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 journalist 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.

Key points of the lesson
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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.
Welsh version
Steph McGovern, formerly of BBC Breakfast, gives her take on what news is.

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 KS4 this covers the key skill or identifying information in a given source.

Suitable for KS3/4 or 11 to 16-year-olds

Duration 20 minutes

Activity 1: Market place game or 'just a minute'
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Activity 2: What is news and source checking?

Brief outline

Taking the tips outline by Huw Edwards in the video, print out the attached worksheet and highlight the headlines you think are real news stories. Then name at least one source you would check to confirm whether or not the story is true.

For example, 'Gareth Bale dropped from the Welsh squad' could be a big news story, but is it true? To check you could:

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

Evidence of learning/assessment opportunity

  • This task requires students to research, justify and evaluate sources of information.
  • At KS4 students are required to justify their points regarding given sources and to evaluate and justify their point of view/comments made.

Suitable for: KS3/4 or 11 to 16-year-olds

Duration: 20 minutes

Activity 2: What is news and source checking
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Activity 3: To assess whether or not a story is newsworthy

Brief outline

Elicit the difference between 'need to know/want to know' from students using the following example:

There have been reports of an incoming storm. Who would need to know this information, and who would want to know it?

Discuss the question and write up ideas on the board

A 'dictionary race' can be used for lower ability students. Give students a number of words to look up in a dictionary. The first person to find the word and explains its meaning is the winner. This can be done individually or in teams.

Evidence of learning/assessment opportunity

  • Young people are encouraged to decipher the difference between the words 'want' and 'need'.

  • Young people will use their skills of analysis, comparison and evaluation for this task.

Suitable for: KS3/4 or 11 to 16-year-olds

Duration: 20 minutes

Activity 4: 'What is news?' worksheet

Brief outline

Using the 'What is news?' worksheet and working in pairs, students decide 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) or 'want to know' (W). Then feedback and disucss.

Evidence of learning/assessment opportunity Puils are encouraged to evaluate and justify their decisions and apply the concepts raised in the introduction.

Suitable for: KS3/4 or 11 to 16-year-olds

Duration 10 minutes including feedback

Activity 4: 'What is news?' worksheet
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Activity 5: Meet the audience

Brief outline

One of the most important things BBC journalists think about when they are researching and presenting a story is the people who are watching or listening - the audience.

Lots of different people watch the 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 editor of Young Reporter and decide which of these stories will be of interest to your audience of young people aged 11 to 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 KS4, pupils have to analyse a source’s purpose and audience in reading and adapt their own writing to a given audience (GCSE English Language)

Suitable for: KS3/4 or 11 to 16-year-olds

Duration: 10 minutes

Activity 5: Meet the audience
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Activity 3: 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 different kinds of people, e.g. a grandparent and a teenage friend.

Evidence of learning/assessment opportunity

  • This activity seeks to personalise the learning for the pupil therefore maximising engagement.

  • A key skills for GCSE is the assembling of information to produce a summary that identifies key information.

Suitable for KS3/4 or 11 to 16-year-olds

Duration: 20 minutes

Activity 6: News formats and audiences
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More from this series:

Lesson 2: Finding news
video
Lesson 3: Gathering news
video
Lesson 4: Writing news
video
Lesson 5 - Producing news for different platforms
video
Lesson 6 - Organising and producing news for broadcast
video