Fake News

Learning objective

Develop skills to recognise news reports that are inaccurate or unreliable

Key question

Are there limits to freedom of expression?

Success criteria

Be able to identify fake or biased news

Be able to identify what news may cause offence and to which groups

Demonstrate sensitivity in dealing with controversial issues

Introduction to the learning

Discuss with the whole class whether newspapers should be free to publish anything they like or if not what restrictions should be imposed on them by law.

Discuss how important it is for news reports to be accurate. How do you think editors can be sure reports are accurate?

Discuss the idea of bias. What sort of bias do you find in newspapers if any and why? Is it the personal bias of the owner of the paper? Is it the bias of the readership?

What sort of topics could cause offence? Is it OK to post them on social networks? Should the network operators eg Facebook ban them? Discuss incitement to hatred.

As online news becomes more influential there is rising concern about distinguishing genuine stories from fakes. 70 per cent of British people are concerned about it. (Source: Reuters Digitial News Report 2019)

Main body of the learning

(Group work 1)

Compare how the same story is treated in several newspapers. (Find a recent story that might be controversial, political, social. In selecting it take account of possible offence to members of the class)

(Either have groups work in pairs to compare their findings. Or) move to plenary and get (each group) students to report their findings.

Using one example, without telling the students, of fake news, and one of biased reporting (you may have to draft them yourself) have the students (working in pairs) do two things:

1. Decide whether both articles are accurate and unbiased. If not what's wrong with them?

Support activities. Underline any words in the text you are doubtful about. Try and say why you are doubtful

2. Try your hand as a subeditor at making changes to the articles to improve them.

(Group work 2)

(Work in groups of two pairs to:)

1. Draft a letter to the editor to complain about bias or inaccuracy

2. Discuss what groups of people are likely to be offended by the article.  Would they be right?

Feedback and assessment


Citizenship Education for KS3 published by Hodder Education

Section 5 Liberty and freedom: 5.4 How free should the press be?