News Goggles: Ad or news?

Grades: 7-9, 10-12+

News Goggles annotations and activities offer news literacy takeaways on timely topics. These resources feature examples of actual news coverage, including full news reports, headlines, breaking news alerts or excerpts. 

This News Goggles resource originally appeared in a previous issue of The Sift newsletter for educators, which explores timely examples of misinformation, addresses journalism and press freedom topics and examines social media trends and issues. Read archives of the newsletter and subscribe here. 

When it comes to advertising, not everything online is as it first appears. Some ads, for example, are designed to look like news stories. To make things trickier, this kind of advertising has different names and is marked with different labels, including “sponsored content,” “native advertising,” “advertorial,” “paid post,” or hashtags such as #ad or #sponsored.

Let’s use our news goggles to tell the difference between ads and news — even when they look alike!

 Featured News Goggles resource: These classroom-ready slides offer annotations, discussion questions and a teaching idea related to this  topic.

Discuss: Have you ever mistaken an ad online or on social media for a news story? What made you think it was a news story? Do you think it is important for people to know the difference between news stories and advertisements? Which of these examples of advertising would you say is most responsibly and clearly labeled? Which is most confusing?

Idea: Ask students to keep a journal for a week on examples of different advertising, including branded content, that they come across as part of their typical news consumption. What labels do they notice? Were some ads hard to identify?

Resources:“InfoZones” and “Branded Content” (NLP’s Checkology virtual classroom); Informable® (NLP’s free mobile app). 

Have feedback about this resource? Or an idea for a future News Goggles? Please share it with us at thesift@newslit.org. You can also use this guide for a full list of News Goggles from the 2020-21 school year for easy reference. 


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