Page last updated at 15:04 GMT, Friday, 2 September 2011 16:04 UK

International Newsgathering for Twinned Schools

School Reporters using computers
School Reporters can investigate news from their twinned school

School Report/World Class lesson: International Newsgathering for Twinned Schools

Gathering news is a key part of journalism.

Tracking down stories and recording interviews is part of what reporters have to do every day.

Journalists use numerous "sources" to gather news, and a key source is people. Individuals' stories can add colour and emotion to the facts of a news story.

A good example of this is Children of the Revolution, where students at Clyst Vale Community College near Exeter spoke to young people in Tunisia about the anti-government demonstrations taking place in their country.

People can also bring a completely new story to your attention, such as this feature about the phenomenon of 'crammer' colleges in India.

And how about this example of a great story? Pupils in Plymouth were able to put their questions straight to Babar Ali, who is a headmaster at just 16 years old!

As a twinned school you have an excellent opportunity to investigate news stories outside of your own country.

Think about where your twinned school is: what is happening in that country and what you would like to ask them?


• To identify international newsworthy stories and discuss the editorial merit of a story

• To plan an interview

• To interview students and teachers in other schools using open questions and develop an awareness of different cultures

• To create international news stories for BBC News School Report and World Class and their school websites

• To understand that people/contacts can be news sources


• Contact your twinned school in advance and ask them what key stories they would suggest reporting about THEIR OWN school/country.

• Make a list of these topics.

• You will need: newspapers and/or computers with internet access, pens and paper.

NB One school can be the interviewer, and the other the interviewee, or it can be done in 'two directions' at the same time.


What is news and where to find it (duration: 6 mins)

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

He also suggests where you can start looking for stories and ideas of your own.

You can recap the key points from the video using the accompanying worksheet.

Question: What first comes to mind when you think of…. (place/country)?

Internet research in groups of: (5 mins)

Look at your twinned school's location on:

What are the key stories about that country? Are they the same as the ideas you first thought of? Where did your original ideas come from?

Question: Which stories did your twinned school suggest?

Are they the same as the stories you came up with? If not, why not?

Write and pitch (in groups of five):

What story would you cover?

Why this story?

List three questions you would ask your twinned school?

Print out your 'pitch' and place at the front of the class.

Selecting a story: Class vote - using sticky dots/ticks etc on the pitch they prefer.


a) The interview

Video: Former BBC Sport reporter and presenter David Garrido gives his key points to remember when conducting an interview.

His examples are from the world of sport, but they hold true for any topic - good research, asking open questions and listening carefully to the answers are the essentials of a good interview

David emphasises the importance of identifying areas to probe in advance, as well as developing a good rapport with your interviewee.

Activity: Learn more about open and closed questions here

Activity: Think of 3 OPEN questions for your interviewees and write them out.

Tips for telephone interviews:
School Reporter using telephone
Pre-arrange the interview time - and make sure you stick to it!
Provide the interviewee with topics to be covered in advance
Try to use a phone with a 'speaker' function if you can
Tell the interviewee that they are on speakerphone and introduce yourselves
Take it in turn to ask questions and note answers
Write up the results as a group
In the BBC, telephone interviews are called a 'phono'!

Selecting the best questions: Class vote (using sticky dots/ticks etc)

b) The Logistics

Questions/Class discussion:

How long will you have for your interview?

How will you know that your interviewees will be available at that time?

Have you considered time difference?

What other resources will you need? eg

Photos, video from your twinned school? (NB please ensure parental consent from twinned school students)

Telephone/skype for interview

Computer for emailing questions/photos

Video/audio of interview being carried out?

Assign roles for your team: Who will ask the questions? Film the interview? Transcribe the answers?


Good luck! And remember to listen carefully to the answers and ask follow-up questions to help get more information.


Now it is time to write up everything you have learned from your twinned school.

Writing news

In groups of five, decide the key points and the best quotes for your story.

Use the worksheet below to help structure your story.

Write your story remembering the five W's (Who, What, Why, When, Where) and the three C's (Clear, Concise, Correct).



How will you broadcast your news? And how will your twinned school broadcast their news? What facilities do they have? eg audio, video, website

School newsletter

Local press here and abroad

Will it be part of a 'bulletin' or a stand-alone item?

Will you broadcast together or separately?

How will you see each others' reports?

For more story ideas, or to find out more about twinning with other schools, see BBC World Class.



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