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Lesson | 50 Minutes

What is Newsworthy?


Overview

Journalists often pitch story ideas inspired by events occurring in their communities or by issues they care about, but they also turn to the Internet and social media to find out what topics are engaging a large audience. This lesson will challenge students to think about the term “newsworthy” and what makes a story worthy of being reported. Click on the Activities Tab to complete the lesson.

Central Questions

  • What is news?
  • How do journalists decide what stories are newsworthy and worth reporting?
  • How do the characteristics of newsworthiness mean different things to different audiences?

Learning Outcomes

  • Help students understand the concept of audience
  • Help students determine what makes a topic engaging and valuable to an audience
  • Help students understand how news organizations determine newsworthiness and choose stories
  • Career readiness: critical thinking and clear communication to different audiences

When Would You Use This Lesson?

  • Media Literacy unit to understand how journalists choose stories to pursue
  • Help students find newsworthy stories for their local school news program
  • To help students strengthen story ideas and write stronger pitches
  • As a discussion about decision-making in the news media

Media Literacy Connections

Students will learn how journalists consider story ideas and start to understand the role of journalists in communities. Thinking through the idea of newsworthiness will help students dissect their information consumption habits and critique the role of audiences for journalists creating media that is supposed to inform.

Civics Connections

Journalists have to make tough decisions about what stories to cover. Understanding newsworthiness will help students uncover what important civic issues need to be reported, and the issues that are not being addressed in news media landscapes.

Timeliness

Immediate, current information and events are newsworthy because they have just recently occurred. It’s news because it’s “new.”

Proximity

Local information and events are newsworthy because they affect the people in our community and region. We care more about things that happen “close to home.”

Solutions

Investigating and explaining, in a critical and clear-eyed way, how people try to solve widely shared problems. Solutions journalism focuses on responses to problems.

Source: Solutions Journalism

Human Interest

People are interested in other people. Everyone has something to celebrate and something to complain about. We like unusual stories of people who accomplish amazing feats or handle a life crisis because we can identify with them.

Relevance

People are attracted to information that helps them make good decisions. If you like music, you find musician interviews relevant. If you’re looking for a job, the business news is relevant. We need to depend on relevant information that helps us make decisions.

Story Angle

In news, it’s a story’s point or theme. It's the lens through which the producer or writer filters the information they have gathered and focuses it to make it meaningful to viewers or readers.

Source: ThoughCo.

Audience

The people who read, watch and consume news. Often, journalists think about audience and newsworthiness in similar ways. How will the news story serve their local or national audience? Who am I writing the story for and why?

Conflict

When violence strikes or when people argue about actions, events, ideas or policies, we care. Conflict and controversy attract our attention by highlighting problems or differences within the community or between groups. Sometimes conflict can be subtle and manifest as tension.

Writing - Research to Build and Present Knowledge

Speaking and Listening - Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas

Describe the diversity and variety of functions within the Journalism & Broadcasting Career Pathway.

Language - Vocabulary Acquisition and Use

Empowered Learner

Students leverage technology to take an active role in choosing, achieving, and demonstrating competency in their learning goals, informed by the learning sciences. (ISTE)

Digital Citizenship

Students recognize the rights, responsibilities and opportunities of living, learning and working in an interconnected digital world, and they act and model in ways that are safe, legal and ethical. (ISTE)

Demonstrate writing processes used in journalism and broadcasting media.

Analyze the legal and ethical responsibilities required in the arts, audio/visual technology and communications workplace.

Writing - Text Types and Purposes

Global Collaborator

Students use digital tools to broaden their perspectives and enrich their learning by collaborating with others and working effectively in teams locally and globally. (ISTE)

Reading - Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

Writing - Production and Distribution of Writing

Speaking and Listening - Comprehension and Collaboration

Topics

Journalism

Civics

Media Literacy

Levels

Beginner

Intermediate

Materials

Projector

Online Worksheet

Internet

Notebook

Estimated Time

50 Minutes