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The Mason-Dixon Report – Stripping history from the Civil War

It is exactly 150 years since Confederates soldiers in Charleston fired the first salvos on Fort Sumter that began the bloodiest, costliest war America has ever fought.

Here’s a question:

What if a cable news network existed in 1861 to broadcast the events of the day?

I’m not a huge fan of the current news pundits who seem to think that the louder they yell, the more right they become. But I am a huge fan of actual news.

So wouldn’t it be awesome to see what a 24 hour news program and its experts would have looked like in the 1860s? A program with colorful, opinionated pundits in front of the cameras to discuss the ongoing American Civil War? A news show with eyewitness reporters in the field to cover the human drama playing out in the halls of power, on the streets and on the battlefields.

I think it would look something like the Mason-Dixon Report.

The Mason-Dixon Report provides a very realistic take on what the news might have looked and sounded like as the war unfolded. Students often think that events in the past happened the way they did because . . . well, because that’s the way it was supposed to happen.

The Mason-Dixon Report seems like a great way to show students that history, as it happens, is not set in stone. You get historically accurate information, presented as if the events just took place. The clips are short, easy to use and generate student conversations. As one set of teenagers asked after watching a series of clips:

What happens next?

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2 Comments Post a comment
  1. What a great idea! I currently have my students write in tea-stained journal from the perspective of a role-play character. I can see the added power in having representatives of the North and South debate “current” issues in the style you suggest.

    Thanks for that!
    Janet |

    September 14, 2011
    • glennw #

      I think the site looks very cool. Curious how look it will continue to create videos. Hopefully through the next few years as the “recreated” Civil War plays itself out.

      Thanks for the comment!


      September 14, 2011

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