Activity 1c: The Role of the Media

The Freedom Riders used the media to highlight to the Australian public the discrimination which existed against Aboriginal people in some rural communities, and to rally support for change. Here students analyse the role of the media in the Freedom Rides campaign and reflect on how the campaign may have been run using instruments of today's media.

Resources Required

Task 1

Organise students into groups to examine the e Resources and investigate the following questions:

  • How did the students gain media attention through the 1965 Freedom Ride?
  • What was the role of the media in informing and influencing the public about the students’ actions during the Freedom Ride?
  • How is the news media today different from what it was in the 1960s?
  • If the Freedom Ride was taking place today, what methods do you think university students would use to communicate their experiences to the public?  

In their groups, students create a headline of up to six words for the newspaper excerpts in the Handout: The 1965 Freedom Rides in the Media.

Ask students to:

  • consider what effect their headline may have on readers
  • identify two or three keywords in their headline that create this effect
  • think of a recent issue or event where ordinary people tried to use the media to change a situation which was unjust. 

Task 2

Students imagine they are organising the 1965 Freedom Ride. Students imagine they are planning a media campaign to promote their action using the instruments of today’s media. Working in groups of 4–5, students discuss and make decisions on the following:

  • What is the purpose of their campaign?
  • What messages do they want to communicate?
  • What actions do they want people to take?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of each different type of media they might use?
  • Which media would they finally choose and how would they use it?

Each group is to produce a media campaign plan to ensure the most effective media exposure possible for their Freedom Ride before presenting it to the whole class.

Students undertake a whole-class debate and discussion. The discussion ends with a vote on which group has conducted ‘the best, most modern media campaign’ – if the Freedom Ride was to be conducted today.

Students consider the following forms of media to include in their campaign:

  • print
    • newspaper: news, letters to the editor and paid advertising
    • leaflets and brochures handed out to the public during the Freedom Ride or distributed in letterbox drops
  • electronic
    • advertising on popular AM and FM radio stations
    • phoning in to talkback radio
    • exposure on evening television news
  • online
    • creating a website to post images, maps, schedules and accounts of the Freedom Ride
    • using Twitter and Facebook to encourage support for Freedom Ride events
    • an email campaign to other student groups
    • creating video news pieces about the Freedom Ride for posting on YouTube.

Activity 1aActivity 1b | Activity 1c | Activity 1d |

People Power Introduction1. Aboriginal Rights

Overview of Activities: Focus Question 1 |  Teacher Information