Exercise 1.5. Telephone game (Chinese whispers)

The participants tell a story they heard to one another exactly in a way as it is in children’s game (Telephone Game or Chinese Whisper). They learn how to obtain additional information from other sources.



To realize how important is to know the source of information and how easy it is, especially under time pressure, to forget to tell a very important detail and thus mislead people around you and contribute to spreading rumors.


20 min


Team work

Material needed

Overhead projector, loudspeakers. This exercise may be performed without the technical equipment: in such a case, after the completion of the exercise the participants are distributed the text or a trainer reads the text.

Source: MediaNavigator.org

Task: The trainer asks the participants to form groups of 3-5 people. One group stays in the class while others leave it. The trainer reads a text to the group that stayed in the class and asks them to retell the heard story in 60 seconds (counts the time).

The rest of the participants are invited to the audience and the group that received the information from the “original source” recounts the story. The second group tells it to the third group, the third group to the fourth, and so on.

The last group tells the “story in detail” to the entire audience. Participants learn what has remained from the original story after retelling it four times.

The trainer reads/shows the “report” on the screen and leads discussion on the topic as to why not only an editorial staff but media consumers should seek several sources of information.

Questions for participants:

  1. Why is it better to see once than hear a hundred times?
  2. Is information lost when it is conveyed and how?
  3. How does media change/miss information when rewriting texts from each other?
  4. Why is the identified source better than an anonymous source? How to check the accuracy of the sources?

After the discussion, the trainer can draw attention to the fact that the participants could write down the story and verify the information (as a rule, this does not happen during the game). In the end, the trainer tells the participants that the plot of “War of the Worlds” by Herbert Wells was used as the original source (see supporting material).

Tips for the trainer: Before the exercise prepare the text of the report (print out or prepare for showing on the screen).

It is important to explain to the participants that even a reliable source (any publication or TV channel, a famous reporter or expert) may, for various reasons, distort information or be misled. A media literate consumer should pay attention to whether the journalist relies on sources, what sources they are, and what their origin is. Remember that identified source is always better than an “informed source” and an “anonymous source”. If doubts arise with regard to a source, it is necessary to search for other sources and find out, for example, whether an identical story has been reported by other news agencies and other media (and which ones in particular).

Download Supporting material 2
Download Supporting material 3