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Practice scenarios: Press freedom, libel, copyright, privacy, FOIA, privilege


These scenarios serve as review for some of the information in the slideshows: Press Freedoms, Libel, Copyright, Invasion of Privacy, Freedom of Information Act and Reporter’s Privilege. Students will apply what they’ve learned in the SPLC slideshows to several scholastic journalism scenarios that could easily happen in a high school setting. These scenarios should help students review what they’ve learned, apply the information and retain the legal information. For an extension, teachers could also include real-world situations that are in the news (if applicable).


  • Students will use the information learned so far in the unit to analyze several scenarios.
  • Students will use case law to prove their ideas.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA.W.11-12.1a Introduce precise, knowledgeable claim(s), establish the significance of the claim(s), distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and create an organization that logically sequences claim(s), counterclaims, reasons, and evidence.
CCSS.ELA.W.11-12.1b Develop claim(s) and counterclaims fairly and thoroughly, supplying the most relevant evidence for each while pointing out the strengths and limitations of both in a manner that anticipates the audience’s knowledge level, concerns, values, and possible biases.


50 minutes


Handout: Legal scenarios

Rubric: Legal scenarios

Answer key: Legal scenarios

Lesson step-by-step

1. Introduction — 5 minutes

Ask students to provide what the topics of the past few days of lecture have included (ex: Libel, Copyright, Invasion of Privacy, etc.).

2. Small student groups — 30 minutes

Students should form groups of no more than four students. Students should discuss each scenario and use what they’ve learned in their points. Each group should have a recorder who writes down what the group discusses and decides. Remind them to use their notes and fully analyze each scenario. Tell them you will randomly grade their answers to one of the scenarios. The notes should be complete enough that someone else could easily understand and present their notes.

3. Large groups — 10 minutes

Ask student groups to exchange papers. Each group then presents the ideas of the other group. Different groups should lead each scenario while other groups further the discussion by adding more points to the discussion.

4. Last chance — 5 minutes

Each group gets this time to fill in any gaps they learned about during the presentations. Scenario answers are due at the end of the hour.

5. Evaluation — 0 class time

Teacher randomly grades one of each groups’ written scenarios.