums in Brussels
Sorting out cans
Black boy with guitar
Children in asylum centre
Action by Amnesty International
Demonstration in the Philippines
UN troops in Yugoslavia
Two dead soldiers
Piled up grain bags
Crowd of people
Young man with microphone
When introducing the activity and discussing the features and
layout of a typical front page you should draw the participants'
attention to the way the headlines are written to be attention-grabbing
and the way the stories are then presented; first there is usually
a short summary of a couple of column centimetres and then the
finer text with the fuller story. Discuss how pictures are used
to support the story or to capture the reader's attention. Point
out also what the pictures don't show! Talk about how they have
been cropped to draw the viewers' eye to what the photographer
- or the picture editor - wants to show. Also point out the way
in which captions are written.
An alternative way of presenting this activity is to present
a radio or television news programme. If you choose to work on
a television broadcast it is highly recommended that you use slides
(dia-positives) in a blacked-out room to give the "feel"
of watching the television. There is a set of slides which have
been specially prepared for such an activity, available for loan
from EFIL, the European Federation for Intercultural Learning.
Suggestions for follow-up
Discuss aspects of the rights
selected by the groups for their news. For example, how are they
addressed in your country?
Participants could contact a local newspaper or radio or television
station and talk to journalists about how they work and discuss
issues of objectivity and the way global and human rights issues
are presented in the media.
If the group enjoy activities that involve quick thinking, they
could do "Just a minute", which
is about the relationship between sport and human rights.
Alternatively, if the group would like to relax and listen
to music and at the same time whet their curiosity about other
peoples, cultures, music and language then look up "Knysna
blue" in the all different all equal education pack .
Ideas for action
Many local radio stations have opportunities for community groups
to make their own broadcasts. Work on a group project to research
and produce a radio broadcast about issues of concern to them,
for example, under the headline: "think globally, act locally".
Some starting points for reflection about the themes addressed
in the activity:
- Young people, as well as adults, are continually swamped
with a mass of information through all the different media.
We can ask ourselves: what do we do with this information? Does
it mean that we are all better informed?
- The media are becoming more and more commercialised and the
simplification of the message, stereotyping and sensationalism
are alarming developments. It is becoming increasingly difficult
to find quality news.
- Finding quality news is especially true in relation to news
about inequality issues, particularly where developing countries
are concerned. Non-western news is often seen only through western
eyes. This very often results in negative and dismal news.
b) Human rights issues
The media are obviously important for raising the public's awareness
about human rights. But we should be aware of how the issues are
presented and the motives. Everyone needs to be critical of what
is - and is not - given to us, and the way information and facts
are presented. For example, in a war, fighters may be described
either as freedom fighters or as terrorists in different papers
depending on different political viewpoints. People of other cultures
may be presented in non-objective ways. For example, the Inuit
may be presented as being exotic, hardy people fighting to preserve
their traditional way of living in igloos, but when it comes to
a discussion about whaling, then they are described as "murderers".
Some of the images used in the simulation should picture opportunities
for people, especially young people, to commit themselves in very
practical ways. As teachers, youth workers, etc., we wish to motivate
young people to work for a better world. We ask ourselves how
best to encourage young people to become engaged, and may question
whether or not the existing opportunities are in fact attractive
to young people. We may get some indication to the answers from
the slides which the young people choose.