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Teachers: Literacy: Text

Last Updated: Friday June 02 2006 13:05 GMT

Getting a story

Getting a story graphic
News happens 24 hours a day all over the world.

It's a journalist's job to report the most interesting stories to the public.

This depends upon the people who are going to be reading or watching your news report - the audience.

Students unearth the facts of a story by watching an animated clip. They take a quiz to decide which information is relevant for their audience.

Learning aims

By the end of the lesson, students should have a deeper understanding of the following:

  • The facts of a story - what, who, where, when and why
  • Writing for different audiences

Ice-breaker

CLIP: SPOTTING A GOOD STORY
Skateboard park graphic

Getting the facts

Students watch the short animated clip about a skate park, then answer the following 10 questions.

Students who don't have access to the internet may do the following activity .

Using a recent newspaper article, each student briefly answers these questions:

  • What is the story about?
  • Who is involved?
  • Where does the story take place?
  • When does it happen?
  • Why did it happen?

Students pair up and swap notes.

Without having read the full article, students use the notes to write two sentences which summarise the news event.

Students compare their summary with the original article.

Ask students:

  • Which facts did you get wrong?
  • As a journalist, how can you make sure you get all the facts right? Prompt: ask W questions (what, who, when, where, why), ask reliable people, ask a range of people.
Main activity

Audience

Explain to students: Now you have got your facts, you need to decide which bits you are going to use in your report and the order you will put them in.

This depends upon the people who are going to be reading or watching your news report - your audience.

This is just another way of saying "a group of people," e.g. the Newsround audience are children, but the 10 O'clock news audience are adults.

A journalist has to know what their audience are interested in. They have to ask themselves questions like:

  • How old are my audience?
  • What are they worried about?
  • What are their hobbies?
  • What affects their lives?
Ask students:
  • Imagine your audience are all elderly people. Which ONE fact about the skate park story/ newspaper article you looked at will they be most interested in?
  • Write the opening sentence of a news report which includes this fact.
  • Imagine your audience are children. Which ONE fact about the skate park story/ newspaper article will they be most interested in?
  • Write an alternative opening sentence which includes this fact.

Audience quiz

QUIZ: SPOTTING A GOOD STORY
Bulldozer at skate park graphic

Students take the online quiz, by using this link and clicking on "Take the Quiz."

Students who do not have access to the internet, can print off the quiz by clicking on the link below.

Answers:

1b , 2a , 3b , 4c , 5b , 6c , 7a , 8a , 9c, 10b

For feedback on the quiz answers, click on the link in the blue box.

Extension activity

NIBs

Students write two short articles (also known as NIBs or News in Brief) about the skateboard park or the news event they looked at earlier in the paper.

One should be for an adult audience and one should be for an audience of children.

Plenary

Ask students: When you are writing for an audience of children, what should you consider?

They might like to think about the answer in terms of:

  • words
  • pictures
  • length
  • tone
  • topics
  • news angles
  • people to interview
Teachers' background

...then click on "Printable guide."

Getting a story

News happens 24 hours a day all over the world and it's a journalist's job to report the most interesting stories to the public.

Before they can write a report, journalists have to do three things:

  • Find stories
  • Decide on the best stories for their audience
  • Get the facts about the stories
  • Finding a story
Sources

So where do journalists get the news from in the first place?

  • Other journalists

    Journalists all over the world write stories about what is happening where they are.

    Many of them write for agencies which share these stories with other news organisations.

    The news agencies put the stories onto a computer which other journalists can look at. The computer system is known as wires.

    Journalists can take stories from wires and use them as their own stories.

  • Press Releases

    Journalists are sent hundreds of press releases a week from companies, charities, schools and organisations telling them about events and other news.

  • Websites

    Journalists often search the web to find stories of interest - particularly ones about specialist subjects such as Harry Potter.

  • Contacts

    Journalists talk to all kinds of different people on a regular basis. These people are known as contacts. They include record companies, sports clubs, politicians and games makers.

    Journalists keep a record of their contacts in a contacts book and talk to them to find out what's happening before anyone else knows.

  • The Public

    Journalists get lots of phone calls and letters from the public about news and events that are happening in their local area.

    With so many stories coming from all these sources, the next job is to decide which ones are interesting or important enough to make a report.

The audience

To decide which stories to use journalists need to think about who they are writing their report for.

Every newspaper, programme or website has an "audience" which is another way of saying "a group of people."

For example, the Newsround audience are children, but the 10 O'clock News audience are adults.

When writing a report a journalist has to ask themselves certain questions like: How old are my audience? What are they worried about? What are their hobbies? What affects their lives?

This helps them to decide which stories will interest their audience and to pick which ones will make it into their programme, website or newspaper.

Getting the facts - The five Ws

After choosing the best stories to report, a journalist has to find out the facts about each story.

It's important to know all the facts and report them fully. If any details are missing or reported incorrectly then the people you are writing about will get upset.

A good way to check you have all the details is to ask the five Ws. These are questions starting with who, what, why, where and when.

By asking these questions a journalist should get all the basic facts they need to successfully write their report.

Remember, if you think carefully about who your audience and ask the five Ws you'll be able to write great reports!

Curriculum relevance

National Curriculum Citizenship Key Stage 3

1h. Pupils should be taught about the significance of the media in society.
2a. Pupils should be taught to think about topical events by analysing information and its sources, including ICT-based sources.

National Curriculum English Key Stage 3, En2 Reading

4c. Pupils should be taught to sift the relevant from the irrelevant, and distinguish between fact and opinion, bias and objectivity.
5c. Pupils should be taught how the nature and purpose of media products influence content and meaning e.g. selection of stories for a front page or news broadcast.
9c. The range should include media and moving image texts e.g. newspapers and videos.


For hundreds more news-based stories, click on Teachers on the left-hand side.



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