Writing Newspaper Articles
This lesson guides learners as they inform a public audience about philanthropic acts that enhance the common good. The learners write newspaper articles that describe acts of service and volunteerism in their community.
The learner will:
- identify the core democratic principle Freedom of the Press and the responsibilities that go with it.
- identify and use writing mechanics of an effective newspaper article.
- online editions of newspapers
- copies of handouts
In groups of three or four, youth view online versions of different newspapers, preferably one national, one state, and one regional. Tell the group to get familiar with the paper, looking at headlines that grab their attention and counting the types of articles included in their paper, such as three foreign stories, eight local news, two weather related, etc. Tell them to look at language, article structure, and types of information shared.
As a discussion starter, you may want to analyze a chart that compares the bias of different national news sources.
Have each group take less than two minutes to describe the contents of their papers. By listening to others, they gain a sense of the differences between the papers. Discuss the major differences for a few minutes.
Ask the learners to recall the first amendment rights as it pertains to news. Freedom of the Press is fundamental to our United States tradition of democracy, but along with that "right" comes the need for responsible news reporting. (First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.)
Tell the learners that people read newspapers differently than they read other forms of written material. People who read newspapers usually scan headlines, and they only read the articles of interest to them. Newspaper articles must get the readers' attention quickly with a headline and give concise basic information in the first paragraph: Who?, What?, Where?, When?, and Why? A quote or two lends authenticity to the article.
Share with the learners the following helpful hints for preparing and writing a quality article:
- Audience: Keep in mind who will be reading your story.
- Accuracy: Be sure the facts are correct.
- Research: Complete any background research on the story topic and check the facts to be sure they are accurate.
- Interviews: Schedule interviews, prepare questions ahead of time, and take notes during the interview.
- Writing: Be sure that all of the components of writing a good story are included.
- Images/pictures: Choose images that will draw attention and help convey the story.
Give each group copies of the handouts: Writing a Newspaper Article Organizer and Rubric. Their assignment is to write an article about an act of philanthropy or service in the community. The rubric will guide them. They conduct research, write, edit, and publish.
Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
Benchmark HS.1 Utilize the persuasive power of written or oral communication as an instrument of change in the community, nation or the world.
Benchmark HS.2 Discuss a public policy issue affecting the common good and demonstrate respect and courtesy for differing opinions.
Benchmark HS.3 Participate in acts of democratic citizenship in the community, state or nation, such as petitioning authority, advocating, voting, group problem solving, mock trials or classroom governance and elections.
Benchmark HS.4 Analyze and synthesize information to differentiate fact from opinion based on the investigation of issues related to public policy. Discuss these issues evaluating the effects of individual actions on other people, the rule of law and ethical behavior.