Sunday, October 15, 2017

What is Newsworthy?

You have looked at how a news story is structured, and in journalism class you started work on your job assignments. Every job assignment we have - from the yearbook to podcasting to the online school newspaper - deals with how newsworthy the story is. Whatever we are covering, we have to ask ourselves what is newsworthy to our audience.

Read the following article "What Makes a Story Newsworthy". This article provides a list of five factors that make a story newsworthy:
  • Timing
  • Significance
  • Proximity
  • Prominence
  • Human Interest
Find two news articles online from news sources like CBCHuffington Post, or VICE News, and using a scale from 1-4 (1 being the least, 4 being the most), grade each story on how newsworthy it is. Your score will total up to 20 points (5 factors X 4 points each).

Include in each score a summary explaining your mark for each factor. Also make sure to provide a link to each news story. NOTE: If you do not complete this assignment in the same day, make sure to get your links from the selected stories so you can easily access them the next day. See below for an example of this assignment.

You will be assessed on:
  • Overall effort
  • Spelling/Grammar/Mechanics
  • Strong summary for each factor
  • Links to each news story, story headlines and final marks are provided
Deadline is next Monday, October 30. 

An Example:

Chilean miners' rescue capsule works in test

Timing - 4/4
This is a news story that has been in the public eye since August when the 33 miners were trapped. It is the latest update in the rescue mission which will begin on Wednesday to free the trap miners. I gave it a 4/4 on timing, because it is an update on the rescue attempt of these trapped miners.

Significance - 3/4
While the number of miners trapped is not in the hundreds, 33 miners is a significant number. It has grabbed the attention of not only the people of Chile, but everyone around the world.

Proximity - 3/4
The geographical proximity is not close for a Canadian reader, but Canadians can connect to this story as we have had our share of mining disasters. It is a story that connects to Canadian history, and it a story we hope has a happy ending.

Prominence - 2/4
The story has prominence because of the number of miners and the unique rescue attempt that is being made. I gave it a lower mark because few would have known who these miners were even in their own country, let alone in the world. Although they are well known now because of their dire circumstances.

Human Interest - 4/4
This story appeals greatly to emotion as people hope and pray that the 33 miners are rescued successfully.

Final Newsworthy Mark - 16/20

Friday, October 6, 2017

Writing the News Articles

In the last assignment, we looked at the basics for writing a news article, and then you selected three news article so you could analyze the writing structure. Today you will write your own news article to get a sense of how it is done. If you need to review the basics, click here.

Most of the time finding a news idea to write about is not hard, but for this assignment you will be creating your own news. You will be provided with a few photos and you have to determine what is happening in the photo and then report the news in a written article. You will also create a headline for your article.

Below are a few images you can choose from for your news article. Once you have selected your image, brainstorm the following:
  • Who, what, when, where, why (and, if applicable, how)
  • What sources are used (quotes, statistics, etc.)
  • What other details are important about the news story?
  • Which information is most important and should be place first?
  • A short attention-getting headline
  • A strong lead (beginning)
Remember to keep your paragraphs short and make every effort to create a lead that draws the reader's interest and attention. The deadline is next Monday, October 16.

You will be graded on the following (5 pts each, value: 25 pts):
  • The lead (the first and maybe second paragraph) contains who, what, when, where, why
  • The lead is effective and draws the reader's attention and interest
  • The article is written in inverted pyramid style
  • The article includes at least two sources
  • The headline is an attention grabber
Below are the photos you can select from. There is also an example of a news lead and the first few paragraphs that was created for one of the photos.

Example of a lead and the first few paragraphs (photo of little girl on the slide)

Special surprise on first day of school for elementary students (headline)

Students at Betterville Elementary School were all smiles this Monday when their brand new playground was officially opened.

With support from the local home and school association and various fund raising events, the playground received over $25, 000 in new equipment.

The poor condition of the playground forced the school administration to prevent students from using it. But that situation changed this week when students returned to school and discovered the new equipment.

"The students could hardly contain their excitement all morning," said Principal Violet Blueberry. "There was certainly a lot of discussion among the staff and students over the new playground equipment," she added.

Students from kindergarten to grade five swarmed the renovated playground at morning break and again at lunch time. Grade two student Sally Smiles said that her favourite playground activity was sliding.

The article would continue...what else would be included that would be informative to the reader, but not as important?

Monday, September 25, 2017

Starting with the Basics

Writing News Stories

Whether you are writing for newspaper, radio or television, there are some basic guidelines that most journalists follow when reporting news. Click on this link to get a very concise formula for a well-written news article.

Notice the basics:
  • Who, what, when, where, and why
  • Try to catch the reader's attention (the news lead and/or hook)
  • Use quotes (sources)
  • Strive to be objective (remember our code of ethics)
  • Tell the interesting information first
Now let's take some of this basic information and add to it.

Check out this link to see information about the inverted pyramid and writing news. The inverted pyramid is a writing style used by journalist to remind them to tell the most important and interesting information first.

Watch this video to view some tips on how to write a lead or hook (the first paragraph of a news article).


Today's blog assignment is very basic, but it is important because you are deconstructing the style of newspaper writing. You need to understand the style in order to do it yourself.

You will find two news stories online (consider sites like CBC, Vice News CanadaThe Huffington Post, and The Globe and Mail). Read each story and in your blog entry describe the basics. Do not use Q and A (question and answer) format, write your findings as a summary.

Include the following for each news article:
  • Who, what, when, where, and why
  • Is the lead effective? Give reasons why you think it is or isn't.
  • Identify one quote and who/what is the source.
  • Is the most important/interesting information told first? What was it?
  • Does the story have a good ending? Explain why/why not.
  • Create a link to each news article you analyze.
You will be graded on the following (5 pts each, value: 20 pts)
  • The entry effectively addresses the points outlined in the assignment. 
  • The entry shows evidence of an understanding of the style and format used in newspaper writing.
  • The entry includes two examples and provides two links.
  • The entry was completed on time with less than three grammatical or sentence structure errors. 
Deadline is next Monday, October 02

Friday, September 15, 2017

Exploring a Code of Ethics

  • This topic will be explored in class work and discussion. 
  • You can access the website referred to in the assignment, by clicking here
  • The handout is available online if you need to view it. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

First Newspapers

Readings (2) and Images
  1. Read about the first attempt of a newspaper in America, by clicking here
  2. Click here to see an image of its first page.
  3. Read about the first newspaper in Canada by clicking here.
Journal Entry
Reflection Entry #1 – First Newspapers

Complete your first blog reflection entry based on what you have read about the first newspapers (from the linked articles listed above). You can consider the following:
  • The delivery of information: Compared to today, what are some of the obvious differences between these historical newspapers and today’s modern newspapers or reading news online?
  • Newspaper suppression: Publick Occurrences was forced to shut down because they were critical of the government. Do you think the government should have that kind of control or power today? Explain your position. 
  • Publishing today: Many newspapers today can be critical of the government, businesses, etc. but still continue to publish. Why do you think that is? What do you think prevents the government from closing down newspapers or other media organizations? (Hint: Click here and Click here)
  • Newspapers in Canada: Were you surprised to learn that the first newspaper in Canada was in Halifax? If so where did you think it would be? Why?
You will be graded on the following (5 pts each, value: 20 pts)
  • The reflection entry effectively discusses some of the ways modern newspapers and articles online are different from older ones.
  • The entry includes substantial thoughts on newspaper suppression.
  • The entry effectively addresses why the author thinks newspaper can be critical today and what he/she thought about the first newspaper in Canada being located in Halifax.
  • The entry was completed on time with less than three grammatical or sentence structure errors (Friday, September 15) 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Applying for the position

Below are the positions available this semester for the Journalism 120 class. They include the online school newspaper, podcasts for online and local radio, and public relations for the school.
  • Read through each of the positions carefully and decide on TWO positions.
  • You will write one letter of application that you will share with the teacher on Google Drive.
  • In the letter you will include any experiences or qualifications that are relevant to the position. Because you are not submitting a resume, ensure that you state in the letter what makes you the right person for both positions. Consider what talents and experiences you can bring to your desired position.
  • Check out this link for an example of a letter and some ideas on how to write it.
  • When you have finished your letter, have at least one other student proofread it and then make any final revisions.


The Talon Editor
The editor will be responsible for the overall layout and design of the online school newspaper, The Talon. Working with the rest of The Talon staff, the editor will determine what stories will be covered, set deadlines and assignments and ensure all The Talon staff are effectively covering their responsibilities. The editor will work closely with the web and layout designer and proofreader to ensure that The Talon has continuity and is professional to its internet readership. The person will ensure that The Talon's online photo database is being well maintained and photos are well organized and labeled. When necessary, the editor will also do reporting and/or writing and take photos. This person will also write editorials. While some of this work will be done in the Journalism 120 class, some of the work will occur outside the classroom.
  • Background knowledge of layout and design or the willingness to learn
  • Strong writing and editing skills
  • Strong organizational and interpersonal skills
  • Competent knowledge of photography or the willingness to learn
  • A willingness to work after school and during flex periods
Please Note: Depending on the response, this position may be shared with another person as co-editors.

Social Media and Photo Management Coordinator – The Talon
This position handles all aspects of promoting the content of the online school newspaper, The Talon's. Currently, the newspaper has Instagram and Twitter accounts. This person will also be responsible to maintain the photo database that will be used by both the online newspaper and yearbook staff. He/she will be responsible for the online archiving of photos from previous years and ensuring that the new photos are placed in appropriate folders that are clearly titled. He/she will also ensure that photos contain descriptions of the event and/or names for easy reference. Additionally, this person is responsible to maintain up to date links on the the school newspaper site to current photo albums.
  • Background knowledge of layout and design or the willingness and desire to learn
  • Experience with the Internet and using web design online sites is preferred (or the ability to learn)
  • Strong organizational and interpersonal skills
Photographers and Reporters – The Talon
These people will work within the school, and when necessary the community, to gather news and information that is of interest to The Talon readership and the larger Internet community. They will gather information, do interviews, take photos, and write articles. They will also be responsible for posting their work online for The Talon readership. Sometimes the reporters may do video features where they will report in front of the camera. While some of this work will be done in the Journalism 120 class, covering some events or interviewing some people may occur outside classroom time. These people will work closely with The Talon editor along with the web and layout designer. The work these people do (from articles to photos) may be used for the yearbook.
When applying for this position, please specify where your primary interest is: news, sports, entertainment, kids korner or another section you think the The Talon should have.
  • Good writing skills with the ability to edit and revise your own work
  • Competent knowledge of photography or the willingness and desire to learn
  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • A willingness to work after school and during flex periods
Videographers  – The Talon
This person will be responsible for video taping any events that are being reported and will be used as video features on the online school newspaper. This person will work closely with the The Talon reporters and the editor to script a story idea and then videotape and edit it. They will be responsible for posting the final approved work onto the online school newspaper. While some of this work will be done in the Journalism 120 class, sometimes it will be required for videotaping and editing to occur after school or during flex period. The videographer will also work closely with the yearbook staff since access to produced videos can be included in the yearbook. 
  • Working knowledge of video scripting, video taping and editing or the willingness to learn
  • Ability to work well with other people in a team environment
  • A willingness to sometimes work after school and during flex periods
Please Note: Depending on the response, this position may be shared with another person.


Student Public Relations Officer – Blackville School
While a public relations officer normally has several different responsibilities, this position will mainly be about sharing what is happening at Blackville School with the larger community using other news media. This person will be responsible for writing articles and collecting photos that can be sent to local media for publication, primarily newspapers and radio. This person will work closely with The Talon and yearbook staff to collect any material they are working on that would be appropriate and relevant to send to other media outlets. This person will also stay in general contact with the staff and students at Blackville School for potential story ideas. Another responsibility of this position is to ensure that press releases sent to media outlets are ready for publication. This person will also contact and be a liaison with other media to help promote and encourage that material from Blackville School is published. While some of this work will be done in the Journalism 120 class, some of it may have to be completed  after school or during flex. It is also desired that the person in this role may consider continuing his/her work into second semester (a good position for anyone thinking about journalism or another media career).
  • Strong writing and editing skills
  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • Some knowledge of photography or willingness to learn
Please Note: Depending on the response, this position may be shared with another person.

Podcaster (and Editor)
This person will be responsible for writing stories and features for a podcast that will most likely be broadcasted weekly for the local radio station and as the podcast it will be available on The Talon (he/she will be responsible to upload the podcast to The Talon). This person will be responsible to contact the local radio station(s) to confirm they will broadcast the weekly reports and agree on deadlines, etc. This person will work closely with The Talon staff for news, sports and features that can be shared with the listening audience. The person will also edit their work before submitting it for broadcast.
  • Strong writing and editing skills
  • An effective and professional voice for radio
  • Some knowledge of editing using podcast software is preferred or the willingness to learn
Please Note: Depending on the response, this position may be shared with another person.

Morning Video Announcement Coordinator
This person will be responsible for obtaining and organizing the morning announcements in partnership with the school. These are the announcements that are presented each day to the school community. Each week the coordinator will organize a schedule of students from across school grade levels who will perform the morning report. This person will coach the students to help prepare them to read the report. In some instances, this person will also have to act as the video announcer for the morning report. If possible, the person in this role may continue his/her work into the second semester.
  • Strong writing and editing skills
  • Strong organizational and interpersonal skills
  • Knowledge of video camera and microphone operation or the willingness to learn
  • A willingness to work after school and during flex periods
Please Note: This position may be shared with another person.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Technology and the World of Journalism in the 21st Century

Below are links to commentaries where journalists consider how the world of journalism will change this year. Based on our discussion in class on how the Internet/technology impacts how we consume news and other information, select one of the articles and as a group discuss the article and whether you agree or disagree with the opinion(s) presented.

Then as a group do the following (you will be presenting this to the rest of the class):
  • Summarize what you think are the main points of the article
  • Provide an example of what the article is discussing (the article itself may have links to examples)
  • State whether your group agrees or disagrees with the article and why
Your format for the presentation is up to you. Google Slides is a good option. An example of the assignment is below.
  • The students presented an effective summary of the article that extends the class discussion.
  • The students provided a solid example that connects with the article's main points.
  • The students offered their own opinions on where they stand on the opinions expressed in the article.
  • The students presented an engaging presentation and all of them participated. 

An Example