News articles are an important resource for learning about the past. Newspapers and magazines are more likely than other historical documents to have survived, and they were often written with an awareness of their long-range importance.
News writing falls into two major categories: news articles and editorials. Both types of writing provide factual information and windows onto contemporary opinions. Seemingly objective details in fact reflect the bias of the author, the publisher and the reader. In addition to exploring the information the author included, students must consider why this subject matter was deemed newsworthy at the time. Especially in the case of editorials, one needs to know about the reader as well as the writer. Whom did the editors believe they would influence with their argument? Did the writer reflect or shape contemporary opinions on this topic?
Articles by and about women were rare through much of American history. Women in the public arena were often the object of suspicion or ridicule, and students should note subtle aspects of the text that convey such attitudes. Over time, women increasingly became both the recorders of and actors in noted events. How is the perspective of women journalists gendered? Does bias still exist towards women in the public sphere?
- Read for detail
- Identify persuasive language
FOR THE TEACHER
1. Discuss with your students the nature and value of news articles as an historical source.
2. Have students bring in a news article on a current event.
3. Have students complete Section 1 of the Student Activity Sheet and discuss their results.
4. Provide students with a news article from the Jewish Womens Archive collection.
5. Have students complete Section 2 of the Student Activity Sheet and discuss their observations.
6. Provide students with background information on this article and have them complete Section 3 of the Student Activity Sheet.
7. For more specific questions, look at Discuss This Document in the individual documents.
8. Discuss students responses.
9. If time permits, have students do the follow-up activities in Section 4 of the Student Activity Sheet.