Lessons

5 Lesson Plans to Celebrate World Press Freedom Day

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Commuters reading the official newspaper on a Pyongyang Metro platform. Image by Max Pinckers/The New Yorker. North Korea, 2017.

Commuters reading the official newspaper on a Pyongyang Metro platform. Image by Max Pinckers/The New Yorker. North Korea, 2017.

 

May 3 is World Press Freedom Day, and this year's theme is Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justice, and the Rule of Law. Every day, journalists risk their personal safety to tell the stories that need to be told, but we all have an important role to play: pressing stories only make an impact if the public is listening and engaged. Share the importance of a free press and an engaged public with your students this week with the five multimedia stories below! Each story is accompanied with a lesson plan.

Want your class to meet someone working to keep the media free, rigorous, and independent? Email education@pulitzercenter.org to Skype with a Pulitzer Center journalist for World Press Freedom Day or year-round!

1. The Life and Death of Miguel Angel Jiménez, Organizer in Guerrero, Mexico

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A voter near San Marcos, Guerrero tells Miguel Ángel Jiménez Blanco of alleged vote-buying and coercion by political parties in June. Image by Kara Andrade. Mexico, 2015.

A voter near San Marcos, Guerrero tells Miguel Ángel Jiménez Blanco of alleged vote-buying and coercion by political parties in June. Image by Kara Andrade. Mexico, 2015.

This bilingual English-Spanish documentary short introduces Miguel Angel Jiménez Blanco, an activist in Mexico who held power to account and exposed government corruption using his cell phone, and paid the ultimate price for his critical work. Explore the use of technology in activism and the hazards of spreading important information against the interests of powerful people with this lesson plan.

2. How Morocco Has Weakened Its Press, Pushing Readers to Social Media for News

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A customer talks to the vendor of a newsstand in Morocco’s capital. Very few publications in Morocco offer critical reporting of the government or the royal family, which uses a system of economic oppression to control what is published. Image by Jackie Spinner. Morocco, 2017.

A customer talks to the vendor of a newsstand in Morocco’s capital. Very few publications in Morocco offer critical reporting of the government or the royal family, which uses a system of economic oppression to control what is published. Image by Jackie Spinner. Morocco, 2017.

Despite Morocco's recently relaxed free expression laws, many journalists are still being penalized for keeping power in check, leading to a climate of self-censorship. Jackie Spinner reports on how journalists are coping and the role of citizens in ensuring a free press for the Christian Science Monitor. Use this 15-minute lesson plan to guide a nuanced class discussion.

3. The Risk of Nuclear War with North Korea

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Students at the Pyongyang Orphans’ Secondary School, which is housed in a new brick-and-steel complex. In a class of ten- and eleven-year-olds, one boy asked, “Why is America trying to provoke a war with us?” Image by Max Pinckers/The New Yorker. North Korea, 2017.

Students at the Pyongyang Orphans’ Secondary School, which is housed in a new brick-and-steel complex. In a class of ten- and eleven-year-olds, one boy asked, “Why is America trying to provoke a war with us?” Image by Max Pinckers/The New Yorker. North Korea, 2017.

"To go between Washington and Pyongyang at this nuclear moment is to be struck, most of all, by how little the two understand each other," writes Evan Osnos for the New Yorker. Last year, Osnos traveled to North Korea and came back with stories of what the absence of a free press looks like—and the dangers it can present for a country and the world. This lesson plan asks students to place themselves in Osnos's shoes and imagine the responsibility of the journalist in a place of very limited free expression.

4. The Paradise Papers

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ICIJ's global investigation that reveals the offshore activities of some of the world’s most powerful people and companies.

ICIJ's global investigation that reveals the offshore activities of some of the world’s most powerful people and companies.

This massive investigative journalism project exposes how political leaders, businesspeople, and the wealthy elite around the world use offshore entities to avoid taxes and cover up wrongdoing. UNESCO defines investigative journalism as “the unveiling of matters that are concealed either deliberately by someone in a position of power, or accidentally, behind a chaotic mass of facts and circumstances - and the analysis and exposure of all relevant facts to the public.” Well executed, it always holds power to account. Use this lesson plan to introduce students to investigative journalism, let them try out its practices themselves, and introduce them to the Paradise Papers, a historic journalistic undertaking.

5. Facing Risk

This documentary short introduces the potential dangers of international reporting and shows the impact journalists' career choices can have on their families. Using this lesson plan, students can reflect on the mission of a journalist, evaluate the challenges that journalists face when reporting on global conflict, and make action plans for embarking on reporting projects that could be potentially dangerous.

Bonus! Seeking Global News: Connecting with Journalists

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Marvin Kalb speaks to Arthur Jones II about journalism. Image by Cece Charendoff. United States, 2017.

Marvin Kalb speaks to Arthur Jones II about journalism. Image by Cece Charendoff. United States, 2017.

Get your students ready for World Press Freedom Day with a discussion of why journalism and global news matter, featuring an interview with reporting legend Marvin Kalb.

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