School Report: Practical Tips

A School Reporter does an interview


The resources on these pages are designed to provide you with practical tips to help turn your pupils into journalists, and background reading and material to help you get up to speed with some of the key skills of journalism.

We have picked out some of the key material for you already on this page, but for the extra keen the BBC College of Journalism website has a wealth of guides, videos, quizzes, blogs and other resources to explain everything you ever wanted to know about journalism.

You'll also find resources you can use as extension activities for your class or as advanced options for older students.



These resources provide some basic information to help your newsroom run smoothly and, above all, safely.

There's a comprehensive guide to common roles in TV, radio and online newsrooms - useful if you're trying to create a newsroom experience in your own school and if you're looking to allocate specific roles to individual pupils.

There's also advice on keeping your newsroom safe and a glossary of common media terms so you can use the journalistic jargon!


Making video

Creating video reports can be a great way for pupils to tell their stories.

The videos and guides on the right show you how BBC journalists make the news you see on television.

You can get some top tips from video journalists and camera professionals to learn all the various tricks of the trade to make your reports look great.

And you can also study some of the skills of editing - picking out the best bits of your filming and combining them into one package which tells the story is what TV reporters have to do every day.

Get to grips with the principles of editing and treat yourself to a behind-the-scenes look at Newsnight with none other than Jeremy Paxman!

And why not - in true Blue Peter style - make your own autocue!


Making radio

If you have decided to make radio reports, this section is full of practical advice.

There are tips on recording high quality audio and adding atmosphere to your finished pieces.

You can also see how journalists at Radio 1's Newsbeat make packages for their bulletins and the different roles that people do in order to produce the output that the audience hears.



Writing is a big part of a journalist's job, whether they work online, on radio or on television.

The resources on the right are designed to help journalists of every level improve their writing skills.

There's also great advice on making your web stories clear and interesting - and a very important section on how to make sure your stories don't fall foul of media law such as libel, copyright and contempt of court.

One of the newer ways for journalists to cover stories is through live event pages, featuring regular short updates to keep people quickly up-to-date with all the latest news.

The guide to sub-editing is a must-read to get some top tips for how to check stories and scripts for mistakes before they are published or broadcast.

And if you're wondering what SEO means, it stands for Search Engine Optimisation - in other words making headlines more easily discoverable via Google and other search engines. It's an increasingly important part of the business as the competition for online readers grows ever fiercer.


Sport reporting

Lots of the practical tips, guides, activities and so on work across all kinds of different areas of reporting, whether it's entertainment, politics or any other main topic, including sport.

But there are some specific tips available for sport reporting and coverage which will be useful for any pupils wishing to specialise in sport.

From commentating on live action to writing match reports and live pages, being a sport journalist is a dream job for many people, so check out these resources for some top tips.



One of the trickiest parts of journalism can sometimes be actually finding the right people to interview.

Most journalists keep a contacts book of the people they have spoken to over the years, but everyone has to start somewhere!

These guides give some great practical advice for how to get hold of the people you would like to interview.

And once you've tracked down your interviewee, if you can't meet them face to face then the guide to carrying out phone interviews will help you make the most of any opportunity.



Comprehensive research is the key to preparing an accurate news story or interview.

Make sure you talk to the right people who can provide you with useful information, browse relevant internet sites and carefully make use of information on social media.

Do not get caught out with not having done your homework properly before making a story live or setting off for your big interview - whether it is in text, audio or video form.


Reporting skills

The resources in this section are designed to provide top tips and slightly more in-depth advice and guidance about various types of reporting.

There are guides to help your students develop their political reporting skills, including some tips if they're visiting the Houses of Parliament.

They can also get advice on reporting international news, preparing for press conferences and how to use statistics and science in your reports.

In addition, the BBC College of Journalism also provides some great specialist guides to specific areas such as business, politics, the military, the Royal family and religion, which are well worth checking out if your pupils are pursuing stories in those kind of areas.


Broadcasting and sharing

Once you've made the news, it's time to share it with a wider audience - to broadcast!

This is the time to show everyone the stories you've been working on, and you want to present them in the best possible light.

These resources are designed to help you and your School Reporters prepare for your broadcast on News Day, and to give you some advice about sharing content safely



For online reports, good photos can often make a huge difference to the story, bringing articles to life and illustrating exactly what is going on as well as attracting a reader's attention.

The old adage that "a picture is worth a thousand words" still holds in the digital age, so find out how to take great photos for the web.


Image caption Your newsroom doesn't have to be as big as the BBC's brand-new one at Broadcasting House

Guide: Who does what in TV, radio and online news?

If you want to create a newsroom experience in your school, this guide to common roles is the first place to visit.

You can browse by platform, and allocate as many or as few roles to students as you like.

Or just use this section to help pupils learn about the process of making news.


Guide: Safety in the newsroom

Get some top tips on making your newsroom a safe place for your School Reporters and saving unnecessary stress on the day!


Guide: Glossary of common media terms

This handy glossary explains common media terms so you can sound like a pro!

From "donuts" to "discos" and "slugs" to "stings", this guide should clear up some of the mysteries of journalistic lingo!


Pocket guides: Top tips on the key skills for journalists on the move

School Report has a mobile version of its website and has produced a series of handy 'pocket guides' summarising the key points about various skills such as interviewing, filming etc for quick and easy reference while out and about.


Video: How to make a video news report (7 mins)

Learn how to make a great video report with some help from the BBC reporter Sophie Long.

School Reporters show how the news-making process works and break down the components of a good news package.


Image caption Camera operators are a key part of TV news

Guide: Who does what in television news?

An in-depth look at the various jobs that all need doing and combine to make television news bulletins and packages.

From editors, producers and camera operators, to sound specialists, floor managers and presenters, these are the roles that your pupils can help fill to get your bulletin and reports out on time!


Video and guide: How to make your own autocue! (4 mins)

Newsreaders need to be able to read a teleprompter - and now School Reporters can follow suit!

But don't worry - your school doesn't have to shell out hundreds of pounds on expensive equipment.

In true Blue Peter style, you can make one yourselves with some cardboard, sticky tape, a CD case and a smartphone!

Using a teleprompter, or autocue, means the presenter can read their lines while looking directly at the camera and can help to make your reports look even more professional.


Videos: Video making

The BBC's Video Nation network offers a wealth of information and examples of different aspects of video making.

In each section you will find five top tips, short videos from BBC staff and Video Nation contributors and links for each subject to a range of BBC and other websites offering production advice.

Topic areas include subject and story; mobile cameras; what you film; camera and lighting; sound skills; uploading and compression; editing skills; and BBC guidelines.


Video: Pieces to camera (11 mins)

Image caption School Reporters from Bath Rugby Education Centre do their 'PTC'

Your audience wants to know the reporter is where the story is happening, so a piece to camera (or PTC as it is often shortened to in the trade) is often used on location to demonstrate this.

To the uneducated eye it's just standing in front of a camera and talking but there's more to it that that!

BBC environment and science correspondent David Shukman explains some of the key issues to think about and offers his tips in this video on the BBC's College of Journalism's website.


Guide: Radio news tips

Want to learn more about making good radio?

Check out these tips to get more information on everything from adding atmosphere to your pieces to perfecting interview technique.

There's also advice on working with large groups and editing.


Guide: How to make a great radio package

A good radio package - essentially pre-recorded reports featuring interviews and sound effects - will grab the listener's attention and tell the story in an entertaining and creative way.

Our handy guide, written by experienced BBC reporter Karen Hoggan, has everything there is to know on how pupils can create a good package for radio - from ensuring they record everything they need on location, to advice on how to mix their material together into a finished product.


Guide: Tips on recording for radio

Teacher Claire McDermott, from the Verbal Arts Centre in Londonderry, has experience of making radio pieces with her School Reporters.

In this guide, she offers tips on how to go about it and discusses the equipment she used.


Guide: The journey of a radio news story

Discover how the Newsbeat team prepare a story for broadcast. This guide shows you how the story was put together and gives you a chance to listen to the final piece.


Guide: Who does what in a radio studio

Teamwork is the key to making a successful radio news programme.

From the editor to the broadcast assistant, everyone needs to work together to produce a great programme. Find out the different responsibilities of roles like studio managers, presenters and producers.


Video: Writing an OOV (5 mins)

An OOV is a bit of TV jargon that stands for "out of vision" - and it's pronounced just as you'd think!

Writing an OOV means writing a short script that the newsreader or presenter will read to accompany a sequence of a few video shots.

Simon Waldman, an editor on the BBC News Channel, gives his top tips in this series of short videos on the BBC's College of Journalism's website.


Video: Writing headlines (6 mins)

In this video on the BBC's College of Journalism's website, BBC presenter Sian Williams introduces the importance of good headline and intro writing to TV news programmes.


Image caption There's more to writing for the web than just typing!

Guide: Writing for the web

Writing for a website is very different from writing for radio and television - and it's even different from writing for a newspaper.

People don't read web stories in the same way they read newspapers. You need to remember how easy it is for any user to click away from your story to something they're more interested in.

These tips will help you make the most of your reporting online.


Guide: Who does what in an online news team

Just like TV and radio reporting, covering news online is a job which needs lots of people to work together as a team.

This guide explains some of the main roles, including specialist ones for online such as photographers and live text page writers.


Guide: Writing live pages for News

One way of covering big events on the internet is with a page of live updates. This is a great way of getting lots of information across in small bite-sized chunks and is especially useful in a fast-moving or breaking news story.

Victoria King has written live event pages for BBC News on a wide variety of topics, including the papal visit, the political party conferences and the 2010 election night.

They can be the perfect way to cover everything that's going on in your school on News Day on 21 March.

The BBC website uses them regularly for the latest sporting updates, and live event pages are just as suitable for news events.


Guide: SEO tips for beginners!

Millions of people use the internet to read the news, and it's a very competitive market to get people to read your stories as opposed to any others.

That means you have to think about "search engine optimisation" - or SEO as the modern jargon abbreviates it.

Put simply, this means putting words in the headline that search engines, like Google or Yahoo, will find and put at the top of the list, meaning your story is seen first.

This guide will explain some of the golden rules which will help your stories attract more readers.


Image caption A dictionary may come in handy when you are "subbing"!

Guide: Top tips for sub-editing

It's always advisable to have at least two pairs of eyes to look at a piece of work before it hits the web or goes to air.

It means that simple - and sometimes not so simple - mistakes are much more likely to get spotted before it's too late.

In a newsroom, this is normally the the job of the sub-editor. They do the "subbing" of everyone's work to double-check it and ensure it makes sense, tells the story properly and doesn't fall foul of any legal issues such as libel.

Read this guide to subbing and why not have a go at our activity to test your subbing skills?


Guide: Stay safe and legal

One of the key responsibilities that comes with making the news and broadcasting is to ensure you stay the right side of the law. So issues like copyright, libel and contempt of court are important to be aware of when you are writing your stories.

This simple guide tells you what you need to know when it comes to media law.


Guide: How to write a match report

Watching sport and writing about it is a dream job for many people.

But how do you write a really good report which tells the story of the match and really makes the reader feel like they were there?

There's lots of different ways of going about it, but this guide provides some general rules about the art of writing a match report.


Guide: How to write live sport text commentaries

Image caption Telling the story of top football matches through live text commentaries is very popular with readers

One way of telling the story of an event is through a live text commentary, where updates are published as quickly as possible to provide all the latest news as soon as it happens.

They are particularly useful in ongoing stories where lots of information is coming in quickly, and in sport. But it is not as simple as just turning up and writing whatever happens!

BBC Sport journalist Chris Bevan, who has written live text commentaries on events such as the Tour de France, Wimbledon and World Cup football, provides his top tips for producing an engaging and interesting live text commentary.


Video: Commentary masterclass

BBC commentator Jonathan Pearce has covered five World Cup tournaments and numerous England games and FA Cup finals, as well as regularly appearing on Match of the Day and BBC Radio 5 live.

He passed on some of his top tips to School Reporters from JFS School in London, and gave them a chance to commentate on some of the key incidents from the 2006 World Cup final!

For more tips to help you become an expert commentator, watch this video with John Motson, who has been commentating for more than 40 years.


Guide: Reporting on disability sport

Image caption Ellie Simmonds is one of the highest profile British Paralympians

The Paralympic Games showcased the best athletes and the most exciting events in disability sport.

Disability is often a sensitive issue, and over the years the way we talk about and address disabled people has drastically changed.

When writing about disability it is important to always be respectful. The vital thing to remember is to treat disabled athletes with the same respect as you would non-disabled athletes.

The fundamental rule should always be: Sport first, Disability second.

This guide is full of practical advice for covering disability sport in the same way as any other sport, and for avoiding out-of-date or disrespectful terms in your coverage.


Guide: How to interview on the phone

It's usually best to do an interview face-to-face but sometimes your interviewee is just too far away, or your deadline is just too close!

So, it can often be most practical to do an interview on the phone. You don't get to meet the person at the other end, but at least you're ready to go on air or publish our story on time.

So, it's worth knowing how to do it right, and this guide provides a few tips to make sure it goes well.


Guide: How to get celebrities involved in School Report

Generally we find that celebrities - or their agents - are more likely to respond to direct requests from schools and students rather than from the School Report team.

Many schools have found great success in persuading celebrities, politicians and other high-profile people to be interviewed.

This guide explains some of the starting points for getting hold of the people you would like to interview.


Guide: How to get sportspeople involved in School Report

There is no real set "official" route to follow when it comes to tracking down an athlete or sportsperson. You will probably have to try different approaches, just as professional journalists do in real life.

It may well take a bit of research, a lot of perseverance - and a spot of luck never goes amiss either! Remember that it's not just about big names - don't overlook the exciting up-and-coming athlete in your local area

This guide gives you some good practical tips to start finding your targets!


Image caption David Cameron fields questions from School Reporters at Downing St

Guide: Questioning politicians

If your pupils are planning to speak to a politician, this guide to preparing for political interviews is full of useful tips for thinking up questions for people who are used to dealing with the media.

We've managed to have School Reporters put questions to the Prime Minister and members of the cabinet over the years, not to mention local councillors and MPs.


Reporting Parliament for young people

Is your class going on a trip to the Houses of Parliament?

This resource gives advice on how to prepare your pupils for their visit and suggests some activities that will help them report on it afterwards.


Guide: Preparing for a news conference

Your School Reporters may want to attend a news conference at some point.

This guide explains how a news conference works and offers tips if your school wants to hold a news conference itself.


Guide: Reporting international news

If your School Reporters want to cover international news, these tips from BBC journalist Emma Rippon may come in handy.

Emma works on Crossing Continents, Radio 4's foreign affairs documentary series.


Lesson: Using statistics to find and report news

School Report joined forces with SportAtSchool, a project that gives schools access to real data that can be used in the classroom.

Students from participating schools can complete a simple questionnaire about sport and exercise, and their answers become part of a UK-wide data bank.

And this lesson plan will help your students use their data to create a statistics-based report.


Image caption Twitter is an important newsgathering and sharing tool

Guide: How to use Twitter safely as a journalist

Although tweets are a maximum of just 140 characters long, the impact of the social media website on journalism has been huge.

Lots of journalists now use Twitter as a newsgathering tool. It can be a great way to search for contributors, case studies and information on a story.

However, if you want to use Twitter as part of your journalistic research during the course of School Report you should think very carefully about safety issues and the age restrictions in place on Twitter.

Just like websites such as YouTube and Facebook,Twitter is aimed at people who are over 13. Within Twitter's pages on privacy is a section on their policy "towards children" which points out that "...our services are not directed to persons under 13... we do not knowingly collect personal information from children under 13".

Any use of Twitter or social media for School Report purposes should comply with your school's social media policy, and we strongly recommend it is done in a supervised capacity.

This quiz will help pupils discuss and think through some of the editorial and internet safety issues that using Twitter creates.


Guide: Tips from a BBC voice coach

Elspeth Morrison is a voice coach for the BBC College of Journalism and has trained lots of BBC journalists in how to shine in front of the camera or microphone.

Read her top tips and find out how to prepare for a broadcast.

And BBC Radio 4 announcer Chris Aldridge also offers his advice on sounding great on the radio in this video from the BBC College of Production.


Pictures: Virtual BBC newsroom for blue/green screens

If you have access to a green or blue screen facility, you can ask the School Report team to send you some newsroom backdrops to use in your bulletins.

Look at the images in this gallery and contact the School Report team by email on if you would like to receive the images to use at your school.


Guide: How to take photos for the web

For online reports, good photos can often make a huge difference to the story, bringing articles to life and illustrating exactly what is going on as well as attracting a reader's attention.

The old adage that "a picture is worth a thousand words" still holds in the digital age, so find out how to take great photos for the web.

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