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for Grades 5-8

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For Grades 5-8 , week of Apr 15, 2024

1. QUESTION OF ETHICS

NBC News Group is one of the most prominent news organizations in the United States, overseeing NBC’s national and local news affiliates, CNBC, MSNBC, and Telemundo. However, the organization is now under question for potential ethical concerns and conflicts of interest. The chairman of the group, Cesar Conde, is also on the corporate boards of Walmart and PepsiCo, putting him in paid positions for three of the country’s largest corporations. While there is no evidence that this has had any effect on news coverage of the other two corporations by NBC or its affiliates, critics have raised questions of whether it goes against journalism’s staunch ethics about conflicts of interest in stories, even when that conflict is only perceived. “Perception can be as important as an actual conflict,” reporter David Bauder says in an Associated Press story about Conde’s role. Why do you think it’s important for journalists to maintain strict ethics about conflicts of interest? Do you think it matters if the conflict is real, or is it just as important if it looks like there could be a conflict from the perspective of the reader? Write an opinion article about the issue, incorporating Cesar Conde’s role at NBC into your article.

2. DISS TRACK

Rapper J. Cole is apologizing for a track on his new album, “Might Delete Later,” where he slammed Kendrick Lamar. A feud between the two started in October when J. Cole and Drake called themselves plus Lamar the “big three” of hip-hop in a song. Last month, Lamar had a guest verse in a song where he rapped that there was no big three, “just big me.” J. Cole then dropped his surprise new album that included a diss track aimed at Lamar, but just two days later, apologized for the new song. Onstage at his Dreamville Festival in Raleigh, North Carolina, J. Cole said the track didn’t “sit right with my spirit” and called Lamar one of the greatest to ever use a microphone. He vowed to change the track or remove it from steaming services. Do you think the feud between the rappers is genuine or created for publicity? Write a paragraph that explains your take and discuss with your classmates.

3. INTERPRETER IN TROUBLE

Weeks after Japanese baseball star Shohei Ohtani’s interpreter. Ippei Mizuhara, was arrested, he was charged in federal court for bank fraud. He’s accused of embezzling $16 million from Ohtani to cover his own gambling debts. Ohtani is Major League Baseball’s highest-paid player after he signed a 10-year, $700 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Mizuhara took millions from an account that he’d helped Ohtani set up and used it for an illegal sports gambling operation. There’s no evidence that Ohtani knew what Mizuhara was doing and he has maintained that he’s never bet on baseball and was not involved in any illegal activities. Mizuhara could face up to 30 years in prison if convicted. If you had the opportunity to interview Ohtani (with an interpreter), write down at least 10 questions you would ask him to write an article about the situation while being respectful of what he’s going through.

4. STRIVING FOR SAFETY

A new bill introduced in Congress would require bill changes from the Department of Defense to prevent brain injuries for soldiers. The Blast Overpressure Safety Act would include several new requirements to limit and track troops’ exposure to shock waves created by their own weapons in training and combat. New research has shown that repeated exposure to these blasts can cause brain injuries and lead to devastating mental effects, which are often misdiagnosed as behavioral issues. The new law would require the Pentagon to adapt their current weapons to be safer for troops and consider these effects when acquiring new weapons, record blast exposure on an individual level, and give regular neurocognitive tests to exposed troops. It would also require the Government Accountability Office to audit what steps the military is taking and whether the problem is adequately being addressed. Using your newspaper or online research, write an article that summarizes the facts in this story and what will happen next for the bill.

5. DIARY THIEF SENTENCED

Florida woman Aimee Harris was sentenced last week to one month in prison for her part in a plot to steal the diary of President Biden’s daughter, Ashley, and sell it to right-wing group Project Veritas. The 41-year-old woman sold the diary for $40,000 weeks before the 2020 presidential election; as part of her sentencing, she was required to pay back the money she earned from the sale. She claimed that the diary had been discarded at a friend’s house, but prosecutors said that Ashley Biden had left it with other personal items to store at the house when it was stolen by Harris. Ashley had kept the diary when she was recovering from drug addiction. Evidence in the case showed that Harris intended to not only profit from the diary but use it to hurt President Biden’s chances of being elected by having the contents publicized by Project Veritas. Consider the implications for not only Ashley Biden’s personal privacy but also the presidential election in this story. Write an article that summarizes the story and how the people involved could have been affected.