Provide or have students find and select two video news stories - at least one of which has been produced by a news organization, not an individual - that they’ve encountered in the past 48 hours. This works best if students can use a phone or computer to access their own social media feeds. If they need help finding stories, suggest they open up TikTok or Youtube and see if they can spot any content about current events:
Ask students to work backwards and investigate:
- Who made the story?
- How did it get to me?
- Are they making money from this?
Give students access to the following resources outlining roles on a news team, types of news items, and broadcast news business models to aid their investigation: Broadcast roles, types and business models WORKSHEET
Now, continue finding the answers to the three questions above with these guidelines:
- See if you can find credits. Reference Roles on a News Team to see who made this and guess what they did to contribute. If there are no credits, where do you think the information came from?
- What type of news item is this? Reference Types of News Items to determine.
- How did you encounter this content? Was it on social media, TV, a podcast? Who runs the account that you got it from? Check out their Linkedin or “about us” page to look for clues. If the source is just an individual, did they film and share this themselves or do you think they had help?
What is an algorithm? Social media platforms are run by algorithms, complex equations that collect data and monitor users’ behavior to put content in their feeds that they’re likely to engage with. TikTok’s “For You Page”, Instagram’s “Discover Page”, and YouTube’s “Recommended Videos” all use algorithms to predict what content a user is most likely to engage with the longest.
Why? Social media platforms are expensive to operate but “free” to use, meaning they must rely on advertisers, political campaigns, and content creators paying them for access to specific audiences they’ve identified using algorithms. What kind of news posts do you think might be targeted towards you?
- Finally, what categories does this organization fit into? (for-profit, public media, local, national).
- Reference Broadcast News Business Models. Investigate and take a guess: what is their business model?