Activity 6:
Human Rights in the News


This activity uses recent newspapers and news media to develop an awareness of rights issues in everyday life and to show human rights not only as they are violated but also as they are protected and enjoyed.

Time: 30-45 minutes
Materials: Newspaper pages, chart paper, tape or glue, scissors
Copies of the UDHR, complete or simplified version
Setting: Middle school - Adult groups
Links: An excellent follow-up to Activity 5, A New Planet.
Combines well with Activity 9, Human Rights Around the World and at Home.


1. Divide participants into small groups. Each group receives a newspaper or pages from a newspaper, scissors, tape or glue, and a sheet of chart paper.

2. Each group will construct a poster using items from the newspaper grouped under these categories:

a. rights being practiced or enjoyed

b. rights being denied

c. rights being protected

d. rights in conflict

Encourage participants to look not only for news stories but also for small features such as announcements and advertisements (e.g., the language of the paper itself illustrates the right to language and culture, advertisements can illustrate the right to private property, reports of social events may illustrate cultural rights, and personal columns can reflect many rights in practice).

3. Once participants have found stories for each category, they should select one story from each category to analyze:

a. What specific rights were involved in the story? List them beside the article.

b. Find the article(s) of the UDHR that cover each right and write the article number(s) on the list.

Alternative: All groups contribute to four separate posters, combining the articles they have found to make class posters.

4. Ask a spokesperson from each group to summarize the group’s selections.

5. Choose one or two stories from each group’s poster and ask the group to explain their analysis of the story in terms of the UDHR:

  • What specific rights were involved in several stories?

  • What articles of the UDHR were involved?

  • Were more stories concerned with political and civil rights or social, economic, and cultural rights? See Part V, A Human Rights Glossary, for definitions. Why do you think one kind of right appeared more often?

6. Discuss:

  • What categories of rights stories were easiest to find? Hardest? Why?

  • Did some articles of the UDHR come up more often than others? Did others not come up at all? How can you explain this?

  • How many articles explicitly mentioned human rights? How many concerned human rights issues but did not use those words? Why do you think human rights were not mentioned?

  • Based on these news stories, what seems to be the state of human rights in the world today? In the USA? In your community?

  • What are some positive initiatives and actions for the protection and fulfillment of human rights indicated by the stories? Who is taking these actions?

Going Further

1. Keep Searching – Leave the posters hanging for an extended time, during which participants continue to add clippings. Reassess the posters and the concluding discussion.

2. Compare Media Coverage – Ask participants to compare coverage of the

same human rights stories in different newspapers and/or different media (e.g., radio, magazines, TV). What differences can they observe in importance given the story? In emphasis of features of the story? Are there different versions of a single event? Did any version of the story explicitly mention human rights?

3. Survey Television Coverage – Ask participants to watch a news program on TV and write down the topics covered and the amount of time given to each human rights topic.

Source: Nancy Flowers, Human Rights Educators’ Network, Amnesty International USA.



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  Human Rights Fundamentals The Right to Know Your Rights Activities Taking Action for Human Rights Appendices