Close message Scootle has stopped supporting resources that use the Adobe Flash plug-in from 18 Dec 2020. Learning paths that include these resources will have alerts to notify teachers and students that one or more of the resources will be unavailable. Click here for more info.

Teacher guide Democracy and the media - a unit of work

TLF ID R11134

This unit of work for middle and upper secondary students explores the role of the media in democratic societies and examines some of the limitations on free speech and freedom of the press. Through five activities students are challenged to think about the relationships between democracy and the media, media ownership and influence, the role of new media, and truth and responsibility in the media.

Educational details

Educational value
  • Students arrive at a definition of the term 'media' in the introductory activity. They are required to identify types of media with which they interact and to reflect on the positive and negative ways the media influences their view of the world.
  • In the first investigation students are asked to consider the work of the media in countries where 'freedom of the press' is not guaranteed. In some societies the media operates under severe limitations and journalists may fear for their lives if they report unfavourably on governments or powerful individuals. Students discuss the relationship between the freedom of speech enjoyed by the media and the extent to which a society can be said to be democratic.
  • Students examine who owns the media they use for the second investigation. Media ownership is a factor that might influence the information available to consumers, and students consider whether concentration or diversity of ownership matters in a democracy. They are asked to discuss how the emergence of 'new media' has changed the debate regarding concentration and diversity.
  • In the third investigation students consider truth, responsible reporting and accountability in the media, and their implications in a democracy. They examine instances of inaccurate or false reporting and consider whether these undermine their faith in the media. Students discuss the ethics of journalism and consider how to judge the veracity of reports in the media.
  • The two case studies in the final investigation focus on what constitutes a legitimate restriction of free speech. Students examine the issue of internet search-engine filtering in China and debate the implications of such restrictions for democracy. They then look at the controversy surrounding the publication of cartoons containing caricatured impressions of the prophet Mohammed and consider the media's responsibility in relation to cultural or religious issues.
Year level

8; 9

Learning area
  • Studies of society and environment

Other details

  • Contributor
  • Name: Australian Government Department of Education\, Employment and
  • Organization: Australian Government Department of Education\, Employment and
  • Description: Content provider
  • URL:
  • Name: Education Services Australia
  • Organization: Education Services Australia
  • Description: Data manager
  • Copyright Holder
  • Name: Commonwealth of Australia
  • Organization: Commonwealth of Australia
  • Publisher
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Description: Publisher
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
  • Resource metadata contributed by
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
Access profile
  • Colour independence
  • Device independence
  • Hearing independence
Learning Resource Type
  • Online
  • © Education Services Australia Ltd, 2013, except where indicated under Acknowledgements.