About the Reporting Labs
PBS NewsHour Extra Student Reporting Labs are classrooms, after-school programs and clubs around the country producing original, inspiring reports about how national and global issues affect local communities.
PBS NewsHour Extra Student Reporting Labs
Lesson 1.1: What’s Newsworthy?
Developed by Renee Hobbs
Students learn about how decisions are made about what’s newsworthy and conduct a Morning Meeting to decide the top stories for a TV newscast.
By the end of this lesson, students will be able to:
· Understand the difference between news and information
· Use news values to determine which stories are newsworthy
· Understand how a target audience shapes decisions about what’s newsworthy
· Demonstrate collaboration, respectful listening and participation in a group
· Use reasoning to select which types of news stories are most important for the public to know
Make copies of Worksheet A and B for each team. Use this template to help students pitch news stories.
Ask: How do editors decide what gets on the front page of the newspaper?
Listen to students’ answers, which will reflect their prior knowledge of the practice of journalism. You might want to ask students how do they know what they know, since some students may be using a combination of ideas learned from family and friends, direct experience, and from movies, TV shows, books and other media.
Ask: What’s the difference between “news” and “information”?
Answers will vary. You might want to make a Venn diagram to chart student answers, encouraging them to consider the similarities and differences between the two concepts. Emphasize that news is timely and current. News is relevant information that helps us understand what is happening in the world around us. News helps us in making decisions about our health, our finances, and to play our part in democracy at the local, state and national level.
Explore: What’s News?
Pass out copies of Worksheet A. In this activity, students use a newspaper or go online to find examples of current news stories that use each of the five news values. Students will discover that important news stories may have multiple news values (ie., they are timely, relevant, of local interest, feature human interest, and feature conflict or controversy).
Ask students to summarize a story they selected to represent each of the five news values. Use this activity to assess whether your students understand the five news values. Use “why” questions to promote reflective, critical thinking.
Consider the Target Audience
What’s newsworthy depends on the target audience, to some extent. What’s newsworthy to a 15-year old will be different from that of a senior citizen. What’s newsworthy to a city dweller may be less newsworthy to one who lives in a small town.
You may adapt this activity so that each team of students must select what’s newsworthy for a specific target audience. For example, teams might pick the top three news stories for these different target audiences:
· Late-night TV viewers (generally young males and females, ages 15 to 30)
· People who live and work on the local army base
· Busy working mothers (generally ages 20 to 40)
· Sports fans
Observe that the concepts of “relevance” and “human interest” are most like to change depending on the characteristics of the target audience.
Ask: What are the potential positive and negative consequences of news decisions that are based on the unique characteristics of the audience?
Listen carefully and write down students’ ideas, putting them into two categories of positive and negative consequences. Allow time for students to dig in to this important and complex question. Encourage students to make a connection to their own experiences as news consumers on the many choices that are available to them through online media, television, radio, and print media.