Lesson 9: Analyzing and Deconstructing the News

This lesson is the summing up of all of the other lessons, and takes you through the process of deconstructing a piece of news using the tools that have been taught in the previous lessons. Think of this lesson as the one that gets you ready for the "Final".

Here's a breakdown:

The Deconstruction Process

Here are the steps we teach students when deconstructing a story. (Note: This is a very comprehensive list -- You should look to combine or even edit it as necessary for your students)

  1. Summarize the main points of the story, do the headline and lede support the main point(s) of the story?
  2. Assess the evidence supporting the main points of the story. Is Direct? Arm’s-Length? How close did the reporter come to “opening the freezer”?
  3. Assess the reliability of the sources using IMVAIN
  4. Assess your own inherent bias to what or who might be reported on in the story. Are you reacting to them emotionally, or analyzing them intellectually?
  5. Assess the transparency level of the reporter. How does the reporter know what is being reported?
  6. Assess whether or not the story has been placed in context of the issue at large.
  7. Assess whether or not all of the key questions are answered. (Who, What, When, Where, How, Why?) Also assess what’s been left out of the story.
  8. Assess the balance of the story. While not every story needs to be balanced, the reader should always ask themselves “Is it fair to the evidence and to key stakeholders?”

And as always, the reader should ask  “What can I DO with this information? Is it actionable?”


Let's start with the first example:

After watching the video answer the following questions:

  • What do you think of the claims made in this story?
  • How do you react to those claims? With disbelief or skepticism?
  • What more do you need to know?
  • Can you make a reasoned assessment of its reliability?
  • By asking yourself these questions, you’ve just done a quick version of what we call “Deconstruction” of the news. Before making a snap decision on what the story is about or what it should make you feel, you’ve pondered these questions to utilmatley find out whether this story is reliable or not.


Lesson 9 Contents: