“Before flying out the door, a reporter should consider the range of his story, its central message, the approach that appears to best fit the tale, and even the tone he should take as a storyteller."- William Blundell

1. Why is media literacy important to teach?

According to the Ontario Curriculum Grade 9-10 English, there are four overall expectations for students within Media Studies and they are (p. 52)[1] :
  • Understanding Media Texts: students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of different types of media text
  • Understanding Media Forms, Conventions, and Techniques: student will be able to distinguish between media forms and explain how the conventions and techniques are connected to them to create meaning
  • Creating Media Texts: students will be able to create mixture of media text for several audiences and purposes using media forms, conventions and techniques
  • Reflecting on Skills and Strategies: students, as interpreters and creators, will be able to reflect and recognize their weakness and strengths and develop strategies they find helpful in understanding and creating media text

As educators, it’s important to examine how different types of medium work and how each one is shaped differently to convey a message to a targeted audience. To carefully examine and critique the media, students should ask: 1. Who created the message? 2. What creative techniques are used to attract my attention? 3. How might different people understand this message differently than me? 4. What values, lifestyle and points of view are represented in, or omitted from, this message? 5. Why is the message being sent?

2. Qualities of Good Writing

There are criteria for Newsworthiness[2] :
Writing skills

  • Timeliness- Is it a recent development
  • Proximity- Is the story relevant to local readers?
  • Conflict- Is the issue developing, has it been resolved?
  • Eminence and Prominence- Are noteworthy people involved?
  • Consequence and Impact- What effect will the story have on the readers?
  • Human Interest-Does it contain unique, interesting elements?

3. Robert Gunning: Ten Principle of Clear Writing

Gunning is a former consultant for more than 100 newspapers, such as The Wall Street Journal or the United Press International. He suggests that there are 10 priniciples that a writer should consider when writing[3] :
School Kids

  1. Keep sentences short
  2. Prefer the simple to the complex
  3. Prefer the familiar word
  4. Avoid unnecessary words
  5. Put action into your verbs
  6. Write the way you talk
  7. Use terms your reader can picture
  8. Tie in with you reader's experience
  9. Make full use of variey
  10. Write to express, not to impress.

"Clutter is the disease of American writing. We are a sociey strangling in unnecessary words, circular constructions, pompous frills and meaningless jargon...The secret of good writing is to strip every sentences to its cleanest component"-William Zinsser

4. Summary Lead- Inverted Pyramid

 The majority of news
Inverted Pyramid
papers use the inverted pyramid style because:

- it allows writers to start at the end, rather than the beginning
- writers can identify and rank the most newsworthy elements of the story
- it allows the reader to be informed in just 2-3 paragraphs
- it permits for the writer to tell a story in a direct, concise and clear manner

The lead summarizes the main points of a news sport. While the second paragraph and each succeeding paragraphs contains secondary or supporting information in order of descending significance.

Within the summary lead the writer tell it's readers 6 primary elements, the five W's and Hexternal image icon_16_numbersquare.png :

                  • What- happened in the event?
                  • Who- the event happened to?
                  • When-it happened?
                  • Where-did the event occured?
                  • Why-did the event took place?
                  • How-it happened?

5. Assessment: Writer's Checklist

This questions are great for assessment to make sure students are on track:
  1. Is the lead right?- Does the lead provide the most significant points? The 5W's and H?
  2. Does the writing appeal to the reader?- Is it written with direct language?
  3. Is there another side to the story?- Is your story bias?
  4. How about sentences?- Are your sentences limited to one complete though?
  5. Have you included quotes?- Is there a human voice?
  6. Is there a smooth transitions?- Is the reader able to reader smoothly one idea to the next?
  7. What is your tone?- Is your message clear?

*Good resource for Assessing Media Literacy: http://www.readingonline.org/newliteracies/lit_index.asp?HREF=/newliteracies/worsnop/index.html

6. Teaching Activities

Grade Level
News and Newspaper: Across the Curriculum
Writing a Newspaper Article
Newspaper Ads

7. Digital Age

8. Glossary

Beat reporter: Reporter who covers a specific subject area
Breaking news: News that is available immediately for publication
City editor: Editor who runs the city desk and is in charge of city-side general assignments
Closed-ended questions: Questions that is structured to elicit a short, precise answer.
Code of Ethics: Guideline for journalists developed by national groups
Gag order: Judicial mandate that requires the press to refrain from disseminating specific information or prohibits those associated with the trail to discuss the case with the press.
Hourglass style: A style of writing in which the major news of a story is reported in the first few paragraphs and then proceeding paragraphs are introduced in a chronology order.
Independent clause: A clause that makes complete sense when left standing alone.
Journalists' privilege: Journalists have a priviledge, under certain conditions, not to reveal information seeked by a court or grand jury.
Libel: Legal offense of publishing a false story that damages a person's reputation by holding him or her up to public ridicule.
Question lead: Lead that asks a question. The key is to answer the question as quickly as possible in the following paragraph.
Shield Law: Statutes that allows journalists who are questioned by gran juries or under other circumstances to protect their sources under certain circumstance.
Transition: Word, phrase, sentence or paragraph that ushers an audience from one area of a story to another.

9. Resource

  1. News Writing and Reporting for Today's Media by Bruce Itule and Douglas Anderson
  2. The Ontario Curriculum, Grade 9-10: English by the Ministry of Education
  3. The Canadian Press Stylebook, 16th Edition, edited by Patti Tasko
  4. Media Awarness Network: http://www.media-awareness.ca/
  5. http://www.readingonline.org/newliteracies/lit_index.asp?HREF=/newliteracies/worsnop/index.html

Pictures used:
Inverted Pyramid:
Writing Skills:
School Kids:

10. In the Press

User fees adding to the cost of Ontario high schoolParentcentral.ca- By: Kristin Rushow, August 31, 2010Excess TV, computer video games linked to poor attention in classroom: studyParentcentral.ca- By: Sheryl Ubelacker, July 6, 2010 Is iPad the next big toy for toddlers?Parentcentral.ca- By: Nicole Baute, June 17, 2010 What every parent needs to know about FacebookParentcentral.ca- By: Nancy J. White, April 30, 2010Interactive whiteboard shakes up teaching: educators New technology is re-energizing the professionThe Ottawa Citizen- By: Matthew Pearson, September 6, 2010 JK to Gr. 12: ‘It’s a model that works’The Ottawa Citizen- By: Joanne Laucius, November 30, 2009
  1. ^ 2007, the Ontario Curriculum, Grade 9- 10: English (Revised). Ontario: The Ministry of Education
  2. ^ Itule, B.D., & Anderson, D.A. (2003). News Writing and Reporting for Today's Media. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill
  3. ^ Itule, B.D., & Anderson, D.A. (2003). News Writing and Reporting for Today's Media. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill