Warm-up: What are the differences between local and national news?
Introducing the Lesson: About the Navajo Nation, the Navajo Times, and the impact of COVID-19 on Navajo communities.
Analyzing the Reporting: Watching "The People’s Newspaper" or "How One Paper Is Covering COVID-19 in the Most Under-Connected Part of the U.S.," which was published in The New Yorker, and responding to comprehension and discussion questions.
- Creating a “my community” newspaper using headlines for important local stories.
- Conducting video interviews: how have you been affected by COVID-19?
At the end of this lesson, students will be able to:
- Determine the central ideas of a video from The New Yorker about the Navajo Times, a local journalism outlet serving the Navajo Nation in the Southwest United States.
- Analyze the role of local reporting during the COVID-19 pandemic and specifically the role that local news outlets play in elevating stories affecting Indigenous/Native American communities.
- Use journalistic and video techniques to represent underreported issues in their own communities.
Note to teacher: This warm-up will require students to have access to computers to look up news websites (potentially could use paper newspapers if they are available). This activity can be an individual effort if every student has a personal computer. If not, this can be a group activity - allow students to answer questions one and two independently, and then a teacher can use a projector or shared screen to complete questions three and four as a class.
- On their own, or in small groups, ask students to brainstorm responses to the following questions:
* How do you or the people in your life get news?
* What are some news and journalism outlets you know about? How many of these outlets serve your local community?
- Consider asking 1-2 students to share some news outlets, including newspapers, blogs, websites, local television and radio stations, etc.
- Guided review of news outlets:
* Find a copy of a newspaper serving your local community, either online or a physical paper copy, and work with students to fill out a chart (see attached PDF).
- Analyze the topics and themes that frequently appear in the mainstream news outlets you look at. (see attached PDF)
* What topics and themes do you think are “missing” from these outlets?
* Discuss in small groups or as a class: why are some stories “missing” from mainstream news?
The Navajo Nation is made up of approximately 250,000 people who live across over 27,000 square miles of land extending through parts of Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. For this entire group of people, there is only one journalism outlet providing news for the Navajo people, by Navajo journalists - the Navajo Times.
The short documentary film, “The People’s Newspaper” tells a story about the journalists working for the Navajo Times, a paper that has exclusively served the Navajo Nation since 1959. The film reports on the paper’s efforts to continue covering important and underrepresented issues for their community in the wake of widespread physical, financial, and social strife exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This lesson plan explores the role of local reporting for the Navajo Nation during the COVID-19 pandemic, and encourages students to consider contemporary issues concerning the Navajo Nation and Indigenous American communities today. Students are also encouraged to use discussions about local reporting and challenges faced by lack of connectivity to make local connections.
Navajo Nation: A Native American indigineous tribe made up of approximately 250,000 people living primarily in the Southwest US states of Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah
Pandemic: A disease prevalent throughout a whole country or the whole world. Generally used in modern contexts to refer to the COVID-19 pandemic, a virus that caused widespread unrest and shutdown of schools, businesses, and other public places throughout the world in 2020 and 2021.
Journalist: A person who writes for newspapers, magazines, news websites, or news programs on television or radio, or a person who prepares news to be broadcast to the public.
Introducing the Reporting:
- Watch the short documentary “How One Paper Is Covering COVID-19 in the Most Under-Connected Part of the U.S.” by Pulitzer Grantee Eléonore "Léo" Hamelin. The story was produced in partnership between the Pulitzer Center and the New Yorker, in conjunction with Blue Chalk Media.
2. As students watch, they should write down their answers to the following comprehension questions on a separate piece of paper.
- According to Duane Beyal, what is the “meaning” of the Navajo Times?
- T/F: The Navajo Times was the first Native newspaper to become independent from its tribal government.
- How long does journalist Donovan Quintero say it might take to travel for an assignment within the Navajo nation?
- List three resources that many people in the Navajo nation do not have access to, according to the documentary.
- Has the newspaper’s circulation increased or decreased over the last 10 years? By how much?
- What is the philosophy of the Navajo Times?
Reflection and Discussion:
After viewing the video, students write down their thoughts and answers to the following reflection questions on the same sheet of paper or discuss these questions with their classmates in groups of Students should use details from the video to support their answers.
- What do local newspapers provide to communities that is different from large, national news outlets?
- How has COVID-19 affected the Navajo Nation?
- Why do you think the journalists in the documentary care about covering issues related COVID-19?
- What are some of the challenges that the Navajo Times has faced in recent years?
- What is a moment in the documentary that particularly stood out to you? Why?
- What do you think is the central message of the documentary? How can you tell?
“My Community” Newspapers
Think back to the warm-up activity about news outlets and headlines that was completed at the start of this lesson, and remind yourself of your response to question three, where you were asked, “what headlines are missing from your local newspaper?” With these reflections in mind, use the following steps to create a mockup of an imaginary newspaper for your school, neighborhood, state, or any other community you belong to.
- Write up at least 3-5 sample headlines of stories that you think should be covered in this community. Be sure to include a sentence or two of context for each headline - but you do not need to write out the whole story.
- Place your headlines on the design for the front page of your newspaper. Consider how you would order the headlines, and why.Give your newspaper a special title - be creative!
Practice your skills with video, journalism, and interviewing by interviewing the people in your life about how they have been affected by COVID-19. Use the following steps:
- Choose an individual to interview. This can be a classmate, a family member, a neighbor, or any other person who you think might have an interesting perspective.
- Receive permission from this person to interview them and record the interview as a video. You can use your phone to record, or record a Zoom, Teams, Google, etc. call with the person.
- Prepare and conduct the interview. You can write your own question for the person, or use these sample questions:
- Has your life changed during the COVID-19 pandemic?
- How has your life changed?
- Do you think your life will be different moving forward?
- How do you define “normal?” Has that definition changed in the last year?
- Create a write-up of the interview, pulling out your favorite quotes, to share with the class.
- For tips on how to prepare interviews and identify strong quotes, click here for interview tips from Pulitzer Center grantee Natasha S. Alford.
This lesson plan is aligned with the following Common Core standards:
Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.
Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.