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Page last updated at 09:15 GMT, Thursday, 4 August 2011 10:15 UK

This pick and mix section allows teachers to create bespoke lessons by picking activities and resources

This page has now been updated - you can find the new version here

A School Report writes in a notebook


This page contains a collection of videos, guides, activities and quizzes about what makes a story newsworthy and where to find news.

We would value your feedback on the resources
Email or fill out the form at the foot of this page to get in touch
And if you have any suggestions about how to improve the classroom activities or ideas for new exercises, we'd love to hear from you!

You can choose which resources are the most appropriate for your pupils and classroom. We've called it a pick and mix - so you can read through and select the materials that best fit in with your plans.

Please note that all times for activities are approximate and will depend on class size, age, etc.

We also have a special Teacher Essentials section which includes lots of extra information and advanced resources.

You can also use our updated lesson plans if you prefer a more structured approach.



When it comes to working out what stories to cover, it can help to get right down to basics: what actually makes something "news"?

And once you have a grasp of that, where can you start looking for stories that will be of interest to your audience?

Sources of potential news are everywhere: newspapers, school newsletters, the internet, radio and TV programmes, sporting and cultural events - not to mention your local community, friends, family and personal contacts.

These resources will help you understand what is and isn't a story - and point you in the right direction for where you can look for ideas, inspiration and sources.


Story choices

Journalists and editors have to make informed decisions every day about which stories to cover and how they are going to cover them.

No newspaper, TV programme, radio station or website can cover everything, so judgements have to be made to prioritise the most important news.

These resources will help to sharpen your editorial judgement about what makes a good story, and give you an idea about why stories make the bulletins.


Audience awareness

We all make decisions about where we are going to find out about the news, often without even thinking about it.

Think of the very different approaches of, say, Radio 4's Today programme and Radio 1's Newsbeat , or The Sun and The Daily Telegraph. A story about Lady Gaga's new album, for example, might be big news for Newsbeat's audience - but of limited interest to Today listeners.

Understanding your audience and what will appeal to them is an important part of journalism.

These resources will help to explain the different audiences that consume the news and get you thinking about the type of stories that would be appropriate for your School Report audience.


Video: What is news? (2 mins 30 secs video + 2-3 mins to recap/discuss)

What is news? (duration: 2 mins 30 secs)

BBC newsreader Huw Edwards explains what makes news newsworthy and why truth and accuracy matters so much to journalists.

He also points out why you need to think about your audience and how a journalist is never truly off-duty!


You can recap the key points from the video using the accompanying worksheet, or read a transcript of the video:

A Welsh language version of the video is also available, together with a transcript.

Video: Finding news? (3 mins video + 2-3 mins to recap/discuss)

Finding news? (duration: 3 mins)

BBC newsreader Huw Edwards explains where you can start looking for inspiration for stories to cover in your reports.

And he emphasises the importance of making sure you have reliable sources for your stories.


You can recap the key points from the video using the accompanying worksheet, or read a transcript of the video:

A Welsh language version of the video is also available, together with a transcript.

Video: Finding news masterclass (3 mins video + 2-3 mins to recap/discuss)

School Report's finding news masterclass (duration: 3 mins)

BBC Radio 5 live journalist Karlene Pinnock has to find stories and guests for her programmes every day at work.

With stints on programmes like Newsbeat also on her CV, Karlene is an expert when it comes to the business of finding news and coming up with fresh angles and ideas for existing stories.


Watch Karlene's video to learn her real-life tips for spotting great stories and identifying the best people to talk to about them.

You can recap the key points from the video using the accompanying worksheet or read a transcript of the video:

This video contains references to using social media - aimed at pupils aged 13 and over - which you should check you are happy with before using in the classroom. For advice on using the internet safely, the BBC's online safety pages provide guidance and links to more advice

BBC journalists are increasingly using social media such as Twitter as a way of finding stories, information and ideas.

These sites can be fantastic sources of information but need to be used responsibly, especially by young people.

The BBC Webwise team have some great tips and information about how to use social media safely and responsibly.

Activity: Headline analysis (10 mins)

Compile a list of current news headlines. You may wish to scan the front pages of the BBC News, BBC Local News, Newsbeat, or CBBC Newsround websites, or other news websites, newspapers and school newsletters.

For each story, answer the question: Why is it in the news?

Here's a few examples:

News is essentially something people WANT to know or NEED to know. At the BBC, we say that news that people need to know is "in the public interest".

Activity: Sources and reliability (20 mins)

Work in small groups or as a whole class.

Without referring to books or the internet, try to answer some or all of the following questions:

You can substitute these questions with others if appropriate. The aim is to have questions people think they know the answer to, but often don't!
  • how many individual states are there in the United States?
  • who is the most expensive footballer (in terms of transfer fee) in the history of the Premier League?
  • name the last three winners of X-Factor

Did everybody agree on the same answers? If not, why do you think there were differences? And how did you decide what the right answer is?

Now double check your answers with your teacher or by researching online. Did you get it right?

As journalists, it's vital that you check your facts.

If two people tell you the same story, it's more likely to be true. And you can compare what they said to check how accurate they are. But you still need to think about how reliable the source is - do you trust the source of information?

Remember - just because something is online doesn't mean it's definitely true. What if the person who produced it made a mistake or had a particular reason for bending the truth?

Use sources you trust and check at least two different sources, no matter what the story. Nothing undermines a story more than an inaccuracy.

"Truth and accuracy" are two of the BBC's most important news values - and you need to think about making sure your journalism follows suit.

Activity: News judgement (10 mins)

Using this worksheet, put a tick next to the headlines you think are the genuine news stories - and a cross next to the headlines that aren't news.

Why did you choose the stories you did?

What do you think the key ingredients of a good story are?

Can your group or class agree on the most important elements of a good story?

Activity: BBC News cards (20 mins)

Work in pairs or larger groups if appropriate.

The final card in the PDF is left blank, to be filled out with your school's plans for School Report

For this activity, you will need to print off and cut out a set of BBC News cards for each group.

The objective of the exercise is to decide which audience different news programmes are aimed at and gain an understanding of what that means for your work with School Report.

A reads out the content of their card.

B listens and then writes down a description - or even a representative drawing - of the typical person who would watch or listen to that programme. How old would they be? What sort of interests might they have? What type of music would they enjoy? What kind of job would they have? etc

A and B can discuss the results and then swap roles, before writing out a similar card for the school's School Report content. Don't worry if you can't fill in every box.

What audience is likely to be reading/watching/listening to your output?

And what does that mean in terms of how you approach stories and which stories you cover?

Activity: News programmes and services (15 mins)

Work in pairs.

Think of all the places you can access the news: TV, radio, websites, newspapers and any other sources. Which, if any, do you access or like?

Discuss why it is you get your news from that place.

What is it about the programme or service that appeals to you? Is there anything you would change?

What types of news do you find interesting? Which presenters do you like?

Now, bearing in mind what you've just talked about, think about what topics your "dream" news service or programme would cover. Perhaps it would be sport, music, politics or international news? How would you like it to be laid out or presented?

Would it be a TV or radio programme? Or perhaps a newspaper, magazine or blog?

Get together with another pair and compare ideas.

Activity: Guess the audience (10 mins)

The audience is the listeners of a radio programme, the viewers of a television programme or the users of a website.

The front pages of these websites can be printed out and distributed as a low-tech alternative

Look at the front pages of the BBC News, BBC Local News, Newsbeat, or CBBC Newsround websites.

Guess the age of the audience for each, commenting on the choice of news topics, formality of language, layout etc.

1. What is the age of your audience on School Report News Day? That's when you will be making the news for real and publishing it on your school website.

2. Given your audience, are there any stories you would avoid reporting?

Lots of factors are involved in deciding which stories to report and how to cover them, including whether they are appropriate for your audience.

A hard-hitting crime story which is suitable for viewers of Newsnight at 10.30pm may well be totally inappropriate for Newsround's much younger audience at teatime.


In addition, there are legal issues to consider: ongoing court cases are extremely tricky and BBC court reporters undergo training to guard against the risk of breaching contempt of court laws. This is a serious offence and can lead to heavy fines and trials collapsing.

Without hard facts, celebrity gossip can be nothing more than rumour and is usually best avoided.

There is also the potential to damage somebody's reputation unfairly, raising the prospect of a libel action - and repeating somebody else's story is no defence in the eyes of the courts, which can issue large fines.

Look again at your answer to question 2. Having read the information above about reporting regulations, would you add to or change your answers?

Activity: Spot the sources (10 mins)

For this activity, you will need to print out this worksheet:

Look at the images on the worksheet and circle all the possible news sources - that's where you might find a story that your audience wants and/or needs to know about.

Now answer these questions?

1. Which of these could be sources in your school for your news story?

2. What other sources could you use? Think about outside school too.

Events that go on inside the school and your local community can be just as important to your audience as major global news, so remember not to overlook great sources of information and stories close to home.

And think about journalists who work on your local newspaper or local TV or radio station. Where might they get their stories from? Could you use similar sources for your reports?

Quiz: What is news and where to find it (10 mins)

Quiz: Finding news

Test your knowledge about what news is and the places you can find it.

Journalists working in a newsroom

1.) Journalist's role

Which of these best describes the job of journalist?

School Reporters sit in a studio
  1. Someone who finds and reports newsworthy stories.
  2. Someone who watches the news.
  3. Someone who promotes politicians and businesses.

2.) What is news?

Which of these headlines is NOT news?

School Reporters look at a pile of papers
  1. US President to visit UK.
  2. Pupil drops pen during lesson.
  3. Usain Bolt breaks 100m record.

3.) Sources

Contacts are...

School Reporters using a camera
  1. People journalists talk to when they are researching stories.
  2. Notebooks which contain a journalist's research.
  3. The big TV screens in the newsroom.

4.) Sources

What are "wires"?

The newsroom at BBC Television Centre in London
  1. A nickname for camera operators.
  2. Another name for headlines.
  3. Reports from journalists all over the world that news organisations pay to access.

5.) News values

The head teacher of a local primary school tells you that she's upset about a proposal to close her school. What headline would you choose for this story?

School Reporter prepares to read the headlines
  1. Head teacher announces school closure
  2. Head teacher upset over school closure plan
  3. Head teacher attacks council over school closure

6.) Types of news

Newsbeat is Radio 1's news programme. There are two bulletins every weekday, plus news summaries throughout the day. How long is each bulletin?

On Air and Mic Live signs in a radio studio
  1. 10 minutes
  2. 15 minutes
  3. 30 minutes

7.) Types of News

Which kind of news does World Have Your Say mainly report?

Someone using the telephone
  1. Local news
  2. International news
  3. National news

8.) Audience

Which of these audiences is Newsround aimed at?

Newsround logo
  1. 18 to 25-year-olds
  2. 13 to 17-year-olds
  3. 6 to 12-year-olds

9.) News platforms

Which of these is NOT a news platform?

The gallery of a studio on News Day
  1. TV
  2. Radio
  3. A desk


  1. A journalist is someone who finds newsworthy stories, creates reports and shares them with the public. Journalists do lots of different things to bring you the news, from taking pictures to doing interviews. But their core job is finding interesting, important and surprising stories that the public should hear about.
  2. Pupil drops pen during lesson is unlikely to be a news story. Different news programmes will often cover different stories but giving your audience something they need or want to know is the starting point for choosing the right stories. Would people be interested in a pupil who dropped a pen in class?
  3. Contacts are people journalists speak to when they are researching stories. Your family, friends, neighbours and teachers can all be great sources for stories.
  4. Wires are reports from journalists all over the world that news organisations pay to access. Wire services operated by media organisations such as Associated Press and the Press Association can be a really useful source for reporters. Journalists try to find two sources when reporting a story, to increase their chances of getting the most accurate information.
  5. Head teacher upset over school closure plan is the best choice. When she spoke to you, the head teacher didn't say the school was definitely closing and she didn't attack the council. Journalists must always tell the truth and report what people say accurately.
  6. Newsbeat has two 15 minute bulletins every weekday. But you'll also hear news summaries throughout the day and the Newsbeat website is regularly updated with the latest stories.
  7. World Have Your Say mainly reports international news, that's stories of interest to a global audience. News about something that's happening in one country can be really interesting to people from all over the world.
  8. Newsround is aimed at 6 to 12-year-olds. The people who make the programme choose stories they think might interest children of this age and try to cover it in a way they will find interesting.
  9. A desk is not a news platform. There are lots of places you can access the news but a desk doesn't really count! The BBC uses lots of different platforms to get news to the public, including TV, radio, websites, mobile phone apps, iPlayer, the Red Button service and social media sites.

Your Score

0 - 3 : Keep working at it

4 - 7 : Good but could be better

8 - 9 : Well done!

The online quiz gives you the answers at the end of each question. If you are using the quiz worksheet, the answers can be found here:

This multiple-choice quiz is designed to test your knowledge of news programmes and services, sources, and truth and accuracy.

It also provides real-life scenarios to prompt discussions about the issues that surround the world of news.

You can take the above quiz online, either on this page or on a separate page which is easier to email and distribute at school; a low-tech alternative is to print out this worksheet:



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