How do media
By Diana Elbasha
By the end of this lesson, students will…
• Understand the meaning of social justice and which
issues constitute “news”
• Gain perspective on how social justice has evolved in
• Know the most effective ways of covering sensitive
social justice topics
• Understand the effects of different types of media on a
Social Justice Defined
Social justice generally refers to the idea of
creating an egalitarian society or institution that is
based on the principles of equality and solidarity,
that understands and values human rights, and
that recognizes the dignity of every human being.
Education and Social Justice, J. Zajda, S. Majhanovich
Includes topics such as poverty,
discrimination, racism, injustice, civil rights,
and humanitarian issues, among others.
Social Justice in
ImagesConveying information through images is one of the
most effective, emotion-arousing forms of
- Research has shown that emotional content is the most
likely to become viral, as are “awe-inspiring” stories that
force readers to view the world differently.
- News-related images are more likely to be shared than
humorous ones, according to research by Social Media
Expert Dan Zarrella.
- “Vivid” images are particularly effective because they
present content in a “language” that is understood by all
people, regardless of literacy, culture, etc. All brains have the
same capability of interpreting images.
Read this Washington Post
story and view some
photos depicting the 1999
Note the differences in detail between these two features:
the use of imagery through words versus imagery through
• Photos were successful in capturing emotion through
tears, facial expressions, dead bodies, etc.
• Which medium did you personally prefer?
You are the editor of the New York Times. You
must select one of these photos to accompany a
front page story about the Somali famine.
Click to view larger
How will you make your
This was the Times’ actual front
While Executive Editor Bill Keller took some heat for running
this photo, he stood by the decision, calling it a “no-brainer.”
• How did you feel after viewing the Times’
• After seeing the photos, do you feel more
compelled to take action to help the Somali cause?
• Where is the line for journalists between informing
the public and advocating for a social issue?
• Is it okay for journalists to advocate for global
crises? Are there exceptions?
Related content: TIME’s “100 Photos that Changed the
“The fact that people far away can see with visceral immediacy the facts of a crisis like
the one now hitting the Horn of Africa is one of the most optimistic aspects of the modern
world. Consciences are awakened by the camera ... [these pictures] tell the whole world
what will happen across the region unless urgent international action comes
immediately.” – Jonathan Jones, The Guardian
“The photographs fail to show the reason why so many people have reached this state of
destitution. Underneath the high visibility famine lies an age-old and sustainable way of living that
has been disrupted by a modern world system, and whose ability to adapt to the cycle of drought
has been severely undermined.” – Helen de Jode, The Guardian
There is an ongoing ethical debate about
publishing graphic images of humans in such
Is it part of covering news, or is it distasteful?
Here are two opinions on publishing photos of famished Somalis.
Photographers aren’t the only ones using images:
Kosovo: a lost
and was being
passed over a
fence to his
How often do you feel you get the positive side of a
humanitarian conflict? In your opinion, was covering this
moment necessary? Helpful to understanding the