Construction of Reality in the Media
Related human rights
A right to a correct and reliable information
You should be well-prepared to explain the inverted pyramid and why the media news are composed using the principle of the upside-down pyramid.
The peer educator must be ready to explain that, differently from the course of events in real life, journalists talk about events in reverse, i.e. they don’t follow the chronology of the events. Why do they do that? First of all, to save people’s time. If the news showed events like they are, news reports would take the entire day. Since we don’t have the whole day for watching television, reading newspapers or listening to the radio, our knowledge of the society, politics and other relevant events would be very limited. That is the role of journalists – putting highlights on the key events, their most important aspects and, of course, ensuring that they are precise and correct. How do they do that? They use not only the criteria of the value of news, which were discussed in the previous exercise, but also compose texts using the principle of an inverted pyramid.
Based on the principle of an inverted pyramid, we write about the outcome of the event at the very beginning (although, chronologically, the outcome is always received at the end). Thus, we begin with the major fact – the result – and then continue to give details according to their importance in descending order. When announcing the news, we usually focus on the following questions: Who? What? Where? When? How? and Why?
Writing according to this principle is not easy and requires professional preparation, attention to detail, the ability to assess the importance of information.
After explaining this, the peer educator invites the peers to write a text, based on the principle of an inverter pyramid – to read Eglė, the Queen of Grass-Snakes (Lithuanian fairy tale) and write a news story, based on it.
The writing task should take at least 30 minutes.
To sum up, the peer educator invites everyone to read their texts. When everyone’s done, you can ask the following questions:
1) What have you highlighted as the main peace of news? Where was this fact placed in the original text?
2) How is the construction of the news according to the principle of the inverted pyramid useful/not useful to the reader?
3) Do journalists distort the reality consciously and with a purpose to do so? What are the other reasons?
Further suggestions, additional material
You may analyse this topic together with critical thinking on gender role construction by raising a question of who is suggested as guilty for the event and if it’s right; also, does it reflect the situation objectively.