CNN CNN

INSIDE CNN ATLANTA TOUR: EDUCATOR GUIDE


Note to Educators: The following questions and activities are suggestions for enriching your upcoming Inside CNN Atlanta Tour. The materials are organized into Before, During and After the Trip sections, and they will help focus student learning on the elements of the tour that will best connect to your educational goals and objectives. For your convenience, After the Trip activities are divided into elementary, middle and high school sections, and they are linked to National Standards in the subject areas of social studies, language arts/journalism and technology. We hope that you and your students enjoy the Inside CNN Atlanta Tour and that you continue to bring the world of CNN into your classroom every day!

Before the Tour


Discussion Questions
  1. What is CNN? What do the letters CNN stand for? When did CNN first go on the air? Who started CNN?
  2. How do you learn about current events? What types of news programs or networks appeal to you?
  3. Do you think that it is important to learn about people and events in the news in the United States and around the world? Explain.
  4. How do you think that the presentation of the news might differ among various media formats, such as television, the Internet, newspaper, newsmagazines, radio or cell phones?
  5. Why do you think that some news stories make it onto television or the Web while others do not? Who do you think makes those decisions?
  6. What are some of the stories in the news this week? What information would you like to learn about these stories?
  7. How do you think that 24-hour global coverage of people and events has affected our world?


Activity Suggestions

  1. Preparing Questions
    • Have students create KWL charts - what they Know about CNN, what they Want to know about CNN, and what they Learned on the tour of CNN. Students may use this chart to create a list of questions to ask on the tour.
      OR
    • Distribute the Student Handout: Tour Itinerary/Preparing Questions to students. This handout presents the Inside CNN Atlanta Tour itinerary with space for students to write questions or information that they want to learn about on the tour.

  2. Talk the Talk: To help familiarize students with the media terms they will hear on the CNN tour, distribute the Student Handout: Glossary of Terms and review the terms and phrases used in the news media business. Have students create bingo boards prior to the tour that note the words in the Glossary of Terms, such as router, monitor, bug, TelePrompTer and font. As they hear these terms mentioned on the Inside CNN Atlanta Tour, students can mark them off on their bingo boards with markers or stickers. In order to win, students will need to be able to define or explain the terms in context.

  3. Control Room Jargon: Print out a copy of the Student Handout: Control Room Jargon. Cut up each of the sayings (without definitions) into separate slips of paper, and distribute one slip of paper to each student. Have students guess the translations for their sayings and share their predictions with the class. Encourage class members to make additional suggestions. Then, distribute the jargon definitions to students. During the tour, have the students listen for these terms in the appropriate context. After the tour, have student groups write scripts that simulate the dialogue that might take place in the CNN control room.

  4. Background Information: Distribute to students the Student Handout: Ted Turner. Discuss with students what might have motivated Mr. Turner to take the risks that he did. Ask: What contributions did Ted Turner and CNN make to Georgia, the U.S. and the international community? Have students create mind maps or graphic organizers that illustrate the many impacts that CNN and Ted Turner have had on the news and information industry, on the way that we receive and respond to our information and on the global society.

  5. Planning the Trip Route: Challenge students to map out their trip to CNN Center, noting the mileage, highways, side streets, cross-sections and alternate routes. Have students consult bus and train schedules to help create an itinerary for the field trip.

During the Tour


Note to Educators: You may want to use one of the following strategies to help students gather information and focus their attention on the Inside CNN Atlanta Tour. Encourage students to ask questions and seek answers at each stop on the tour. Inform them that they will need to listen carefully as the CNN tour guides cover a great deal of information in a short period of time.
  1. Student Handout: Tour Itinerary/Preparing Questions This is a rough itinerary of the Inside CNN Atlanta Tour. You may want to review this itinerary with the students, and have them develop questions for each stop along the tour. You may choose instead to use the Student Handout: Tour Itinerary/Discussion Questions, which makes suggestions for what students can consider at each stop on the tour.
  2. Student Handout: "Were You Listening?" Scavenger Hunt Distribute this list of questions and tasks to students and have them search for the answers on the tour. You may want to organize students into teams to provide added motivation.
  3. Bingo This activity is to be used with the Student Handout: Glossary of Terms. You may choose to create boards with 16 or 25 boxes for older students. Have students randomly place the terms in the boxes, and have them listen for the terms on the tour.
  4. KWL Chart Refer students to the list of questions that they generated in the Before the Trip section of this guide, and challenge them to find the answers to these questions while on the tour.

After the Tour



Discussion Questions
  1. What is journalism? Why do you think that journalism is often referred to as a "first rough draft" of history?
  2. How does broadcast news coverage of events compare with how those events might be covered in textbooks or history books?
  3. What opportunities and challenges do you think that reporters and producers face when reporting the news 24 hours a day, 7 days a week?
  4. How are news stories reported on the various CNN networks, programs and media, such as online, cell phones or PDAs? How might the format or the media affect the message of the story?
  5. What are some of the changes in technology that have taken place since WWII? How have these changes affected the news media?
  6. How does the immediacy of news journalism today compare with historical reporting and recording of events?
  7. In your view, to what extent, if any, has CNN socially, economically or politically impacted the U.S. and the world?
  8. Do you think that global communication can affect global change? Why or why not? What do you think are some of the possible future effects of global communication?
  9. What impact do you think 24-hour news coverage has had on the way we interact with the world around us?


Activity Suggestions


Elementary School



The following activities correlate with language arts, social studies and technology standards.

  1. Produce a News Report: Have students work in small groups to create news reports that could either air on the school's internal news program or morning announcements, or be published on the school's Web site or in its newspaper. Within each group, students may take on the role of reporter, photographer/cameraperson, writer, producer or graphic artist. Students will need to work with the school's video production unit or Web developers to edit or publish the stories. Topics of news reports could range from school-related functions, such as field trips and festivals, to community-related topics, such as local elections or new building projects. As students develop their stories, have them compare their processes with how stories are produced at CNN.

  2. The First Amendment: Review with students the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Ask: What freedoms does the First Amendment guarantee to U.S. citizens? Why might the people who work at CNN care about this amendment? Do you think that it is important that the press have these freedoms? Why or why not? Do you think that there are any times when the press should have its freedoms taken away? Explain. Have students imagine that they are journalists. Have them describe situations in their jobs in which some people might want to limit their freedom to report.


Middle School



The following activities can be used by both interdisciplinary teams or by individual science or social studies classes.
  1. And Now for the Weather...: Have students work alone or in teams to write and produce 2-3 minute interdisciplinary weather reports. Reports should include scientific references to weather patterns, geographical locations, weather-related news events and mathematical figures, such as average rainfall, humidity percentages and comparisons of temperatures across the country. Based on what they learned on the Inside CNN Atlanta Tour, students should compare how the production of weather reports compares with the newsgathering and production of breaking news events.
  2. Making Timelines: Have students recall some of the key national and international events that have taken place since 1980, the year that CNN was founded. Ask: How do you think that the existence of CNN and 24-hour cable news coverage may have affected the course of any of those events? Organize students into groups, and have each group select what it thinks are the top ten events covered by CNN since its launch. Challenge students to create standard timelines or online presentations that illustrate how CNN's coverage of the events may have impacted society's interaction with and reaction to the events.

High School - Language Arts/Journalism



  1. Newsgathering and Production: Discuss with students what they learned on the tour about CNN's newsgathering and production processes. Encourage students to select topics that interest them, and have them work in small groups or individually to write scripts for 2-3 minute news segments to air on TV. To accompany their scripts, students should write brief paragraphs explaining the purpose of their segments, the intended audiences, how they might research their story, potential interviews and how they would want to present the story on air. Have students create visual storyboards to represent their news stories, with each image in the storyboard supported by its own "copy" or text.
  2. What's Your Media?: Have students consider how news stories might be presented on air and on the Web. Direct them to CNN.com to retrieve and review show transcripts and news articles on the same topic. Ask: What are the similarities and differences in the storytelling techniques? What information is included or omitted in each version? What are some of the features and benefits of each form of media? Have students select stories about school or local community events, and have them consider how their stories could be presented across multiple media and formats. Have them write brief proposals that describe how they would tell their stories on air, online, on cell phones or PDAs, in news magazines, newspapers or in a long format documentary-style program.
  3. Evaluating Messages: Refer students to CNN, CNN Headline News or CNN.com to find stories that interest them. Organize students into small groups and have them evaluate these stories using the following questions:
    • What is the story about? When and where did the story occur? Why and how did the event occur?
    • What is the headline or the lead-in to the story?
    • What images or video are used? What do the images add to the story?
    • Is the story presented in a balanced way? How do you know? Does it provide multiple perspectives?
    • Is the story subjective or objective? How do you know?
    • What information is included in or omitted from the story? Why do you think these choices were made?
    • How do the medium and the format in which the story is presented impact your reaction to it?
    After groups present their findings, have the class develop a list of criteria for evaluating the messages and effects of news stories.
  4. Who's Your Audience?: Have students list some of the programs that are produced by CNN. Encourage students to learn more about the formats of the programs on http://www.cnn.com/CNN/Programs/. Ask: How do the purpose, audiences, style, content and presentation compare among the various shows? Give examples. Next, have students brainstorm the design of a news program that is written and produced for students. Ask: What would the show look like? What editorial or visual elements would you include? Then, present the class with CNN's news program for students called CNN Student News, which airs on CNN Headline News at 3:12am/ET and is streamed on http://www.CNN.com/EDUCATION. Have students watch the show, and compare it to their own ideas. Afterwards, compile their thoughts and send them to the CNN Student News producers via the "Contact Us" link on www.CNN.com/EDUCATION.
  5. Be the Anchor!: Have students try their hands at being a "CNN anchor" at the mock CNN Anchor Desk following the Inside CNN Atlanta Tour. Once back in the classroom, students can analyze their tapes to see if they used their voices effectively (volume, rate, clarity and inflection) and nonverbal signs appropriately (gestures, eye contact, facial expression and posture). Discuss with students some of the challenges that anchors may face as they report the news.

High School - Technology



  1. Taking Inventory: A day or two before the Inside CNN Atlanta Tour, invite your school's television news production group or the school's newspaper editors to speak to your class about how they gather and produce the news for their programs or publications. While on the Inside CNN Atlanta Tour, have students look for the processes that are in place at CNN for gathering and producing the news for television. Ask: What technologies are used by the news media? What role does technology play in how the public experiences the news? Have students write proposals to purchase the technologies and resources that they would need to broadcast live news reports 24/7 from their school's news studio.
  2. Local Historical Reporting: Encourage students to visit a local museum or library to research news events that happened in their community or state. Assign pairs or small groups of students one event or time period, and encourage them to find photographs, print articles, radio clips or video reports depicting their assigned events. Challenge students to research the technologies that the reporters at the time had available (e.g., pony express, printing press, telegraph, photography, radio, video, satellite, Internet, etc.). Students should consider the strengths and limitations of each type of technology for reporting the news. Ask: How does technology available impact how historical events are recorded? Has the technology used in gathering local and state news paralleled that used in national or international news reporting? Explain.
  3. Back to the Future: Challenge students to imagine that they are correspondents covering a breaking news event ten years from now. Have each student write a news report on that event. In their reports, have students describe the technologies used to file their reports and how that technology might affect the reporting, as well as how the audience experiences and learns about the event. Ask: With the advent of these new technologies, how do you think that television coverage of future news events will be impacted? What do you see as the advantages and disadvantages of technology in news coverage?

High School - Social Studies



  1. If CNN had been there...: Have students list some of the historical events that they have been studying in class. Ask: What if CNN reporters had been there to cover those events? Challenge students to imagine that they are CNN reporters who lived at the time the events occurred. Have students work alone or in groups, and have them write fictional news stories depicting one of the events for air on CNN. For example, if students are learning about the Civil War, they can write a series of reports from the different battle sites. If the topic is immigration, students can produce a story from Ellis Island. When learning about Native Americans, students can report the Battle of Little Bighorn, interviewing both General Custer and Chief Sitting Bull. As they develop their stories, have students consider the following questions:
    • How might CNN's presence have changed people's knowledge about the event - at the time it occurred and currently?
    • What might we have learned about the event that was not recorded at the time?
    • What perspectives were recorded at the time of the event? How might the presence of CNN have changed how we learned about the event?
    After students have presented their news stories, discuss whether or not they think that the presence of global news coverage of world events can alter the documentation of history.
  2. Impact of the News Media: Refer students to the opening "globe" exhibit in which interactive kiosks display video of the many events covered by CNN since its 1980 launch. Have each student select one of these events, and have him or her conduct research on how the event was reported by the news media. As students present their findings, compile the topics into a post-1980 timeline. After student presentations are complete, discuss the roles the news media played in the telling of the events. Direct your students to debate whether or not the knowledge provided by the news media may have affected the course of these events.

    As an extension, have students analyze the list of events and make generalizations about the impact that communications technology has had on recent events in U.S. and world history.
  3. A Shrinking World: Organize students into groups, and assign each group one of the following regions of the world: Europe, Asia, Middle East, Americas and Africa. Based on what the students learned on the tour, have groups identify some of the CNN bureaus located in their assigned regions. Refer students to CNN.com, and have groups identify the news stories being reported by CNN correspondents in these regions. Direct the groups to write 2-3 minute scripts summarizing the top news stories in their regions. As groups present their scripts, list those events that students would want to include in a 3-5 minute "Around the World This Week" segment. Then, use the following questions to guide a class discussion:
    • How might the types of news stories from these regions differ from the types of news stories that are covered in the United States?
    • Do you think that it is important that people living in one region of the world be knowledgeable about events happening in other regions? Why or why not?
    • What do you think is meant by the term "shrinking world"? Do you think that CNN has contributed to a "shrinking world"? Why or why not?