If It Bleeds, It Leads


People who watch fear-based news media are more likely to feel that their neighbourhoods and communities are unsafe, believe that crime rates are rising, overestimate their odds of becoming a victim, and consider the world to be a dangerous place.

After decades of research, media theorist George Gerbner shared these insights about the impacts of news media, more true today than ever before. Tune into any news channel and it won’t be long before you’re exposed to highly constructed and often voyeuristic visions of violence, crime, disaster and danger that can shape your view of the world. Why do journalists fall over themselves to scoop a story with shock value and why does the public eat it up? How can we spot and become less susceptible to the powerful influence of negative news stories? Aimed at developing their critical thinking skills, this discussion-filled workshop will get students talking about the history and science behind media sensationalism and its long-term sociological implications.

Learning Objectives:

1.    Identify and deconstruct sensationalistic media packaging and understand how and why our brains respond so strongly to it.
2.    Examine the historical evolution of violence on screen as censorship laws have changed with new societal tastes and increasing thresholds for violent content.
3.    Define “hero,” “anti-hero,” and “villain” in the context of the news, and discuss their role in literature and media throughout history.

[Media Literacy Workshop designed by Hayley Gauvin]