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Does Profit Trump the Truth? The 1st Amendment in the 21st Century

sign that reads First Amendment Permit Area
Lesson Plan Author(s): 
Mason Golding and Jake McBee
Can media be both a commodity and a public service?
Teaching Area: 
Social Studies
American Government, Standard 8
Grade Level: 
11th and 12th Grades
Teaching Level: 
Secondary Childhood
Origins Item(s): 

This lesson plan focuses on the news and media in America today and the idea of freedom of speech. The Origins article deals with how the media has responded to the 2016 presidential campaign of Donald Trump. The article analyzed the media’s heavy focus on the Trump campaign compared to the rest of the candidates (Trump received an estimated 2 billion in free media coverage and far more than his opponents). We decided to use this article because it deals with the issues of the First Amendment, freedom of speech, and how they relate to the responsibility of the news media. The article also traces the history of the news and how ratings and revenue became their primary objectives instead of simply reporting information. After reading the article for homework, students will begin class by participating in a Quick Write answering what they think is the most important part of the First Amendment. After watching the video on news sensationalism, they will participate in the interactive Nearpod lecture. The lecture will provide students with questions and polls to participate in from their own devices. After analyzing the article and issues through the Nearpod lecture, students will be prompted to choose sides in the “On the Fence” activity. Students will pick sides based on the statement “Should the media be regulated or does the First Amendment provide them the freedom to say and do what they want?” Students will debate the issue using evidence from the article to try to convince other students to join their side. To close the lesson, students will participate in a 3-minute essay to express their thoughts and what they have learned.

Instructional Strategies:

Quick Write: (Quick Write)
On the Fence Activity (On the Fence?)
3-Minute Essay (3-minute essay)

Lesson Materials:

Nearpod Presentation/Polls

Key Words: 
First Amendment, media, Trump