News literacy teaching ideas for secondary schools

Last updated: 05-21-2020

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News literacy teaching ideas for secondary schools

Update 23 March 2020: this page will continue to be updated in the coming days to support teachers, young people and families

Find out about how the Guardian newspaper is produced from start to finish:From first word to final edition is an article explaining all the processes. The nightly miracle is a short film about how the paper is printed and distributed around the country.

There are many different roles in journalism necessary for producing a newspaper and website. Choose a job from our newspaper roles fact sheet and research what they do. Guardian journalists explain what they do in these short videos from NewsWise.

Have a look at the different sections of a newspaper, eg front pages, UK, World, Sport. Choose favourite stories, headlines and pictures and explain choices. Use ournews terminology fact sheet to identify other parts of the newspaper.

Read a selection of newspapers and news websites or watch a news programme. Talk about which stories are the most important or interesting, the order in which they appear and how they are presented. Select which stories to put on a front page. Allocate roles and encourage students to persuade assigned editors to pick their choice of story for the front page based on its news value.

Read and compare the layout and content of the front pages of several different newspapers. Discuss why the newspapers have chosen these stories to go on the front of the paper. Look at the different strategies newspapers use to grab the reader’s attention. Our news terminology fact sheet andannotated front pageshelp identify all the different elements on the front pages. Use these Guardian galleries to analyse front pages from a range of publications about important news events.

Analyse why stories are chosen. There are four main reasons:

The Guardian’s editorial code details the rules that our journalists must adhere to.

Reporters must have as much information as possible about their story. They verify all the facts by doing detailed research using a range of trusted sources.

Discuss the inverted pyramid structure of news stories and the key opening paragraph including the 5Ws of journalism (who, what, where, when, why).

See ournews writing factsheet for more on the structure of news reports. There are lots of useful tips on news writing in the Guardian’s How to write: journalism series.

Practise cutting down news stories to a set number of paragraphs or words, ensuring that the key elements of the story remain. Look for redundant words. Subedit articles containing deliberate mistakes: eg spelling, grammar, punctuation, capital letters, homophones, typos, factual errors. Use the Guardian and Observer style guide for help with subediting.

There is lots on the importance of subediting as well as some examples of things to look out for in this article for Guardian Members by Guardian G1 production editor Jamie Fahey.

Discuss how headlines make people read stories. Compare a range of headlines from different newspapers and websites and discuss why they work. Look at the importance of active verbs in headlines and how this helps to make them effective. Identify different language techniques such as alliteration, puns and rhyme and why they may be used in certain types of stories and not appropriate in others. Write headlines for stories before seeing what news organisations have used, then compare results and discuss which are most successful and why.

Discuss how pictures support news stories and what makes a picture more powerful or effective. Analyse a selection of images on the same subject from different newspapers and websites and discuss the impact that each has on the story. Look at how pictures work with headlines to encourage people to read the story. Give students pictures without stories or headlines and see if they can work out what the story is about. The Guardian pictures page has examples of interesting news-related images chosen by our picture editors. The Best photographs of the day offers a variety of images that can be used as a starting point for debate or discussions about picture choices.

For more activities and teaching ideas see our resources page.

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