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                                                       Students will study an issue which has featured in the Australian media. They will discuss what an issue is                                                           In order to be able to form an opinion about it, the class will become familiar with Australian newspapers.                                                              There will be time in class devoted to completing a “Newspaper Exercise”. This will be followed by “Tasks                                                               relating to Issues”, consisting of two parts.


                                                        Issues are similar to arguments.  They involve and affect us as a community.  Community refers to either                                                               our local community (our suburb, our city, our state or country) or to the broader community (the globe, the                                                            universe or humankind).


                                                        issues of community importance are generally those issues that involve relationships  relationships between                                                          members of the community, or relations between communities or relations with what is outside

                                                         the community.  The concern is for how these relations are being conducted and how they affect us.


We often agree on the “facts” of an issue, but can’t agree on how we should interpret the facts and what is the most appropriate response to them.  Therefore it is necessary to understand how the media treats issues.


The whole point of Response to Issues is to give you a better understanding of the way we process information about the world around us.  The first essential knowledge is a grasp of how the media deal with information and opinion.




Content - The editorial content of a newspaper [ie. everything that is not advertising] consists of the following:-


News Stories - Up to the minute accounts of events that have just occurred.  The writers’ names are not usually given.  The style is usually impersonal and ‘factual’


Features - (Longer articles)  Not always up to date but giving a fuller account of the subject.  The style can be formal and impersonal (eg. political or commerce issues) or informal and highly personal (eg. fashion or entertainment)


The Editorial - This is the newspaper’s own official view on its chosen subject. Style - formal like an essay and is offered to the public as a serious contribution to the debate.


Columns or Opinions - (Letters to the editor).  This is a personal opinion of a writer.  No claim is made at all for the logic, fact or truth of these letters.


Reader Expectations

Readers usually expect the first two categories to deal in the truth, to avoid bias, irrationality and deceit.  They know the editorial is a matter of opinion - though it is fair to take it reasonably seriously.

They don’t expect such things of the last two (columns and letters to the editor), knowing them to be just someone’s opinion - take it or leave it.


Magazines work very much like newspapers.  How seriously a thoughtful reader takes their version of the ‘truth’ depends very much on which magazine it is.  The Bulletin or Time are as ‘objective’ or ‘truthful’ as possible in their news reporting, and can be trusted.  But those gossip magazines - let the reader think and beware!


Newspaper Exercise


Name of newspaper_________________________________ Date_______________


News Articles:


1. What are the various sections called in this paper?


2. Count how many articles you can find about local (Melbourne) news.


3. How many about Australian news?


4. How many items are there on the front page?


5. How many articles are about the world?


6. Is there anything about your country? If yes, what?




1. Pick out 3 photographs. Describe them.


2. Do the photos stand alone or are they part of a story?


3. Is there a photo with the lead article?




1. Find 3 different advertisements. What do they advertise?


2. Are they black/white or in colour?


3. Do they give you enough information to make you want to buy the items?




1. Are there feature articles in your paper?


2. What are they about? Do they continue with a topic mentioned somewhere else in the paper?


3. The purpose of a feature article is:






1. How many opinion articles are there in your paper?


2. Do they follow up on a topic mentioned somewhere else in the paper?


3. Who writes opinion articles?




1. Write down the title of the editorial in your copy of the paper.


2. Is this about a piece of news mentioned in your paper?


3. Whose opinion is the editorial?


Letters to the editor:


1. What is the title of the main letter?


2. Who writes letters to the editor?


3. Many, almost all, letters to the editor have something in common. What is this?




Conclusions I can make about the kind of paper I have examined:


Tasks relating to Issues



Choose 3 articles related to the Issue. Read these 3 articles very carefully so you can identify the points of view expressed in them.


Assessment tasks

Part I : In about 150-200 words you are to set out the following:

1. The names of the publication, the titles and authors of the articles you have chosen.

2. What is at issue?

3. In the case of each article, what is the writer's opinion about the issue?



Part 2 : Write a letter to the editor to "The Age" or "Herald Sun", clearly expressing your point of view about this issue. Your letter needs to be about 300 words long.


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