Page last updated at 15:52 GMT, Wednesday, 17 August 2011 16:52 UK

These lesson plans are structured to last for one hour, and cover all the key elements of journalism

A School Reporter from Wildern School using a video camera


This lesson, the first in a series of six, explains what makes news newsworthy and where to find news, as well as the importance of thinking about your audience.

We also have a pick and mix section where teachers can pick out resources to create bespoke lessons for their pupils.

And the special Teacher Essentials section includes lots of extra information and advanced resources.

Please note: this lesson is designed to run for an hour, but all timings (except for video durations) are approximate and can be expanded or reduced if necessary.

  • To understand what makes a story newsworthy
  • To understand that news comes in a variety of formats and styles for different audiences
  • To understand the nature of different news sources
  • To understand the importance of truth and accuracy in news


1 - Video - What is news - 2 mins 30 secs (+ 2-3 mins to recap/discuss)
Resources required: Internet access

2 - Video - Finding news - 3 mins (+ 2-3 mins to recap/discuss)
Resources required: Internet access

3 - Activity - News judgement - 5 mins
Resources required: Printable worksheet

4 - Activity - Spot the sources - 10 mins
Resources required: Printable worksheet

5 - Video - Finding news masterclass - 3 mins (+ 2-3 mins to recap/discuss)
Resources required: Internet access

6 - Activity - BBC News Cards - 20 mins
Resources required: Internet access or printable worksheet

7 - Quiz - Finding news - 10 mins
Resources required: Internet access or printable worksheet/answer sheet


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.

Activity: News judgement (5 mins)

Bearing in mind the tips from Huw Edwards, print out this worksheet and 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: 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?

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, and simple guides to sites like Twitter.

Activity: BBC News cards (20 mins)

One of the BBC's values as an organisation is that "audiences are at the heart of everything we do".

Thinking about the audience is an important part of journalism, and this exercise will help explain the different types of audiences for news - including your School Report stories.

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 for the artistic - 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?

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 test gives you the answers at the end of the test. 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.

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

  • For reference, teachers may like to look at previous years' lesson plans including 2009-11 and 2006-8.

Approved rubber stamp graphic

This lesson has been approved by the BBC College of Journalism.



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