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The Inauguration and the Media

Topic
Instructional Objectives
Background Information
Activities
Evaluation
Extension Ideas

Topic

Students will read, review, and write about the presidential inauguration as it appears in the media.

Instructional Objectives

By using the activities of this lesson, the students will:

  1. use local and national newspapers to gain information about the inauguration;
  2. compare newspapers, periodicals, news broadcasts and the Internet as sources of information;
  3. develop their own editorial on the inauguration and the presidency.

Background Information

In our modern society, we live in a time known as the "Information Age." Information can be acquired through a number of sources that use modern technology to bring events and ideas to us almost instantaneously. With so much information at our disposal, our democracy requires that citizens know how to consume, analyze, and filter information and its sources.

The inauguration of a president is a world event that carries a high level of symbolism for the people of the United States and all over the world. With the images of television and the speed of the new medium known as the Internet, students of government, politics, and history will need to have the skills required to evaluate information and express their opinions in a way that is logical and reasonable to others.

Activities

  1. Have students watch the local and national news broadcasts of the inauguration. Have them create a chart that compares the two types of broadcasts. Students should take notes to list the differences in how the local and national news handled the following ideas:
    • How the president prepared for the inaugural ceremony
    • The ceremony itself: its symbols, traditions, and people
    • How the new presidential administration will affect the American people
    • Reactions from people in your state, county, and community
    • The opinions of people from around the world
    • Historical information on past inaugurations and presidential administrations

  2. Bring into class the local newspaper from January 20 and a newspaper with a national perspective, such as the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, or USA Today.

    Have students compare articles on the inauguration using the same ideas as listed above. Be sure to have them visit the opinion-editorial page of the local and national papers. Have students summarize one editorial by writing a paragraph about it. In their summary, students should state whether they agree with the editorial and why.

  3. If the Internet is available, allow students to access the Web sites of major news providers. Have students develop brief reports on how using the Web is better or worse than using such other media as newspapers, television, and magazines. Have students comment on the uses of multimedia, the reliability of information on the Internet, and its global scope.

    Sites students might visit include:

  4. Have students keep a scrapbook on the Bush inauguration for a week leading up to and/or a week following the inauguration. Students may want to keep newspaper and magazine clippings, maintain a journal on viewing news broadcasts, or print out Web pages they encountered—or collect all these in one scrapbook. Allow students to comment on how effective and how accurate their news sources are, or how these sources might change the delivery of news. In their journals, students will want to classify stories as news, features, or opinion. Students can share or present their opinions and summaries after the event has receded from the news.

  5. After viewing and discussing the inauguration, have students write editorials on the Bush presidency. Have students send their letters to the editor of the local newspaper or post their efforts to their school Web site. Develop a Web page that looks like a student publication. Students may want to "report" on the events of the inaugural, and their letters can be published online. Allow the online community to read and respond to online student publications. Read responses in class or assign them to students to discuss.

Evaluation

The lesson can be evaluated through the following measures:

  1. the accuracy of student analysis, both written and oral;
  2. the variety of sources the student used in comparisons of media coverage;
  3. demonstrated understanding of the issues presented, as demonstrated in the written editorial.

Extensions

  1. Compare local or regional news coverage of your state governor's inauguration to the coverage of the presidential inauguration.
  2. Explore how international news media sources cover the U.S. presidential inauguration. What differences and similarities exist between national and international coverage of the event? Some news sources to investigate include: