Beyond Media Messages: Media Portrayal of Global Development Lesson Plan

Level: Grades 7 to 12

Author: This unit was created for MediaSmarts by Media Educator, Maureen Baron.

media representationcommunity engagement

This lesson is part of USE, UNDERSTAND & ENGAGE: A Digital Media Literacy Framework for Canadian Schools.


In this three-day unit, students assess media coverage of natural disasters and their aftermath. Students explore how sensationalism plays a role in determining what is newsworthy, and how that can distort our perception of issues in developing nations.

What makes a story newsworthy? What positive results follow the natural disasters and how, where and when are those reported in the media? How do distorted perceptions of developing nations affect our attitudes and behaviours toward them?

As an extension activity, students may prepare a mock press conference in which they draw attention to reconstruction and recovery efforts following a natural disaster.

This lesson is part of the Beyond Media Messages: Media Portrayal of Global Development lesson series.

Learning Outcomes

Students will demonstrate the ability to:

  • articulate their views of developing nations
  • define and recognize sensationalism, and identify it in news coverage
  • demonstrate how news coverage influences our perception by focusing on particular aspects of developing nations
  • use research and authentication skills to present a more complete picture of developing nations

This lesson and all associated documents (handouts, overheads, backgrounders) are available in an easy-print, pdf kit version.