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WebQuests (ICT Integration)

Freedom of Expression: Censorship

"Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers".
- Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Many areas of the media, for example, film, video, the Internet, books, videogames, music, radio, TV, and advertisements, are subject to censorship. Most agree that these media exert a strong influence on the community (and on youth). Many would argue that the media needs to be regulated, held accountable and made socially responsible to the values of the community. Laws are passed and efforts are made to censor information distribution through Internet filters, TV and movie ratings, and other 'indecency' laws. Do you think that this infringes on the right to freedom of expression?


Your research company has been approached by a parliamentary sub-committee to produce a well-balanced report answering the question: "Are South African censorship laws oppressive?"

You have been asked to produce the report in the form of a newsletter. This newsletter should bring the issue of censorship to the fore and stimulate the Members of Parliament and public at large to think about and discuss the issue ahead of public hearings which could eventually lead to a revision of the censorship laws in this country.


Your team newsletter will include, at a minimum, the following:

(a) Four newsworthy articles that highlight or focus on local news, events, issues relating to other incidents of press censorship. Each team member will be responsible for one of the four articles to be included in your team’s newsletter.

You may choose to use any of these articles /reports, using the proper journalistic style:
  • News Report Article: An article that is a short summary, write-up, or account of a news item.
  • News Interview Article: A summary written after conducting an interview (with a pre-prepared list of 20 questions) with a subject
  • Investigative Report: Includes research on a significant issue that affects the audience, and the use of the data (from various sources, including interviews, electronic and print media) to create a report
  • Speech or Event Article: This is written after listening to a public speech, press conference, or some other public event. This kind of article usually includes background information on the speaker/event and reaction to the speech or event.
Your team should begin by brainstorming ideas for topics to be selected for these four articles in each newsletter.

(b) At least two additional features articles of interest to the targeted audience. Features articles are usually on a topic of the writer's choosing, but should still be directed toward the audience's interest. You may work in pairs to write the features articles. Any of the following may be included:
  • Advice Column
  • Editorial
  • Letter to the Editor
  • Advertisements
  • Comic Strip
  • Community Events
  • Calendar
  • Announcements
  • Survey
  • Graphs
  • Personal Profiles
  • How-to Tips for a Product or Service
You should realize that each different section of a newsletter uses a different writing style.

For this assignment, you will work in teams of four and you will divide your task into roles as follows (click on each role for more information):

Government liaison / Editor
Your task is to write two articles. One will be the editorial comment (a type of introduction giving the team's view on censorship while raising some questions for the readers' further consideration). Your second article should be one of the newsworthy articles.

You will also lead the team and oversee the final editing of the entire newspaper.
Local researcher
Your task is to write two articles in which you highlight local perspectives on censorship, reporting from the viewpoint of members of the community or relating a censorship incident that occurred in South Africa. At least one article must be a newsworthy article. One of the articles could be a feature article such as letters to the editor or an advice column.

Discuss the nature of your articles with your editor and team members.
Foreign Researcher
Your task is to write two feature articles on the issue of censorship in other countries. It is your job to bring a fresh perspective to the newsletter by increasing the readers' understanding in a diversity of ways.

Discuss the nature of your articles with your editor and team members.
Human Rights Researcher
Your task is to write two articles in which you highlight a historical view of censorship in South Africa, specifically from the perspective of human rights violations. At least one article must be a newsworthy article. One of the articles could be a feature article such as letters to the editor or an advice column.

Discuss the nature of your articles with your editor and team members.

Meet as a team to discuss the number and types of articles that you would like to include in your newsletter. The editor will assign tasks and deadlines to the journalists. Arrange another meeting to discuss the layout and design of the newsletter. You will share the responsibility of preparing the layout and you will work as a team with your editor when compiling the final product.


» http://www.ohchr.org/EN/UDHR/Pages/Introduction.aspx
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

» http://www.ncac.org/
This is a perspective from the USA. Note that the site is against censorship and therefore presents a one-sided view.


By completing this activity you and your team will have examined the issue of censorship in some depth. You will hopefully have developed a well-informed opinion and communicated this effectively in your report. The balance between freedom of expression and the need for some form of control of expression is not always easily achieved and it is only through the examination and consideration of the issues that one can make informed decisions about this issue.

» Download the Presentation Assessment

Related Scenarios

» Freedom of Expression
» Ethical Journalists
» Being Right About Copyright

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