To teach news propaganda, you may wish to screen War Made Easy. Norman Soloman takes viewers through the most recent Iraq War, as seen through news coverage, and makes many connections to the propaganda machines of the United States’ past. Solomon is very blunt about his opinion that this propaganda machine has lead to many, many deaths overseas.
I pair the screening with these discussion questions.
As a teacher, you should be prepared for students to be visibly upset after watching this documentary. The production effects leave the viewer feeling rather hopeless about the future of U.S. journalism and war politics. When I walk to the front of the classroom after the screening, students look dazed and slack-jawed. One student told me, “that was the most depressing thing I have ever seen.” You should explain to students before you screen this that it is a very emotional documentary, especially for veterans and their family and friends. You should also be prepared for a debate to erupt between students about the necessity of war.
You may have students take a break after the screening, have them write down their thoughts for a few minutes, or discuss the film during your next class period.
You may wish to have students read some version of The Propaganda Model by Herman and Chomsky in tangent with this documentary. There are many parallels, despite the dated material by Herman and Chomsky.