Women in the News Activity (Grades 5-12)

Every day for a month, students study the front page of their hometown newspaper.

Students are divided into groups:

  • 2 groups to study photos

  • 2 groups to study author bylines

  • 1 group to study authorities and experts quoted in the articles.

Groups studying photos should determine:

  • the number of photos depicting women as leaders

  • the number of photos showing women as window dressing

  • the number of photos portraying women as victims

  • the number of days there are no photos of women

  • the number of days there are no photos of men.

Groups studying author bylines should determine:

  • the number of front page stories written by women

  • the number of front page stories written by men

  • the total number of stories on the front page.

Groups studying authorities and experts should determine:

  • who are the authorities quoted in the articles

  • how many are women

  • how many are men.

Before the survey begins, students should make predictions about what the final results will be.

  • Tabulate information daily.

  • Graph the results.

  • Discuss the results and debate what the information means. Explore possible reasons for the findings.

  • Write a letter to the newspaper inviting the editor to visit the class and discuss the results.

  • How does the local paper compare to USA Today, a newspaper that claims to pay attention to making women visible within its pages?

Activity developed by Ron Adams, Broad Meadows Middle School, Quincy, MA.

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