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December 21, 2020

Classroom Resource: Shields and Brooks celebrate a lifetime in American politics


Directions: Read the news summary, watch the video and answer the discussion questions. For a transcript of the video, click here.

News summary: In NewsHour’s Dec. 18th segment of “Shields and Brooks,” syndicated columnist Mark Shields marked his final appearance as a weekly contributor with a celebratory look back on his time with NewsHour. Shields, who will continue to be a special contributor during key events like elections, has been providing regular political commentary for NewsHour since the 1980s.


Warm up questions: 

  1. Who is Mark Shields?
  2. What do Shields and Brooks discuss on Fridays on PBS NewsHour?
  3. Where and When did Shields start with NewsHour and where else has he worked as a journalist and in politics?
  4. Why did NewsHour choose Shields and Brooks to discuss and debate politics every week?
  5. How has Shields reflected ideals of “politics as a noble profession, optimism as a defining American characteristic, and collective sacrifice for the common good,” according to this piece?

Focus questions:

  1. If you could ask a veteran journalist like Mark Shields two questions about how journalism has changed in the past few decades, what would you ask?
  2. If you could hear any two people debate politics every week, who would you choose?

Media literacy: The “Shields and Brooks” segment has been running on NewsHour for many years. David Brooks takes a more conservative view while Mark Shields provides a more liberal view. What do you think is the value to viewers of having just these two individuals every week to discuss politics, and for so many years together? What are the limitations?

Dig Deeper: How has the news media changed since Shields got his start as a political consultant and editorial writer? Take a look at these case studies in Journalism in Action, our site that covers the history of journalism in America, including the ways journalism and editorializing changed during the Vietnam War, Watergate and push for gender equality in the news media.

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