Lesson Plan: Is All Press Positive?
Analyzing Media and Propaganda about Muslims in Post 9/11 America

Activities and Procedures

3. Class Project

Share with students that they will be investigating the assertions, as read in the oral histories, that the media has been unfair in its depiction of Muslims and Islam.

Explain to students that they will be reviewing assorted print and online media for articles, speeches, or political cartoons featuring Muslims or Islam, keeping an eye out for positive or negative images, representations or biases. Divide them into small groups and provide each group with a selection of news magazines and/or newspaper articles that you have collected. If your class has Internet access, you may also wish to direct students to some of the websites listed in the “Related Resources” section below. Have students skim and scan these sources and use the reproducible “Tabs on the Media” to record and analyze their findings.

When students have completed their assignment, reconvene as a large group to review their conclusions. To wrap up the activity, ask students to discuss their answers to the “So What?” question (found at the bottom of “Tabs on the Media”) and to evaluate whether they better understand the perspectives of the authors of This Is Where I Need To Be.

4. Homework or Longer-term Assignments

  1. Students watch and compare a single night’s episode of BBC News (on PBS) and World News Tonight (on ABC), and take notes on the differences in terms of headlines, geographic coverage, visual images, and words used to describe Muslims or Islam (if any). They can use “Tabs on the Media” reproducible for this assignment.
  2. Students research and analyze the representation of Muslims in the media since 9/11 by collecting editorial and political cartoons. Possible sources for research include cartoonstock.com and cagle.com. Students might create a classroom gallery and write a statement in response to the question: What are some typical misperceptions and stereotypes Westerners hold about Islam and the Middle East, and vice versa?
  3. Students investigate the presence of an anti-Muslim bias in the election campaign of 2008. They collect quotes from politicians, public citizens, and journalists to develop a case study on election propaganda and public opinion.
  4. Students research biases against minority groups over time. They create a timeline that connects major world or national events with an upsurge of violence or bias against a cultural, ethnic, or religious group.

Related resources for this lesson plan.

FAIR Smearcasters
This 2008 report documents examples of Islamophobic references in the media. Compiled by the nonprofit “Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting.”

Islamophobia Watch
A non-profit online project to document material in the public domain which advocates a fear and hatred of the Muslim peoples of the world and Islam as a religion.

Five reasons to teach, This is Where I Need to Be.

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