Helping Our Students
Understand Bias & Propaganda
Frank Baker, media educator
Media Literacy Clearinghouse
Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Social Studies
“Best Practices” Workshops
December 6 (elementary)
December 7 (secondary)
Brooklyn Baptist Church Conference Ctr.
Registration: SDE Website
The need for media literacy
"The Jeffersonian ideal of an informed
electorate necessitates media literacy
education. ... With the incredible rise
of the internet and the unedited
nature of many web sites, students
need more than ever to learn how to
assess the validity and credibility of
the information to which they are
Robert Kubey, Rutgers University
Media in the SS Standards
Grade 5 the popularity of new technology
such as automobiles, airplanes, radio, and
Summarize the impact of cultural
developments in the US following WWII,
including the significance of pop culture and
mass media and the population shifts to the
Grade 8
Explain the causes and effects of changes in
SC culture during the 1920s, including
.....the rise of mass media.....
Propaganda: ELA (draft) standards
6-2.9 Recognize propaganda techniques
such as bandwagon and testimonials.
E1-2.4 Evaluate persuasive and propaganda
What is media literacy?
Please spend a few moments thinking
about what this means to you—and
then write your own definition….
Media literacy is concerned with helping
students develop an informed and critical
understanding of the nature of mass media,
the techniques used by them, and the impact
of these techniques. More specifically, it is
education that aims to increase the students'
understanding and enjoyment of how the
media work, how they produce meaning, how
they are organized, and how they construct
reality. Media literacy also aims to provide
students with the ability to create media
Media Literacy Resource Guide, Ministry of Education Ontario, 1997
Key ideas in media literacy
• All media are constructed (representations)
• Media use unique languages
• Media convey values and points-of-view
• Audiences negotiate meanings
• Media interested in power and profit
Source: Center for Media Literacy
All media are constructed
No, this is a PHOTOGRAPH of a horse.
Critical thinking questions
• Who created/paid for the message?
• For what purpose was it made?
• Who is the ‘target audience’?
• What techniques are used to attract my
attention & increase believability ?
Who or what might be omitted and why?
What do they want me to think or do?
How do I know what it means?
Where might I go to get more information?
Questions of images & texts:
• What characters, motifs, symbols, products,
effects, and persuasive devices are used in
this picture?
What values do these elements represent?
What is your interpretation of messages they
are sending?
Who is pictured as a role model? Who is
Who is being targeted as an audience?
What are the creators really selling?
What is propaganda?
What is propaganda?
Propaganda is a specific type of
message presentation directly aimed
at influencing the opinions of people,
rather than impartially providing
What is propaganda?
"Propaganda is the deliberate,
systematic attempt to shape
perceptions, manipulate cognitions
[thoughts], and direct behavior to
achieve a response that furthers the
desired intent of the propagandist."
Source: Propaganda and Persuasion, Garth Jowett/Victoria O'Donnell
What is bias?
What is bias?
"Bias is manifest in texts when authors present
particular values as if they were universal. For
example, bias can be conveyed in the media through
the selection of stories, sequence, and slant in
newscasts; the placement or omission of stories in
newspapers; who is interviewed and left out in radio
or television talk shows and news programs; the
advertisements on webpages, television, magazines,
radio shows targeted at specific audiences; the lyrics
of commercial jingles and popular music, and the
images displayed with them in broadcast
commercials and music videos; the goals,
procedures, and the rules of video games.“
Source: December 2002,
Bias: referenced in ELA standards
5-1.10 Recognize indicators of author’s bias.
6-7.7 Analyze sources for accuracy, bias and purpose.
8-7.6 Evaluate sources for accuracy, bias and purpose.
Identify the bias:
• Hiliary spoke to the Democratic National
Committee on Friday. Her chat was followed
by an address by Senator Joseph Lieberman.
• The Navy’s mission team included four
aviators from Miramar and one female
aviator from Patuxent Naval Air Station.
Source: Media & American Democracy/ Bill of Rights Institute
Identify the bias:
In Bernard Goldberg’s book BIAS, he
accuses CBS News of bias in reporting.

Helping Our Students Understand Bias & Propaganda