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Shaping the News
Module 2, Activity 3.3 - Constructing a Story
Teacher Page
(student page for this lesson)


There is opportunity for news everywhere. Students have spent time in the previous lessons, Introduction to Television Journalism and Parts of a Broadcast, examining the effects of television broadcasting and watching actual broadcasts. In the next few lessons, students will prepare and create their own news segment. This lesson will focus on reviewing audience appeal, and finding stories within the community.


- news releases created in Finding Stories and Writing Releases
- personal code of ethics created in Journalists' Personal Codes of Ethics
- list of useful lesson links


Task One - Appealing to the Masses
Audience appeal is not just a concern for advertisers and editors. Every form of journalism must consider its audience and work to keep those people interested. Having spent some time in previous lessons discussing target audience and audience appeal in print journalism, students must now review that concept and apply it to electronic media.

To help students review this key idea, have them watch a short news clip. During the clip ask students to write down the 5W's and the H, and list the parts of the broadcast they found most interesting.

Tip - CBC has many archived news clips. Try to choose one that has important information intertwined with emotional appeal (such as this clip about the Montreal Massacre). This will give you a jumping point for your discussion regarding audience.

Once the students have watched the news clip, begin by discussing the basic events of the news story and which parts the students thought were the most powerful/interesting.

Use the moments the students found interesting to continue the discussion and help the students make connections between audience appeal and the news clip they just watched.

Key Connections and Questions

  1. Why does this 3-4 minute clip use so many interview clips? The viewers invest emotionally when they can see the emotions of others.
  2. Why is the entire segment done without seeing a reporter? Images of the scene and those involved are more powerful.
  3. What is television media able to do to interest their audience that radio and print media cannot? Television can provide a sequence of short clips and important images.
  4. What is the benefit of electronic media? Of print media? Providing powerful images vs. allowing the readers to image for themselves.

Students need to make the connection between audience appeal and the unique format of television news before they are ready to continue.

Task Two - What's Old is New Again
Students are going to begin working on a project that will take place over the next 3 lessons. They are working towards creating their own segment of a news broadcast. They will be responsible for:

1. Researching the story
2. Conducting an interview on tape
3. Writing the news script - including an introduction to the story, the story itself with interview clips, and a conclusion.
4. Taping yourselves as the on-camera reporter
5. Editing your tape into a short (2-3 minute) news segment

In this lesson, they will begin working with a story idea. In subsequent lessons, they will shoot the interview and all other parts of the broadcast.

Start by randomly handing out the press releases that the students completed in the print journalism lesson, Finding Stories and Writing Releases. These will give students an idea with which to start.

As the students look at the press releases, they should see all the pertinent facts of the story that existed when the release was written. Now, they must determine where the story can go from here. You will need to help the students to see that from the release they have, they can create a new story with a different angle.

Provide an example for the students.

If their press release contains information about the upcoming, local fundraiser for Telemiracle, then they need to begin asking new questions:

How much money was raised in this one event?
How much did the community raise as a whole?
How much did Telemiracle raise in total?
Has anyone local ever been the recipient of money raised by Telemiracle?
How has Telemiracle changed the lives of the people it has helped?
Are there other, locally based, charities that are helping community members?

Want to try another, simpler activity for Task Two plus? Try transforming a previous story rather than starting over in this alternate task.

Students will be able to
- recognize what is news
- recognize the elements of a news story
- understand effective news gathering and editing techniques
- understand the purpose of a news release
- understand the role of a news bureau
- recognize the difference between writing for electronic media and writing for print media
- understand the requirements for reporting news using radio, television, and the Internet
- identify the conventions of the electronic media
- apply understanding of print journalism to the electronic media
- determine and plan a project in one area of journalism
- understand the rights and responsibilities of the press
- demonstrate responsible journalism
- speak to clarify and extend thinking
- locate, assess, and summarize information from a variety of sources
cable connector icon View other lessons for the main objective.

Instructional Strategies:

Task 1 - Reflective Discussion (Indirect)
Task 2 - Problem Solving (Indirect)
Task 3 - Didactic Questions (Direct)
Task 4 - Brainstorming (Interactive)

Task Two Continued. . .
Using the example above, ask the students how they would decide where the story should go from here. This will provide an opportunity to review developing a central idea and writing for audience.

Task Three - Tread Carefully
It is time for the students to begin their research. This is an important time to review journalistic ethics. As this is a concept students have spent time on, you might simply review their ideas about ethics through a series of questions that remind students of their responsibilities as a journalist.

Sample Questions:
Looking back at your personal code of ethics, what is the most important thing to remember while researching and telling a story?
What has been the most difficult part of your code to follow and why is this an important thing to consider?

*Students need to remember that as journalists they must make the difficult the decisions. This is why having their own personal code of ethics, that they can look at when they are facing difficult choices, is useful.

They can use their code of ethics as their moral compass when writing and researching any story. compass

Once students have reviewed their own codes of ethics, they should begin research. They must decide on a focal point for their story, determine the central questions on which they want to focus, create a list of possible people to interview and begin researching local papers and other sources.

Task Four - Negotiation Time
As students begin researching their news story, they will want to know where they are headed with this idea and how they will be marked. Discuss the scope and sequence of this assignment with the students and determine how many classes they will be able to use.

Once the students understand that this idea will become a news segment, it is time for the class to collaborate and generate expectations for the assignment and the corresponding evaluation.

You will need to help them generate a list of things they will be marked on and then determine what a quality segment should look like. As the students have had opportunities to negotiate assessment in previous lessons, your job will be to ask questions that are specific to televised journalism, to lead the class to a consensus about quality for this assignment.

  • What captures audience attention?
  • How long and how detailed should a segment of news be?
  • What would look like a professional journalist to the viewers?
  • What would sound like one?

These questions will allow the students to make up their own minds about what a journalist should achieve with a news segment and help them to review the benchmarks for a quality news story. Remind students of their responsibilities within this assignment and that they must set goals for process and product.

Assessment and Evaluation:
This lesson is the beginning of an assignment that will require a series of lessons to complete. Most of what you will want to accomplish, in this lesson, is a review of previous concepts in relation to the medium of television. You will monitor for recall and understanding of these concepts, but there is no place for formal evaluation at this point in the process.

Your most important task regarding evaluation is the negotiated assessment. This will help students to take ownership for the evaluation tool and strive to reach the goals for quality that they have collectively set. This is an important exercise as students work to complete Electronic Media and work towards an independent project in Module Three.


Last Updated
May 30, 2005

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