Maynard's newsroom exercise

Select a news story - illegal immigration, celebrity trial, war in Iraq, etc. Divide the staff into five groups and assign one of the fault lines - race, class, gender, generation, geography - to each group.

Ask each group to discuss the selected story from the point of view of the assigned Fault Line. How would the Fault Line group respond to the story? What perspectives would they bring? What approaches or story ideas develop out of the discussion?

For example, using the story of criminal charges against entertainer Michael Jackson, these are some of the stories that participants came up with:

Generation: Do those over 35, who grew up with the Jackson family, respond differently from the under 35s? Has Jackson really grown up?

Race: Is this a case of "another black man being brought down," as many African Americans felt about the O.J. Simpson case? Is Michael Jackson's support coming from all races?

Class: Are poor families more susceptible to letting their children go to Michael Jackson's Neverland than rich families would be? Does class make a difference in the way parents decide with whom their children can stay?

Gender: Are Jackson's supporters more female than male? Where do the mothers of Jackson's children fit in to custody issues? Is there a societal reaction to men who stay home with children?

Geography: Does the perception of Jackson's guilt vary with parts of the country? Does the national perception of California make a difference?