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TPS Quarterly

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From the “Unsinkable” to the Unthinkable: Analyzing Historic News Coverage of the Titanic


Students activate their background knowledge of the Titanic disaster before analyzing the front page of The New York Evening World newspaper’s April 15, 1912 final edition. Using this historic newspaper’s subsequent front page coverage of the tragedy, students consider, “Which is more important to the Evening World in 1912: selling newspapers or reporting accurate information?” They discuss their findings and the historical context before writing letters to the editor from a reader’s perspective in 1912 to explain why they would or would not continue to buy the Evening World based on its Titanic front page coverage.


After completing this learning activity, students will be able to:

  • Analyze a primary source
  • Define the phrase, “yellow journalism”
  • Express an opinion based on evidence from primary sources
  • Write a fictional letter from a historical perspective using primary source findings

Time Required

Two 45-minute class periods.

Recommended Grade Range



News, Journalism & Advertising


Language Arts


Standards & Benchmarks

Language Arts

Standard 2. Understands the historical perspective


Standard 4. (Writing) Gathers and uses information for research purposes
Standard 7. (Reading) Uses reading skills and strategies to understand and interpret a variety of informational texts
Standard 10. (Media) Understands the characteristics and components of the media


Adapted from “Titanic News,” a lesson plan created by Betsy Mecham, Canton High School, Canton, IL.

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