Thirteen Ed Online
Lesson Plans
Journalists Under Fire

Overview Procedures for Teachers

In recent U.S. conflicts, including the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, U.S. military and government officials have kept American reporters away from the front lines. Michael Gordon of The New York Times, Carol Morello of The Washington Post, Sarah Chayes of National Public Radio, and others note that restrictions on their access to information have gone beyond what they've seen in previous conflicts.

Military officials and defense civilians often argue that they need to keep information from the press to protect the lives of soldiers on dangerous missions. At the same time, members of the news media counter that information is strictly controlled to keep important aspects of the war from the American public. Reporters argue that more openness about the war is vital for our country and that limiting coverage denies Americans information they need to make informed decisions about national policies.

Grade Level:
Grades 9-12

Time Allotment:
Background Activity: Two 50-minute classes
Activity One: One 50-minute class
Activity Two: Two 50-minute classes

Subject Areas:
Civics, Language Arts

Learning Objectives

Students will:
  • Research the history of the U.S. news media's coverage of recent American conflicts and how that coverage has affected public opinion.

  • Examine the relationship between the news media and the military during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

  • Have a debate on the freedom of the press during wartime.


Standard 19: Understands what is meant by the "public agenda," how it is set, and how it is influenced by public opinion and the media.

Language Arts
Reading Skills Standard 7: Uses reading skills and strategies to understand and interpret a variety of informational texts.