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Habits of Mind Unit 2




Test questions & PDF



This section introduces framing, agenda setting and news values.  It invites students to think critically about whether and why a story merits attention, and then how to frame the story so that it’s fair and accurate, useful and interesting.     


1.  News values (Exercise WH2-2 in Interactive Workbook is a corresponding assignment.)


Ask students to look at a story such as the ones below and then identify which of the news values they see, and where they see them in the story.


a.’s story about two cases involving teachers going to the Louisiana Supreme Court


b.’s story about a blood drive hosted by Portland firefighters


c.’s story about a high school student killed in a single-vehicle accident


d.  KTLA-TV’s story on the shooting instructor killed by a young girl


2.  Framing, conflict narrative and agenda setting (WH2-3 in Interactive Workbook uses this example to focus on agenda setting.  Also, this piece can also be used in discussions about anonymous sources.)


Watch this ESPN story about football player Michael Sam.  Read this Poynter Institute post about the story.


a.  Ask students to identify where the Poynter piece talks about lessons they’ve just been introduced to:


  • framing

  • agenda setting

  • conflict as a news value


b.  Ask students to apply the ethical principles introduced in Chapter 2 to the ESPN story, keeping in mind the Poynter piece. 


Here’s a Twitter conversation about the story.  Here is a post about ESPN’s apology statement.  Sports Illustrated posted its take on the ESPN story.


3.  Framing and news values


Pull up the homepage of a local news organization’s website.  After students identify frames, ask them to make connections, if any, among the frames and the news values.


a.  Ask students to list all of the visual framing cues they can identify, such as:


  • headlines, subheads and pull-quotes

  • photos and cutlines

  • fonts and colors

  • physical limitations of the screen

  • story length and prominence

  • placement of page elements

  • ad placement and content


b.  Select one of the stories on the page, and ask students to read it for the following frames:


  • information included in the lead

  • information included in the second paragraph

  • information lowest in the story

  • human sources included in the story


c.  Ask students to review the various frames they’ve identified above.  Then ask them to articulate whether these frames have served to legitimize or delegitimize a person, place or issue.  What are the implications?  (We’ve also done this exercise over the course of the term to look at how the local newspaper frames our college and its students.)


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