Compare & Contrast
Two versions of the same news story from different news sources

Media educator Laurie Mullikin suggests the following approaches:

(1) Ask students to discuss the main conclusions of a recent FTC report re marketing violent media to kids based on a recent newspaper article. Without telling the kids you are doing this, give kids in one half the room one article and the other half of the room the other. As they debate the conclusions of the report, ask students why they have such different views of the same report. Why does the room seem split down the middle? They may or may not discover early that they have different articles. It's OK in either case. 
(2) give students both articles in a handout, but in half the handouts have the LA Times story first and in the other have the Dow Jones story first. Without telling students you have reversed the order, pass them out so one physical half the class has one version and the other half has the other. Ask them to debate the conclusions of the FTC report and watch them draw different conclusions from the same facts. If the room seems split (good progress vs little progress) based on where they sit, see if they can explain that. If this does happen, you can tell them they may have been influenced by the order in which they read the stories and see if anyone will change their opinion knowing that.

NOTE: full FTC report can be found here:

FTC: Progress Made In Alerting Parents To Violent Content

Fri Jun 28, 1:50 PM ET WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- A federal agency monitoring the marketing of violent entertainment content to children says the industry has made progress in alerting parents to material that might be objectionable.

In a report released Friday, the Federal Trade Commission said it tracked advertising placements in media popular with young consumers, and reviewed advertisements in print and on television and the Internet ( news - external web site) to determine whether they included clear and prominent rating and labeling information.

The FTC said it found continued progress by the movie and electronic-game industries and improvement by the music industry in including rating information in advertising that would help parents identify material that may be inappropriate for their children.

"The commission can report real progress in the disclosure of rating information in most forms of advertising, and nearly universal compliance by both the movie and electronic-games industries with industry standards that restrict certain ad placements," the FTC said in its report.

The commission also noted the decision by a major recording company, BMG, to begin to include in advertising and on product packaging the reasons why a recording has a parental advisory label.

The report found the movie industry places virtually no ads for R-rated movies in popular teen magazines. But studios continue to advertise R-rated movies on television shows popular with teens, it said.

The report also said the music industry continues to advertise music with explicit content on TV shows and in print magazines popular with teens, but finds that the industry has made progress in placing the parental advisory in industry advertising.

The FTC found widespread compliance in the game industry with standards limiting ads for M-rated, or mature-rated, games in media with audiences containing a high percentage of teens.


FTC Says Adult Fare Still Marketed to Kids

Media: Study says advertisers continue to push violent content despite a wake-up call in 2000.


June 29 2002

Nearly two years after federal regulators blasted entertainment companies for marketing violent movies, music and video games to kids, the Federal Trade Commission said Friday that media companies continued to advertise adult-oriented fare in music and magazines and on television programs popular with children.

"The commission finds little change in the practices of all three industries with regard to advertising violent R-rated movies, M-rated games and explicit-content-labeled recordings in media popular with teens," according to the 62-page report.

The latest report represents somewhat of a standoff between the FTC, which continues to prod the media to adopt tougher marketing restrictions, and entertainment companies, which say they have gone as far as they are willing to go in limiting violence. The original September 2000 report--requested by then-President Clinton--sent shock waves through Hollywood and Washington by revealing that movie studios had tested R-rated movies on 10-year-olds and advertised during Saturday morning cartoons.

Despite the commission's disappointment, the watchdog agency continues to oppose new laws or regulations. "Because of 1st Amendment concerns, we continue to think the best way to go is self-regulation," said Richard Kelly, the FTC attorney in charge of the report.

The agency's credited the movie and video game industries for halting some of the more egregious practices and voluntarily agreeing to curtail ads for R-rated films and mature-rated games on television programs for which more than 35% of the viewers are under age 17. They also have stopped ads in magazines reaching high percentages of children.

But the FTC says such thresholds do not go far enough because many TV programs, such as "7th Heaven" and "Real World," have large teen audiences.

For the third time, the FTC singled out the music industry for showing "virtually no change" in its ad practices and for refusing to adopt any age-based marketing restrictions. The report did, however, find that the industry was doing a better job at labeling its "explicit content" stickers on CDs and was encouraged by the plans of music conglomerate BMG to begin offering more specific labels, using such content descriptors as "violent" or "sexual.".

Hilary Rosen, head of the Recording Industry Assn. of America, said the industry believed that parents were satisfied with the labeling improvements adopted by most major music companies.

But Rep. W.J. "Billy" Tauzin (R-La.) said he was deeply disappointed by the music industry's lack of progress. "I wonder how high we need to turn up the amp before the music industry hears what Congress, the FTC and concerned parents have been saying," Tauzin said.