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CNN Classroom Edition: Chasing Angelina

  • Story Highlights
  • Students will examine how media feeds the public's obsession with celebrities
  • Students will discuss ethical questions raised by the media's coverage of celebrities
  • Students will analyze the reasons for the public's obsession with celebrities
  • Students will evaluate the impact of the media's coverage of celebrities on society
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(CNN Student News) -- Record the CNN Presents Classroom Edition: Chasing Angelina -- Paparazzi & Celebrity Obsession when it airs commercial-free on Monday, February 11, 2008, from 4:00 -- 5:00 a.m. ET on CNN. (A short feature begins at 4:00 a.m. and precedes the program.)

Program Overview

How far is too far to go for news of the stars' lives? Who is to blame for celebrity obsession? For Chasing Angelina -- Paparazzi & Celebrity Obsession, CNN talks to all sides of the celebrity media maze, including paparazzi agencies, publicists, celebrity magazine editors and gossip reporters, photographers, and celebrities themselves, so that viewers can decide for themselves.

Warning to Educators: Please preview this program as it contains language that might be inappropriate for your students.

Grade Levels: 10-12, College

Subject Areas: Media Studies, Language Arts, Current Issues, Communications

Objectives: The CNN Presents Classroom Edition: Chasing Angelina -- Paparazzi & Celebrity Obsession and its corresponding discussion questions and activity challenge students to:

  1. Examine how different media feed the public's obsession with celebrities;
  2. Discuss ethical questions raised by the media's coverage of celebrities;
  3. Analyze the reasons for the public's obsession with celebrities;
  4. Evaluate the impact of the media's coverage of celebrities on society.

Curriculum Connections

Language Arts

Standard 10. Understands the characteristics and components of the media

Level IV [Grade 9-12]

Benchmark 1. Understands that media messages have economic, political, social, and aesthetic purposes

Benchmark 2. Understands how different media (e.g., documentaries, current affairs programs, web pages) are structured to present a particular subject or point of view

Benchmark 8. Understands the extent to which audience influences media production

Benchmark 10. Understands the influence of media on society as a whole

Benchmark 11. Understands legal and ethical responsibilities involved in media use

McREL: Science Standards and Benchmarks Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education (Copyright 2000 McREL) is published online by Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL ) (http://www.mcrel.org/standards-benchmarks/), 2550 S. Parker Road, Suite 500, Aurora, CO 80014; Telephone: 303/337-0990.

Career Education: Arts and Communication

Standard 4. Understands ways in which the human experience is transmitted and reflected in the arts and communication

Level IV [Grade 9-12]

Benchmark 4. Knows ways in which various media forms throughout history (e.g., broadsheets, photography, newspapers, news broadcasts) have reflected or conveyed human events

McREL: Science Standards and Benchmarks Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education (Copyright 2000 McREL) is published online by Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL ) (http://www.mcrel.org/standards-benchmarks/), 2550 S. Parker Road, Suite 500, Aurora, CO 80014; Telephone: 303/337-0990.

Discussion Questions

1. What are celebrities? Who comes to mind when you hear the word celebrity? What makes these people celebrities?

2. Who do you think are the audiences for celebrity tabloid television programs, magazines and Internet sites? What information about celebrities do these audiences seek? Why do you think that the public seeks out this information? What purposes do these celebrity media outlets serve?

3. To what extent do you think that celebrities, as portrayed by the media, influence U.S. society? To what extent do you think that celebrities, as portrayed by the media, influence you?

4. Based on what you learned in the program, what role does each of the following play in making or breaking celebrities: publicists, media, paparazzi, consumers, celebrities themselves? Do you think that the paparazzi, the media and fame all go hand in hand? Explain.

5. Would you describe the coverage of celebrities as journalism? Should there be any boundaries regarding how the press covers celebrities? Do celebrities have the right to privacy? Do you think that it is possible to balance the freedoms of speech and the press with the right to privacy? Explain your answers.

6. In your view, does society pay too much attention to the personal lives of celebrities? Do you think that celebrity obsession is best described as harmless escapism, glorified gossip, voyeurism, or an unhealthy obsession? State your rationale.

7. How are the prices of celebrity photos determined? Who makes or loses money in the "celebrity industry"? How do the forces of supply and demand fuel the tabloid industry?

8. Define the following terms: damage control, spin, tabloid, paparazzi, snarking and blog. In what positive or negative context is each of these terms used in the program?

9. How has the immediacy and anonymity of the Internet altered the dynamics of celebrity coverage? Are the news media acting in the best interests of the public by giving them more of what they want? Explain.

Suggested Activities

Pose the following question to students: If aliens from another planet were to examine our celebrity media to learn about the United States, what conclusions would they make about our culture?

Have students imagine that they are visitors from another planet. Direct them to examine a variety of celebrity media resources. Then, based on what they see and read, challenge them to evaluate the characteristics of America, such as beliefs and values, personal appearance, lifestyles, customs, family life, and financial priorities. Have them present their findings in reports (print, audio, video, interactive/online) to be delivered to their planet's leader.

Following the students' presentations, discuss as a class whether or not the reports are accurate reflections of American culture and values. Use the following questions to guide the discussion:

  1. What characteristics would you use to describe American culture? How does your understanding of American culture compare with the version depicted in celebrity media? How do you account for the similarities or differences in the two versions?
  2. To what extent does the media's coverage of celebrities reflect U.S. culture? To what extent does it influence U.S. culture?

Keywords

paparazzi, celebrity, salacious, snarking, weeklies, publicists, damage control, spin, entourage, scandal, tabloid, blog E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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