MODULE 1 - THE MEDIA UNIVERSE
SESSION 1 : FUNCTIONS AND TOOLS OF INFORMATIONPractical activities
ACTIVITY 3 – ROLE-PLAYING THE INFORMATION CYCLE CHAPTER
In this role-play of the information cycle, participants play the parts of the different figures that help create the news:
- news subjects, witnesses, reporters, newswriters, and presenters/crew.
The aim is to show students the inherent difficulties of faithfully and objectively reporting an event, especially when relying on eyewitnesses.
- Help students to understand, establish, and identify the people involved in the information cycle. - Put students in the role of members of the media (role-play)
First, divide participants into 5 groups. Each group will have a role to play in the information cycle, consisting of the steps listed in the information cycle section in lesson sheet 3.
This activity will be most effective if the groups have no contact with one another before the activity stipulates that they should interact (ideally, you should make participants leave the room and come back in one group at a time).
- In the first step, the first group makes up an event of public interest, such as a car accident involving a politician, a strike by workers whose factory has been shut down, or a celebrity arrest (choose a famous actor or singer). After conferring amongst themselves away from the other groups, the first group stages/recreates/draws the event for the second group only.
- The second group, playing the role of witnesses, are the only ones to see the event staged by the first group. The second group alerts the media.
- The third group are the reporters, who then enter the scene. They listen to the witnesses’ testimony (group 2) and check the facts by using ‘5W’ questions to corroborate the witnesses’ statements. (The ‘5Ws’ are Who? What? Where? When? and Why?)
- The fourth group are the news writers (who have been sequestered from the beginning). They collect the interview write-ups and write a newsbrief – that is, a short article that summarises the event by answering the ‘5Ws’.
- The news brief is sent to the members of the fifth group (presenters and crew), who announce the news item as it was reported to them in an audio or video recording or, for example, in a simulated television news programme.
The four groups that passed on the information (from the witnesses to the broadcast team) have the delicate task of conveying information as completely and neutrally as possible. It might, however, be interesting to sabotage the activity by, for example, asking one of the witnesses in group 2 to lie about what they saw or to invent a conspiracy theory about the event.
- A brief follow-up to the activity is a chance to ask the following questions:
- Was the information passed on accurately? Did the last group’s report closely resemble the actual facts?
- What are the inherent difficulties of each step/role?
- What helps or hinders each group when it comes to dealing with information? What can they do?
The Balkan context
For this activity, refer to the ‘Fake news’ topic sheet in the ‘Get informed section of our educational website. Teachers will find here examples of news items that were distorted by the information cycle.