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For Grades 9-12 , week of Nov. 13, 2023

1. DEEPFAKE ELECTION

Ahead of the 2024 election, many are concerned about the presence of AI in political campaigns, particularly that AI will be used to create images or videos of candidates to mislead voters. To help with this and to stop people from falling for misinformation, Meta announced a policy to label political ads that use AI-created images. The labels will appear whenever a user clicks on an ad about any social issue, political candidate, or election that includes a realistic picture of a person or event made using AI. Still, some experts say this isn’t enough to keep AI imagery from spreading misinformation during the election season. Look up some examples of AI-generated imagery that’s already been used in political campaigns (hint: the Republican National Convention and Ron DeSantis’ campaign have both used AI imagery). Consider whether you would know if these were fake without a label or watermark to tell you. Using online research, write an article that would educate readers on the presence of AI imagery and suggest ways they can identify it or verify what they’re seeing is true.

2. DEBATE DEBUNKED

The third Republican debate took place last week, with former President Donald Trump once again absent from the stage. The five candidates in attendance were Chris Christie, Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, Vivek Ramaswamy, and Tim Scott. Some of the statements made were misleading, if not downright false. From the statements made during the debate that were factchecked by the New York Times, DeSantis was the worst offender with four misleading statements and one that was outright false. Scott followed with three misleading statements, one false, and one that needed context, and Haley after that with one each for misleading, false, and needing further context. The only statements factchecked and regarded as true were one from Haley and one from Ramaswamy. What does that say about the information being communicated to voters during the debates? Are the debates a time when voters should be learning information or is it more about seeing a candidate conduct themselves and interact with their opponents? Write an opinion piece based on your answers.

3. MIDTERM MOMENT

Midterm elections took place last week with several big wins for Democrats. Suburban Republicans were a key turning point, rejecting their party’s candidates in favor of left-leaning policies. Ohioans voted to codify the right to abortion in their state’s constitution. Virginia flipped Democratic in both chambers of the state’s General Assembly; additionally, Virginians elected the South’s first transgender state senator, Danica Roem. Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, a Democrat, won reelection in his very Republican state. And finally, a Biden administration aide, Gabe Amo, will be the first Black representative from Rhode Island with his election to the House of Representatives. Consider what political reporting looks like during an Election Day. Read examples of midterm election coverage from at least three different sources and write down the key similarities and differences you notice.

4. ELECTION OFFICE ATTACKS

Election offices in at least five states were sent suspicious letters this week, some of which containing the lethal drug fentanyl. The arrival of such letters delayed the counting of ballots during some midterm elections. Four election offices in Washington were evacuated after they received envelopes containing powders, at least one of which was positive for fentanyl. Two other Washington election offices received suspicious envelopes, while the US Postal Service intercepted two suspicious envelopes destined for election offices in Los Angeles and Sacramento. Authorities were also working to intercept a letter targeting Fulton County, Georgia, which includes Atlanta. They’re still investigating who may have sent the letters. Write down who you would interview for this story, including the questions you would ask them, and the angle you would tell this story from.

5. PAUSES IN EFFECT

Following pressure from President Biden to arrange a cease-fire, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to daily four-hour pauses in the fighting in Gaza to allow civilians time to escape the embattled region. The pauses will be announced at lest three hours in advance and civilians will have a second route to escape the areas under heavy attack as Israel strikes back against the militant group Hamas. Biden also pressed for a multi-day pause for hostage negotiations, as more than 200 people are still held by Hamas after their attack on Israel October 7. Read more about the pauses in fighting and the current diplomacy efforts as other countries try to negotiate a cease-fire. In a brief article, summarize the efforts made by other countries to negotiate between Israel and Hamas and how effective those attempts have been thus far.