Lesson 1: What is news?

This lesson explains what makes a story newsworthy and how to go about looking for them.

Students will be introduced to the idea of writing for a specific audience and are also taught about the sources journalists use to make sure their reports are truthful and accurate.

Learning outcomes 

  • To understand what makes a story newsworthy 
  • To compare and evaluate differences in a range of news formats and audiences

BBC newsreader Huw Edwards goes back to basics as he explores the concept of what makes something news. You can recap the key points from the video, key points download or read a transcript of the video.

 

English version 

Welsh version

Downloads


 BBC Breakfast's Steph McGovern also gives her take on what news is below.

Downloads


Activity 1: Market place game or 'just a minute'

Brief outline

Watch Huw’s video. Use the market place game or 'just a minute' to recall key points.

 

Evidence of learning/assessment opportunity

  • This activity recalls and consolidates the information given in the video
  • At Key Stage 4 this covers the key skill of identifying information in a given source

Age: 11-16

 Key stage: 3 and 4

Duration: 20 minutes

 

Downloads


Activity 2: What is news and source checking? 

Brief outline

Bearing in mind the tips from Huw Edwards, print out the worksheet below and highlight the headlines you think are real news stories. Then write at least one source you would check with to find out whether that story is true.


So for example, 'Gareth Bale dropped from Welsh squad' could be a big news story.


To check whether it is true, you could:


 

  • phone the Football Association
  • phone his club
  • check with his agent
  • look at his official Twitter feed to see if he has commented

 

Evidence of learning/assessment opportunity

  • This task requires pupils to research, justify and evaluate the source of information
  • At Key Stage 4 pupils are required to justify their points regarding given sources and to evaluate and to justify their point of view/comments made

 Age: 11-16

 Key stage: 3 and 4

 Duration: 20 minutes

 

Downloads


Activity 3: To identify whether a story is newsworthy 

Brief outline

Elicit the concept of 'need to know'/'want to know' from young people using the following: ‘There have been reports of an incoming storm - who would need to know and who would want to know?’ - elicit the difference from the pupils.

  • Discuss and write up ideas on the board

A ‘dictionary race’ can be used at this point for lower ability pupils.


Give individuals a number of words to look up in a dictionary. The first person that finds the word and explains its meaning is the winner. If preferred can be done individually or split in teams.

 

Evidence of learning/assessment opportunity

  • Young people are encouraged to decipher the difference between the words ‘want’ and ‘need’ - a dictionary race can be used at this point for lower ability pupils
  • Young people would use the skills of analysis, comparison and evaluation for this task

Age: 11-16

 Key stage: 3 and 4

Duration: 20 minutes

 

Activity 4: What is news worksheet

Brief outline

Use the ‘What is news?’ worksheet - pupils decide in pairs which headlines constitute news and which do not. They must then use a K or a W and label the newsworthy stories as ‘need to know (K)/want to know (W)'.


  • Feedback and discuss

Evidence of learning/assessment opportunity

  • Pupils are encouraged to evaluate and justify their decisions and apply the concepts raised in the introduction

Age: 11-16

 Key stage: 3 and 4

Duration: 10 minutes including feedback

 

Downloads


Activity 5: Meet the audience 

Brief outline

One of the biggest things that BBC journalists think about when they are researching and presenting their stories is the people who will watch or listen to them - the audience.


Lots of different people watch BBC News, from children to grandparents and often they will be interested in slightly different things.


We want you to take on the role of Young Reporter editor and decide which of these stories will be interesting for your audience - young people aged 11-16 - and why. 

Evidence of learning/assessment opportunity

  • This activity links to the key skills of evaluating the TAP of a source: Text, Audience, Purpose
  • At Key Stage 4, pupils have to analyse a source’s purpose and audience in reading and adapt their own writing to a given audience (GCSE English Language)

 

 Age: 11-16

 Key stage: 3 and 4

 Duration: 10 minutes

 

Downloads


Activity 6: News formats and audiences

Brief outline

To compare and evaluate differences in a range of news formats and audiences. Young people will need to repeat the need to know/want to know activity but this time think of different people and what news stories they would be interested in.


Encourage them to choose completely different people i.e. a grandparent a teenage friend.

Evidence of learning/assessment opportunity

  • This actiivity seeks to personalise the learning for the pupil therefore maximising engagement 
  • A key skills for GCSE: assembly of information and to produce a summary that identifies key information 

Age: 11-16

 Key stage: 3 and 4

Duration: 20 minutes

 

Downloads


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