Theme I, M & A
An exciting and wide-ranging activity for
a group to work on the role of the media in spreading or
countering stereotype, prejudice and bias.
• Stereotypes and prejudice:
how they are multiplied and spread in society.
• The quantity, quality and amount
of information: manipulation, slants, abuse and lack of
• Images of people and "different"
groups due to generalizations and stereotyping.
• The difficulties we face in
changing our images and perceptions.
• The social "scapegoat"
mechanism. The tendency to blame "others" for
certain social problems without analysing all the causes.
Aims of the activity
• To enable participants to explore
the images that the majority society has of people from
different cultures or origins, minorities, etc.
• To notice that not all the
cultures different from our own carry a socially negative
• To analyse the role of the
mass media in the creation and development of stereotypes
and social prejudice.
Part A: Two and a half hours
Part B: One week
Part C: Two and a half hours
A minimum of ten and a maximum of twenty
Participants should be over 13 or 14 years
• Flip chart, marker pen
Depends on the resources available. The
materials which can be used in this type of activity are
• video recordings of TV programmes,
• radio etc.
It is however, possible to do this activity
simply with newspapers and magazines that the participants
can bring into the working groups.
• For the plenary: a flip chart
or a large board as well as some markers or chalk.
This activity is developed in three stages:
Part A: Preparation
1. Divide the participants into groups of
2. Explain that during the course of the
next week, they are going to analyse the different mass
media: TV, radio and, especially, written press in order
to find out how foreigners or 'people who are different'
3. Discuss exactly what the participants
are going to look for and be aware of. For example, the
language used (are they freedom fighters or terrorists?),
the amount of time or space given to these news items, the
priority given to it e.g. is it headline or footnote and
check how people are treated or portrayed according to their
origin. What sorts of photos and other images are used.
4. List the types of media you are going
to work on and allocate them to the groups. Depending on
the members of the group and your own acquaintance of the
mass media you may opt between giving all the groups the
whole task, or asking each group to deal specifically with
one medium, i.e. one team works with daily newspapers, another
with weekly magazines, another with TV another with radio,
Part B: Field work
Allow a week for the groups to carry their
research and tasks.
Part C: Conclusions
1. In plenary ask each group to present
the results of their research and documentation. Allow 20
minutes per group.
2. Write down the main findings of each
group on the flip-chart or board.
Debriefing and evaluation
Once the results have been put together,
give a brief summary of the information reported by each
group. Try to stress the most common findings as well as
those which might be contradictory.
The discussion can follow with questions
• What are the main features
by which the minority groups around us are portrayed in
• Are there minorities or groups
of foreigners that are portrayed positively?
• Are there others that are portrayed
• Are the images presented based
on facts and data or upon assumptions or judgments?
• How are the images built, from
the real knowledge about those groups or minorities, or
through stereotypes and manipulation of information?
Tips for the facilitator
Part A: There are advantages and disadvantages
in both options. Asking all the groups to cover the range
will require a greater effort and organisation of the work,
asking each team to deal specifically with one medium will
limit the global vision of each group but will be easier
to organise and perhaps allow people to go into the issues
in greater depth.
Since the main part of this activity is
carried out over a week, introduce the activity (part
A) at the end of a session but reserve a whole session for
bringing the results together (part C).
It is recommended that you do this activity
with participants who already know each other and have some
experience of group work e.g. be members of a youth club
Depending on how well you are acquainted
with the participants and the situation you may change the
time frame indicated for the activity. For example, if the
activity takes place during school holidays, the time needed
for the field work may be reduced to three days; similarly
it may be extended if circumstances call for it.
Suggestions for follow up
According to the work done by the teams,
you may propose that they set up a 'watch dog' group to
regularly review the media for examples of bad reporting
and distortion. This could be followed by writing collective
letters to the newspapers, TV or radio whenever they find
examples of discrimination against someone or some minority.
If you wish to explore further the relationships
between ideas, words and images, a fun way to do it
is to play 'Cultionary'. Alternatively,
you might enjoy playing the board game, 'The
path to development' which raises many social, economic
and political issues covered regularly in the media.
Alternatively you may like to go on to use
as many forms of media as you can to compile 'A
glossary of globalisation' (in Compass). The aim
of the activity is to gain knowledge and understanding of
the manifestations, causes and consequences of globalisation.